3/17: Gators excited about future of the offense

With the Florida Gators starting spring practice for the 2011 season on Wednesday, the school made many of the team’s offensive players available to the media after the second day of action on Thursday. There was a noticeable excitement in the air about the possibilities in Florida’s new offense under coordinator Charlie Weis, as evidenced by some of the notable news and quotes provided during the press sessions.

BRANTLEY COMFORTABLE, READY TO MOVE ON

The subject of plenty of ire from Gator Nation in 2010, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is ready to put his and the team’s struggles behind him and move on with an enthusiastic outlook on the possibilities this season. Brantley explained that, while transferring was a consideration, he never stopped being a Gator during that period. “There wasn’t really a day where [I decided to] come back. I never left,” he said. “I never decided to leave because I wanted to be a Gator. So I never really left. I just decided this was still the place I want to be and this is where I am.”

Part of the reason Brantley chose to stick around was Weis and his penchant for developing quarterbacks. “That definitely helped,” he said. “Coach Weis is a genius for the offense. He’s going to do great things here. This whole new coaching staff is going to do great things here. […] He’s got a great track record. You can put a lot of trust in his hands because he knows what he’s doing and has got a track record to show it.”

The duo is already getting along “pretty good,” said Brantley, who noted that he is comfortable in the offense. “We haven’t had too much time together but time spent has been good. We’re getting that relationship. He’s a real cool guy. He loves to coach us hard, but he understands how we are and is going to do great things here. […] This [pro-style offense] is more my style. This is what I do – just drop back and throw it. We have some great running backs to take that pressure off of everything. All around I think it’s going to be a great thing.”

Asked if he lost confidence in himself last year, Brantley avoided the question by looking ahead to the future. “That’s the past. I’ve moved on, he said. “That’s what’s good about this new coaching staff – you’re starting new, from scratch, and building from there.”

RECEIVERS CONFIDENT IN BRANTLEY

Asked to evaluate how they believe Brantley will perform in Weis’s offense, three of Florida’s primary receivers for 2011 sounded amped for the senior. “I feel like Brantley is loving this offense,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose said*. “He’s enjoying every second of it. Him and Coach Weis, those two are enjoying each other a lot. I can tell; they’re bonding a lot.”

Junior Omarius Hines and redshirt senior Deonte Thompson conveyed similar sentiments. “Oh yeah. Brantley will be very comfortable,” said Hines, with Thompson adding*, “The offense will be a great fit for him, a great fit.”

REED GETTING RAVE REVIEWS

Spring practice has just begun, but one of the hottest names among the Gators is redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed. Originally supposed to move to that position last year, Reed did not have much time to develop there in the offseason and a spread offense in need of athleticism from the signal caller brought him back into that role.

“Hopefully, I’ll be better than last year because I’ll just be focusing on tight end,” Reed said*. “It is kind of a relief because I can focus on getting better at one thing, and I don’t have to be a jack-of-all-trades, as they say. […] I’m just happy I can help out any way I can with the offense. If it’s me getting the ball, then that will be good. If it’s me blocking, anyway I can help.”

Brantley, the man who will be throwing him the ball and making sure he is productive, is just as excited about the change. “[Reed]‘s going to be a huge weapon,” he said*. “It’s great to have a guy attached to the line, be able to block, be able to run for routes and be able to flex out into the slot and do the same things from there. It’s going to be huge for us to have that, and he’s going to be a dynamic player for us. We’ve got a lot of athletes, but he’s definitely one of the most athletic, that’s for sure.”

Thompson was also pumped about how Reed can help. “He’s a great athlete. He runs good routes, too. He’s diverse, man, so he’ll be great at tight end,” he said.

TAKING A DEEPER ROUTE

The receivers each had a glimmer in their eyes when a particular question was asked of them. That question? “Are you noticing any differences in the routes this year?” Hines, trying to distinguish how they are different, realized it was a pretty simple answer. “The routes are just deeper…not really different…just deeper,” he said. Thompson, who said he expects to play X receiver mostly but should see some time at the Z position as well, conveyed that the deeper routes are much-needed. “That’s really exciting,” he said. “Now the [defensive backs] can’t just sit on us.”

Perhaps the most notably excited overall was sophomore WR Solomon Patton. “The coaching staff that we have this year, I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “I just feel like our swag is back. This coaching staff is so laid back, but at the same time they’re coaching us hard. They’re letting us play how we’ve been recruited to play. I’m really excited.”

QUOTES

Brantley on where the team is at right now: “We’re a long way from where we want to be, but it was a good start yesterday.”

Hines on his outlook for the offense: “Once we get everything situated, it’ll be real good.”

Hines on being in good shape: “The offseason program was difficult. A lot of running… but it was worth it.”

Debose on if he is anxious to learn the new system: “It’s a lot different. It’s a totally different offense from last year. Going through the winter program and the winter workouts, we’ve been really anxious just to get on the field and do football instead of just conditioning and everything.”

Debose on how he is adjusting: “I’m still trying to learn and just soak up all the information Coach Weis is asking of us. I can’t really tell you what they’re going to do with me; it’s just basic information right now.”

Debose on participating in spring practice: “This is actually my first spring that I was actually able to practice on the first day of practice. Everything is pretty much new to me, too, so I’m still trying to pick up the way practice is going.”

Debose on what WR position he can/will play: “I see my role everywhere. I’m able to play inside or outside.”

Thompson on being listed at the F position on the initial depth chart: “I think that was a misprint. I haven’t been in the slot yet. Frankie is in the slot.”

Redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy on how reps are being shared^: “We’re all getting equal reps. Come in the fall, none of us will be upset, and we’ll all be content with the decision knowing we all got a fair chance.”

