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Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain — and a trio of players — will take center stage in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday at the 2016 SEC Media Days.
Florida will be one of the first three teams featured in the event, joining Auburn and Vanderbilt on Monday’s schedule. Live coverage will be offered from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on SEC Network both on television and online (all times Eastern).
The event will open with Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey addressing the gathered media at 12:35 p.m. The Gators will be featured beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Representing Florida in Hoover will be redshirt senior linebacker Jarrad Davis, senior safety Marcus Maye and junior offensive lineman David Sharpe. Not part of UF’s contingent is junior cornerback Jalen Tabor, arguably the best player on the team. Tabor claims he will hold his own media day on social media (which OnlyGators.com will pay attention to and share any notable details).
Here are five things you can expect to hear plenty about from the Gators on Monday along with predictions for how McElwain will discuss the topics.
1. The status of UF’s suspended players. Sophomore wide receiver Antonio Callaway was recently allowed to begin using the team facilities, while junior quarterback Treon Harris has not been discussed since McElwain announced the players’ suspension in early March. Both are part of Florida’s media guide and still listed on the team website. McElwain prediction: It’s being handled. Antonio has been allowed to use team facilities, and we will update you if his status changes.
2. Naming the Gators’ starting quarterback. Redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio looks to be the obvious front-runner for the job, but McElwain would not count redshirt senior Austin Appleby out of the competition at any point during the spring, including after Del Rio’s solid showing in the scrimmage. So coach, how is Del Rio handling the presumed starting role? McElwain: Austin’s really done some great things out there. We’ll see how they handle the leadership piece when we get together this summer.
3. Florida has a kicker now. When talk of suspensions and quarterbacks get old, the gathered media will turn to redshirt sophomore Eddy Pineiro, the inexperienced but impressive kicker who booted long field goals during the spring and has continued his run as a social media sensation since joining the team. While the truth is that Pineiro still needs game experience and has a long way to go to being truly reliable, it’s all about flash at media days and he has plenty of that. McElwain: You guys watched him on YouTube, huh? Impressive, right? Spring was about him learning to get his helmet buckled. He’ll need to have a really good summer.
4. What if Tennessee wins? The Vols will almost assuredly be voted to win the SEC East by the media in Hoover as UT is one of the hottest topics in the SEC this offseason (as has been the case recently). While talk during Tennessee’s session will be whether this is the year it actually beats Florida, the Gators will surely be bombarded with questions about maintaining their winning streak and trying to win the SEC East in back-to-back years. There’s Tabor’s Twitter trash talk to account for, too. McElwain: They should beat the heck out of us, right? We’ll be lucky just to show up but that’s why you play the game.
5. Nick Saban, Nick Saban, Nick Saban. Did you know McElwain was once Saban’s offensive coordinator? Well if you didn’t, you’ll hear about it plenty once again this week, particularly as Saban is going after Bear Bryant’s national title record this season and another one of his disciples, Kirby Smart, is taking over at Georgia. That means three former Saban coordinators are now leading SEC teams with McElwain, Smart and former Florida head coach Will Muschamp (now at South Carolina, of course). McElwain will share nothing but praise for his former boss, co-worker and Muschamp, but damn, it must be tiring to be somewhere to talk about your team and get asked about rivals and competitors. McElwain: ::sigh::
OnlyGators.com will provide updates throughout the day on Twitter with a complete wrap-up coming Monday night at the conclusion of the day’s festivities.