GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida guard James Wilson has been on campus since last July, working out with teammates and waiting to get on the field.
He finally practiced Wednesday.
Wilson, who asked to be released from his scholarship so he could transfer, was the biggest surprise at the Gators' first spring practice. Although he worked mostly on the side because he's recovering from knee surgery, it was a positive sign that coach Urban Meyer might be able to keep the former Parade All-American in Gainesville.
"I'm here, so I'm going to make the most of my situation right now," Wilson said. "I want to keep an open mind and have a chance to play with the guys. I'm still weighing my options."
Wilson, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound redshirt freshman from nearby St. Augustine, injured his left knee in high school and had micro-fracture surgery to repair a meniscal injury last summer. He had another one in September.
Making matters worse, he injured his right knee in a scooter accident last fall.
Unable to practice and play, he felt disconnected from teammates and decided he wanted to transfer to Wake Forest.
But Meyer denied his request, asking him to give Florida a second chance. Wilson agreed -- at least for now.
He called Meyer on Tuesday and told him he would be at every spring practice.
"I decided to come because I didn't want to have any regrets if I do decide to leave or if I did leave," Wilson said. "Just prove I'm a competitor. I've heard a lot of rumors saying I'm not. Just want to show people what I do and get better in the long run."
Wilson hopes to be able to practice fully in two or three weeks. But it's unlikely he'll play in the spring game April 12.
Wilson could help the Gators this fall -- the main reason Meyer denied his transfer request. Florida lost two starters on the line and expects plenty of competition for the open spots.
As for his knees, Wilson said they felt "better than ever, stronger than ever."
Meyer, meanwhile, was just glad to have Wilson back, and he hopes to persuade him to stay.
"I'm proud of him for coming out here," Meyer said. "It says a lot about him."