Freshman defensive end CeCe Jefferson received plenty of hype as a consensus five-star prospect and one of the top recruits in the country, but his dragged-out signing process after committing to the Florida Gators on National Signing Day earned him national headlines. Now, five practices into his Florida career, Jefferson is the topic of conversation again – for all the right reasons.
“He’s one of the young guys doing a heck of a job. He shows up, and he’s not the only young guy that’s been stepping up. I’m sure that he’s here. He’s a guy that can make an impact,” said head coach Jim McElwain after Monday’s practice, the first for the Gators in pads this fall. “[Defensive line coach Chris] Rumph really enjoys working with him. He’s a guy that’s eager to learn, jumped right in at everything we’re doing. That just speaks volumes of the type of kid he is, too.”
Jefferson (6-foot-1, 275 pounds) has received praise from his teammates for not only his toughness but also his desire to contribute and succeed as a true freshman.
“He’s showing grit. He’s showing that he can work. He’s showing that he can make plays, and he’s doing that,” junior safety Keanu Neal said.
“Coach Rumph has done a great job wherever he’s been at to develop guys. … We have confidence – I have confidence, the D-line has confidence, Coach Mac has confidence – everybody has confidence in Coach Rumph to do what he always does, make the D-line special.”
Florida’s defensive line returns a number of bodies, but it is light on experience and past production with some of the unit’s top starters from a year ago having either graduated or leaving early for the NFL. Also changing is the Gators’ position coach, who has been well-received not only by the players but also his fellow coaches.
“Coach Rumph has done a great job wherever he’s been at to develop guys,” said associate head coach and linebackers coach Randy Shannon “We have confidence – I have confidence, the D-line has confidence, Coach Mac has confidence – everybody has confidence in Coach Rumph to do what he always does, make the D-line special.”
» Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Travaris Dorsey and sophomore wide receiver C.J. Worton went down Monday with undisclosed leg injuries. They were unable to finish practice, but McElwain was unable to pinpoint their specific ailments. Later Monday night, Worton tweeted that his trip to the hospital “didn’t end bad,” exclaiming, “WHOOOOOO!!!” Worton broke his hand last season.
» Redshirt junior defensive end Alex McCalister is dealing with a hamstring injury that he initially suffered over the summer, according to McElwain.
» Senior linebacker Antonio Morrison (knee) remains non-contact and will likely stay that way through fall practice. Still, McElwain continues to be impressed with what he sees from Morison just seven months after his undisclosed injury.
“It’s amazing to me how far along he is to where we probably thought he would be,” he said. “It’s just a credit to how much he invested into this football team once he’s invested personally to come back and help us. He’s in a ton of drills. We try to keep him away from certain angle blocking plays. For right now, just keep testing it, keep testing it.”
» Redshirt senior transfer LB Anthony Harrell is currently nursing a foot injury and is in a boot, McElwain said. He is not practicing.
“Obviously, the first day in pads is always fun because kind of able to see some of the guys that you sometimes maybe flash you know when you’re in just helmets and underwear. And the ones that come out there in pads, but I was really pleased you didn’t see anybody back down. I thought our young guys are doing a heck of a job especially up front and kind of really of really liking to see how those guys are working together – we’ve kind of kept those units together. Teaching them how to talk and that kind of stuff so that’s been pretty good. …
“Happy to kind of get a little bit of the heat of the day in and other than that continually working on pitching and catching, and I think we got a little bit better at that, and yet, consistency really kind of take grasp from there.”
Bits and notes
» Shannon on how many guys he expects to rotate at linebacker: “Don’t really know. To be perfectly honest with you, I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you how many guys are going to play in the rotation or certain situations. … We just play the best guys to fit what we’re trying to get done at that particular time. … It will be a great competition, but I can’t tell you who’s going to be the two guys or the three guys or whoever we use at that particular time.”
» Redshirt senior offensive lineman Trip Thurman, who will be rotating all over the field this season but likely settle at guard, has been impressed with freshman linemates Martez Ivey and Tyler Jordan. “Physically, [Ivey is] a specimen. He’s a big guy coming in as a true freshman, and he’s going to be a big part of this offensive line moving forward. He stood out – him and Tyler Jordan have stood out because they want to learn. They’re in the meeting rooms with me and [offensive line coach Mike] Summers watching plays, being ready to go come practice time,” he said.
» Florida had to change hotels for fall camp with many of the veterans going home to their apartments while the younger players moved to a new establishment. McElwain would not explain why. “We had a little mishap – that I won’t really divulge – but we had to move the guys,” he said.
» With Adam Lane transferring, will sophomore Brandon Powell, whom McElwain moved to wide receiver this offseason, return to the backfield? “Is Powell listed as a running back or a wideout? OK, good. He’s a wideout,” McElwain quipped.
» Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris reportedly took more first-team reps on Monday than he did in prior practices, though all indications are that redshirt freshman Will Grier has an early lead in the yet-to-be decided battle.