Gilyard sad Florida's James won't play

NEW ORLEANS -- The Allstate Sugar Bowl could have featured a matchup of two of the nation's most exciting return men. But we'll just have to settle for one.

Brandon James, who is Florida's all-time career leader in return yards, won't play because of a foot injury. And that makes Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard sad.

Gilyard said the two have been close friends since they were 12 years old. James is from St. Augustine, Fla., which is about 30 miles from Gilyard's home in Bunnell, Fla. The two even played on the same basketball teams.

"We thought we were going to the NBA back then," Gilyard said.

Gilyard called James when he heard the news that his friend wouldn't play.

"He was kind of upset," Gilyard said. "I hope he makes it to New Orleans because it would be good to see him. But if not, I'll see him back home some other time."

For more on Gilyard, make sure to read my story on the unique Bearcats star.