Fans tailgate at Camping World Stadium before college football kicks off


Trent Hopper prepares food during the tailgate.

Nate Marrero, Contributor

Ahead of the first major game of the college football season, fans gathered on Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando to tailgate before the 8th ranked Florida Gators will take on the Miami Hurricanes.

The game will be Miami head coach Manny Diaz’s first leading the Hurricanes. After initially taking accepting the head coaching job at Temple University in December, he decided to leave Temple to take the Hurricanes job just a few weeks later after Mark Richt abruptly stepped down that offseason. Diaz had been the Hurricanes defensive coordinator from 2016-2018, and his father Manuel Diaz served two terms as the Mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009.

Diaz will be looking to bring Miami back to its glory days, where they consistently competed for national championships and sent talent to the NFL.

Trent Hopper, who is the head football coach at Legacy High School and a huge Miami Hurricanes fan, can’t wait to see what Diaz does as the head coach. 

“I’m excited,“ Hopper said. “Everybody is excited. He’s got good energy, it feels old-school.”

After a quarterback battle that lasted for most of the summer, Diaz decided to name Redshirt Freshman Jarren Williams as the starter. Williams, who is from Lawrenceville, Georgia, was an Under Armour All-American and a four-star recruit according to 247Sports. He beat out Ohio State transfer Tate Martell and sophomore N’Kosi Perry for the starting job. 

“Williams was a UA All-American and should be ready to go after a season in reserve,” Hopper said of Williams. “I like that the staff had the guts to name a starter instead of going with QB by committee.“

Tom Tomarelli (left), and Sean Still (right), play cornhole during the pre-game tailgate.

While the Hurricanes look to replicate former glory, the Florida Gators will be looking to build on a stellar 2018 campaign. In their first season under Dan Mullen, they went 10-3 and ended the season with a 41-15  blow out over the Michigan Wolverines in the Peach Bowl. 

With Feleipe Franks returning after a successful 2018 campaign in which he 24 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions, and one of the better defensive units in the nation, the Gators are expected to be able to compete with the high-powered Georgia Bulldogs as the bitter rivals will battle for supremacy in the SEC East. 

Tom Tomarelli, a Florida native and business owner, can’t wait for the Gators’ season to start. 

“I’m super excited,“ Tomarelli stated on how he feels about the Gators this upcoming season. “I think we’re going to make a good run this year. Dan Mullen is back and our offense is going to be something serious.” 

The morning of the game, ESPN broadcast its iconic College Gameday from the heart of Magic Kingdom. This isn’t the first time that Orlando has found itself at the center of the college football world. College Gameday was hosted by UCF in November 2018 before they blew-out the Cincinnati Bearcats. Earlier that season, Camping World hosted a matchup between the 1st ranked Alabama Crimson tide and the Louisville Cardinals.

The game will mark the teams’ first meeting since 2013, when Miami topped Florida 21-16.