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UNT's Joshua Wheeler 'slammed pretty hard' by Florida fans for hit on Luke Del Rio

College Football, North Texas Eagles, Florida Gators

North Texas linebacker Joshua Wheeler feels that he's the victim of targeting -- by Florida fans and coaches -- after his hit injured Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio during last Saturday's game.

According to reports, Del Rio will miss two to three weeks after a low hit by Wheeler during the Gators' 32-0 victory resulted in a sprained left knee.

According to the Denton Record-Chronicle, Wheeler said he started to fall while getting around a Florida lineman and had no way of stopping after diving in an attempt to get to Del Rio. He was called for a personal-foul penalty, and Florida coach Jim McElwain had to be restrained on the field by officials and players as he yelled toward UNT's sideline for what he believed to be a dirty hit.

Said McElwain after the game: "I obviously took that low hit on Luke awful personal. ... I see something like that, it ain't right."

Since then, Wheeler, a junior who leads the Mean Green with two sacks, has been barraged by angry Gators fans on social media.

"I got slammed pretty hard on Twitter," Wheeler told the Record-Chronicle. "I had never experienced something like that. You hear about that happening, but it was new for me. I didn't like it too much, some of the things that were said.

"People said that I'm a dirty player. That was the worst part. I take that seriously. I just try to come out and compete. It was unfortunate but wasn't intentional. People are trying to make it sound like it was. ... People are going to express their feelings. There is nothing I can do about it. I'm going to keep playing and giving great effort. That is all I can control."

UNT coach Seth Littrell defended Wheeler, who also knocked SMU quarterback Matt Davis out for the season in the Mean Green's opener.

"These people know nothing about the kid," Littrell told the Record-Chronicle of fans attacking Wheeler. "That is what is frustrating. He takes it personally. He is an unbelievable person. If anyone knew him who was saying those things, they wouldn't be saying them.

"He didn't mean to do it. He was playing hard and trying to make a play."

Littrell also was not happy with McElwain's reaction after the play.

"No one is going to come over and yell at me or my sideline and say that we don't have integrity or play the game the right way," Littrell told the paper. "Those are not the facts. I am not going to allow that to happen."

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