8/5: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

By Adam Silverstein
August 5, 2010

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators began fall practice Thursday and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, a bunch of players spoke with the former group in a press conference setting following the morning session. As the rookies/freshmen hit the field for the second practice of the day (the veterans competed earlier), OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

PRACTICE NOTES

» Redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan and sophomore Xavier Nixon shared first-team duties at left tackle. This may be a position of contention for quite some time.
» In similar fashion, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins are splitting first-team middle linebacker duties; however…
» Redshirt senior A.J. Jones and senior Brandon Hicks admitted that the coaches are making the linebackers learn all three positions. They also noted that the team may indeed run four linebackers at times but nothing is set in stone one way or another.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. practiced today. He is no longer on scholarship and is attempting to earn his way back onto the team.
» Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody is practicing even after having two surgeries this year to clean out bone spurs from his injured ankle. He will workout in full most days but may take some time off for precautionary measures.
» Though redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown, senior Moses Jenkins and freshmen Josh Shaw and Jaylen Watkins were the early favorites to start opposite junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, freshman Cody Riggs got some major endorsements from the team’s veterans, many of whom were impressed with his fluid footwork.

Check out what the players had to say about Thursday’s practice, last year’s team and the upcoming season…after the break!

PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

» Redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley told reporters that, unlike his predecessor Tim Tebow, he can walk on campus without being bothered most of the time – he looks and fits in just like a normal University of Florida student.

Brantley on finally being the starter: “It was a lot of fun to run out there and be with the ones. For the first day, we looked pretty good. I was real happy with it. We’re just going to keep getting better from here on out. Just knowing I’m the guy, I need to step in there and lead the team. Having those playmakers around me makes it easier on me. I have a different outlook on things knowing I’m going to be the guy stepping on the field.”

Brantley on the team’s chemistry going into the season: “We went through a hard offseason and we went through it together. We were always joking outside the weight room. I’ve noticed this team is really closer than years past.”

» Brantley also praised redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who he claims hasn’t dropped a ball since they started working together and had a perfect practice on Thursday. Thompson told reporters that he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash in the offseason. If that’s the case, he should be on the track team with the Gators running backs.

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey may have been the most outspoken out of the bunch, making it a point to explain how close the team is this year. “Everybody’s sweet to each other. We call each other, talk to each other. I don’t care where you’re at. Playing video tournaments at houses. It’s a lot of fun this year like I’ve never seen before here. […] The great thing is we did it on our own. The coaches didn’t make us do it. Everybody likes each other.”

Rainey also thinks the team is better off now that some problem children are playing professionally. “I guess we got rid of the prima donnas – all the selfish cats. That’s probably it right there. Guys who were worried about themselves or worried about trying to get to the NFL.” Ouch.

» Senior center Mike Pouncey somewhat agrees with Rainey’s assessment of the team’s chemistry. “We’ve bonded more as a team this year.”

Taking over the middle of the offensive line for his brother Maurkice, Pouncey is a fan of what Brantley brings to the table. “I think we’re going to have a great team this year and Johnny B is going to hold his own and everyone is going to be surprised how he plays. I think he’s going to do a really good job.”

Pouncey also said that he expects to be “a lot better” and “better get drafted higher” than Maurkice in the 2011 NFL Draft. “I ain’t come back for no reason.”

Though most players shied away from discussing the loss to Alabama in the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship, Pouncey spoke about it for a minute. “We lost a game last year because of accountability issues. We weren’t fully prepared as a team. It was real embarrassing. We figured that would happen because there were a lot of distractions that week. When you think about it after the game, what you could have done, you weren’t fully prepared.”

» Senior safety Ahmad Black put Florida’s thoughts about the rematch with Alabama quite succinctly: “We have games before that, we have games after that.”

Black also said he is excited about the secondary this year and thinks it can live up to expectations. There’s no question in my mind the guys we have this year can be equal to what we had [in the secondary] last year.”

» Redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson concurs with Pouncey’s sentiments about the team’s togetherness. “Tebow was a once in a lifetime quarterback. You can never replace a player like that, but we have a phenomenal quarterback in John Brantley. The offensive line believes in him and everyone is buying into the system.”

Johnson, who is double majoring in sociology and criminology, is set to graduate and told the media that he has already turned down a job offer from the FBI. “I’m not big on putting my life on the line yet. I’ve got a lot of life to live yet.”

» Redshirt senior guard Maurice Hurt is also in agreement with the prevailing thoughts. “Every player took it upon themselves [in the off season]. That sick feeling they got, they don’t want to feel that after the game. Every player made a personal commitment to work as hard as we can to get to Atlanta.”

» Now that Tebow is not running the ball as much anymore, junior running back Jeff Demps is excited to be able to carry the ball on important downs. “It’s exciting just to give us a chance to get that feeling.”

» Senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders is a “go” for practice even after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and having surgery on it in January. “Nothing worse can happen. If I get hurt on the field, then I get hurt doing what I love to do. So, no, I’m not going to hold anything back.” Sanders will wear a knee brace all season.

» Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody on five-star freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd “[He looks like he] just stepped out of prison.” Moody was talking about Floyd’s build.

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Palm Beach Post for the quotes and some of the information utilized in this report.

5 Comments

  1. zach says:

    good stuff

  2. El Meester says:

    Oh man, keep these coming Adam…

    Brantley: Your on-campus popularity will change very quickly. Enjoy these times you have now…

    Loving what they might do with the LBs. My first instinct was to think we may see a lot of 3-4 and 4-4 defenses. Keep the most talented players on the field as often as possible.

    Same for the CBs…loving the competition. Very excited about Shaw and Riggs. More excited knowing that they have Ja Jenkins still here to bring them up. The ’07 secondary didn’t have that…

    I was a little worried about what Ahmad Black’s attitude was going to be this year after hearing all the rumors about him this past offseason, but so far he’s been a pleasant surprise. He seems to really be taking hold of that Senior Leadership role that all teams need in order to be successful. I’m really pulling for him this year.

    Sharrif Floyd. Enough said.

  3. Ralph Seegobin says:

    Always a great job, Adam. Go Gators!

  4. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    You have to understand that it would be tough when last year was more about Tebow and less about the team…that is not Tebows fault in any way but it’s just what happens when you have someone with his credentials and popularity come back for his senior year…….I just wish we didn’t see Bama til December…if we went in and pulled the upset it will just make winning the SEC championship game that much harder

  5. John Shanks says:

    I can’t wait to see how Brantley performs against Bama’s secondary.

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