Notes and quotes from the start of spring practice

By Adam Silverstein
March 19, 2010

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2010 season on Wednesday, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece.

Blink your eyes and check out over 1,000 words and two videos on Florida Gators football after the jump!

Quotes on head coach Urban Meyer returning to the team:
» Offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and former interim head coach Steve Addazio: “Heck, I’ve always been the ex-head coach. I’m a soldier here doing my job, whatever I can do to help. I’m the offensive coordinator and offense line coach and I’m here to help coach anywhere I can help him, so it’s been great. […] I see a guy fired up ready to coach and energized, that’s what I see. He looks great, he’s fired up and energized and excited and it’s great.”

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “He’s fine. He’s his same old self. I’m just happy he’s back out here and he’s doing fine.”

» Senior safety Ahmad Black: “It’s great. He came out here today doing fine. He’s doing good. It’s great to see him. I love him being out here. He’s a fun guy. [He appears] normal, real, real, normal.”

» Redshirt senior offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert: “I’m glad he’s out here coaching us again. He’s a terrific coach. He looks fine, he looks great. He’s going to keep this thing going.”

Notes on the first day of spring practice and the 2010 team:
» Meyer spent most of his time observing his staff and players during the first day of practice. He plans to get more hands-on as time progresses, but he claims he is in evaluation mode for at least the short-term.

» Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose is practicing in individual drills and working out with the team. He is still recovering from the torn hamstring that kept him out in 2009 and claims that he will not need an additional procedure.

» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore is back and looking better than ever. A nagging back injury kept Moore, who was slated to start, out of action in 2009. He was able to receive a redshirt and should be back at full strength this year.

» Speaking of wide receivers, Brantley has recently praised redshirt sophomores Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines (as well as redshirt junior Deonte Thompson). Four-star WR recruit Chris Dunkley will fight for early playing time, but he does have some solid competition even though the position was one of the weakest on the team last season.

» Senior linebackers Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones can be penciled in as starters for 2010, but an open position next to them is going to be a point of contention all offseason. Redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins and sophomore Jon Bostic, both high-profile recruits, will be going head-to-head for the job with some competition also coming from redshirt sophomore Brendan Beal and converted sophomore safety Dee Finley.

» Junior running back Jeff Demps will sit out of practice while he competes for the Gators’ track and field teams in outdoor competitions in the spring. Demps won a National Championship during the indoor track and field season and will remain the team’s starter going into 2010.

» It took spring practice to begin for it to be made a certainty, but senior Mike Pouncey will step in for his brother Maurkice as the team’s starting center. The main reason Pouncey stayed in Gainesville, FL, was to improve his draft position by learning to be the anchor of the offensive line.

» Another position up for grabs is starting cornerback. Though junior Janoris Jenkins has one spot all to himself, the other will need to be filled with the departure of Joe Haden. Redshirt sophomore Adrian Bushell was thought to have an early in at the position, but he is currently in Meyer’s dog house, likely because of his grades or violating team rules. Bushell must get “some stuff in order” (according to his head coach) before he is allowed to practice with the team. Four-star incoming recruit Joshua Shaw and senior Moses Jenkins will also fight for the vacant job.

» Redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown is in the middle of his recovery from a back injury but is not yet participating in contact drills. He is coming along slowly but has high hopes of being in good shape by the time the season rolls around.

» The departure of tight end Aaron Hernandez leaves a gaping hole of needed production at that position. Though Florida could get away with not using the tight end much in 2010, four-star recruit Gerald Christian believes he can come in and replace Hernandez right away. Redshirt freshmen Desmond Parks and converted QB Jordan Reed will also get a solid look – both could turn some heads.

» The Gators’ incoming No. 1-ranked recruiting class has a chance to see plenty of playing time early on. Five-stars defensive end Ronald Powell and defensive tackle Dominique Easley, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and five-star safety Matt Elam are all likely to see the field. Three-star QB Trey Burton may immediately step in as Brantley’s back-up, and three-star Robert Clark could get early time as a returner like Brandon James.

» Don’t forget about the coaching staff. Five new coaches are starting for Florida this spring, including defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton, wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni and linebackers and special teams coach D.J. Durkin.

Coaches on the make up of the 2010 Gators:
» Meyer on Brantley: “It’s hard to be a leader when the other guy is around. The other guy [Tim Tebow] is so overwhelming. It’s [Brantley’s] huddle now.”

» Meyer on Thompson: “He’s got to be ‘The Man.’ He’s got to develop into being the X receiver or the Z, him and Carl Moore. We’ve got some numbers but it’s time Deonte becomes like he was the No. 1 receiver.”

» Meyer on the team: “It is a kind of rebuilding I guess or reloading or something like that. But there’s a lot of good players still here, a lot. A lot of good ones coming in, too.”

» Meyer on the incoming class: “How do you evaluate recruiting? You go out at Pro Day in four years and see how you did.”

» Co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater: “We lost a lot of playmakers, a lot of good players. But really good teams have some guys that come out of nowhere.”

» Meyer on the new hires: “I really like our coaches. Our special teams coordinator [D.J. Durkin] – the eye of the tiger is on him and he did a good job. He did a great job today.”

» Meyer on new WR Solomon Patton: “The guy that looks really good to me is Patton, that little guy who runs really fast.”

Meyer and Brantley speak after practice:

Meyer at the first day of spring practice (Orlando Sentinel):

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and the Palm Beach Post for some of the quotes above. h/t to Andrea Adelson for the final video.

2 Comments

  1. Gatormiami says:

    Good job , Adam!

  2. Marc Mac says:

    Awesome entry!!!

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