Concluding spring practice on Friday, Florida Gators football will host its spring game in the friendly confines of The Swamp. It will be the second straight year that the game is being played on a Friday in prime time, giving the Gators a unique window in which to capture an audience while entertaining fans and prospective student-athletes.
Event: 2017 Orange & Blue Debut
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 91,916]
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: SEC Network (Clay Matvick, Kevin Carter and Chris Doering)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask: This one is obvious, of course. Franks and Trask have been embroiled in a quarterback battle all spring, accounting for nearly all of the first-team reps with redshirt junior Luke Del Rio injured. Even if Del Rio was healthy, Franks and Trask likely would have been given the opportunity to win the job. Those that have watched open periods of spring practice note that Franks is having some difficulty with his short and intermediate routes, though he still appears to be well ahead of Trask for the job. Head coach Jim McElwain indicated that separation was beginning and that fans would be able to see that in the spring game.
Freshman Kadarius Toney: Currently listed as a quarterback, Toney is more of an athlete whose freak ability McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will try to use however they see fit. Toney did spend time working in the backfield this spring and is expected to have a special package of plays; just do not expect to see many of those on Friday as McElwain has promised a vanilla offense as to not give too much away to Michigan. (But seriously, would you have noticed anyway? Joking.)
Redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremiah Moon: With sophomore David Reese injured and classmate Vosean Joseph a relative known quantity, Moon was the linebacker with the most to gain during spring practice. He has apparently made a significant improvement, and considering the defensive line and secondary can only show so much in spring games, his ability to pursue and wrap up offensive players will be something to keep an eye on.
Freshman tight end Kemore Gamble: Florida’s tight ends took a step back last season, giving Gamble the opportunity to beat out two upperclassmen for some legitimate playing time this season. McElwain said he has the best hands on the entire team, which bodes well for Gamble, particularly as he’ll probably see more action than any other player at his position on Friday.
Wide receivers junior Antonio Callaway and sophomore Tyrie Cleveland: Callaway did not have his best sophomore campaign in 2016, taking a step back as a pass-catcher and a leap in the opposite direction as a return man. But this is the first spring practice he has been able to participate in since joining the Gators, and he’s apparently made the most of it. Cleveland broke out towards the end of last season as a true No. 2 option to Callaway, and he had all spring to ensure McElwain and Nussmeier understood that he’s a starter.
The entire defense: While Moon covers the linebackers to watch, the entire defense was ravaged by early departures and graduations. This will be the first chance to tell whether the defensive line and secondary have any chance of matching the production of their respective units over the last few seasons. If not, this may be Florida’s worst defense since 2007.
» Out for spring: DE Jordan Sherit (knee), OL Antonio Riles (ACL), QB Luke Del Rio (shoulders), LB David Reese (wrist), WR Freddie Swain (shoulder), DB Quincy Lenton (foot), DB Jeawon Taylor (shoulder)
» Out for game: WR Dre Massey (knee), LB James Houston IV (ACL), DB C.J. McWilliams (ACL)
» Junior Martez Ivey from guard to left tackle
» Senior Duke Dawson and sophomore Chauncey Gardner to cornerback
» Redshirt sophomore Richard Desir-Jones from offensive line to defensive line
» Junior Camrin Knight from tight end to linebacker