Murphy on rumors he was going to transfer to Temple*: “It was a coincidence that [Steve Addazio] did go to Temple. But I really like this school. I enjoy it off the field and academics are great. I thought it would be best if I stayed and give it a shot.”

Attribution: Quotes without marks were acquired by OGGOA. Those marked with * are courtesy of The Gainesville Sun, and those with a ^ are courtesy of the Palm Beach Post.

(2) Florida Gators outclass (15) UCSB Gauchos 79-51 to open 2011 NCAA Tournament

In a day filled with buzzer-beaters and close calls, the No. 2-seed Florida Gators (27-7) strayed from the norm and smacked down the No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-14) 79-51 in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. with the win, Florida earned its first NCAA Tournament victory since defeating Ohio State for the 2007 national title.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons led the way for the Gators with 10 points, 10 assists and seven boards, while junior point guard Erving Walker was the team’s leading scorer posting 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-for-6 from downtown).

UCSB opened the game by winning the tip-off and hitting a free throw, but it was all Florida the rest of the way. The Gators started their dominance with a 10-0 run including a pair of treys from Parsons and soon after used a 17-2 run to jump ahead 35-13.

Florida took a 25-point lead a few minutes later and outshot Santa Barbara 58.1 percent to 27.3 percent in the first half. The Gators also out-rebounded the Gauchos 19-9 and stole the ball five more times (8-3) to force an extra handful of turnovers (5-10).

UF continued their onslaught after the break, jumping ahead a game-high 34 points midway through the second half. UCSB failed to make any headway in the latter portion of the game as Florida substituted most of their bench and held on for the victory.

Joining Parsons and Walker with impressive outings were sophomore guard Kenny Boynton (13 points) and senior F Alex Tyus (eight points, seven boards). Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin finished with 10 points, and freshman C Patric Young added six points and six rebounds (three offensive).

G/F Orlando Johnson led Santa Barbara with a game-high 21 points, and teammate F James Nunnally contributed 12 points.

The Gators finished the game shooting 54.7 percent from the floor while holding the Gauchos to 36.2 percent efficiency. UF was also 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) from beyond the arc and 13-for-17 from (76.5 percent) from the charity stripe.

Florida will move on to face the winner of No. 7-seed UCLA vs. No. 10-seed Michigan State in round of 32 action on Saturday in Tampa. The game’s start time and television carrier are yet to be determined but will be announced here when available.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (15) UCSB

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 6:50 p.m. (EST)

TV: TBS / TBS-HD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (15) UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bob Williams
Record: 26-7 Record: 18-13
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -12.5; O/U 127.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 29-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UF’s No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history.
» Donovan is 22-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .733 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» Florida is 13-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). The Gators have captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» The Gators and Gauchos are meeting for the first time. Florida will also be facing an opponent from the Big West conference for the first time in school history.
» Florida is 4-3 all-time in the St. Pete Times Forum (1-1 in the NCAA Tournament).
» UF is averaging a +13.7-point margin of victory in 22 tournament wins under Donovan.
» The Gators are 21-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 18 of their last 22 games (and 10 of their last 12) including 16 against RPI top 100 teams. The Gators have not lost back-to-back contests since Feb. 2010.
» UF is 10-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,402 points) and is one of only two active Division I players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Florida bests UC Santa Barbara in three of four major national statistical categories. The Gators lead the Gauchos in points per game 71.5-68.4 (98th-184th), rebounding 37.5-32.6 (49th-284th) and field goal percentage .462-.456 (51st-72nd); however, UCSB dishes more assists 14.5-13.7 (67th-106th). UF also sports a superior defense, forcing opponents to score fewer points per game 63.0-65.4. Florida ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and seventh in strength of schedule nationally compared to Santa Barbara being 153rd (.5024) and 20th, respectively.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Coming out of the Big West, No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara awaits Florida in the first round of the tournament. UCSB earned a berth by winning the 2011 Big West Tournament even though they finished the regular season tied for fourth place with an 8-8 league record. The Gauchos defeated Big West-leading Long Beach State in the title game after losing to them by a combined 33 points in two regular season contests. What UCSB does have going for them is guard/forward Orlando Johnson, the Big West’s leading scorer with an average of 21.1 points in 33.2 minutes.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.5) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.411) and three-point percentage (.378). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (80) and steals (37).
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is hitting 37.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.31 points per game and makes a team-high 81.7 percent of his free throws.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.4 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He averages just 8.7 points and 5.5 boards each game.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.7 boards.
» UCSB G/F Orlando Johnson…who leads his team in scoring and rebounding by posting averages of 21.1 points and 6.3 boards per game. Johnson plays a team-high 33.2 minutes each contest and shoots 40.1 percent from downtown.
» Gauchos F James Nunnally…who is second to only Johnson on UCSB with averages of 16.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. Nunnally hits 82.9 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe and plays 32.9 minutes per game.

FOUR BITS: Pouncey, softball, lacrosse, WNIT

1 » Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has signed an endorsement deal with Core Synergy, a company that sells wristbands of titanium and silicone rubber that claim to hold a positive charge that reverses “the effect of pain in the body caused by negative energy fields. Other athlete “ambassadors” of the product include Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick and Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk.

2 » No. 2/3 Florida Gators softball (27-1, 4-0 SEC) tore the cover off the ball on Wednesday, defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-14, 2-2 SEC) 8-0 and 18-1 in a doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Senior first baseman Megan Bush (2-5, HR, 5 RBI, R, 2 BB) hit a grand slam in the opening game and tied a school record with a still active 16-game hitting streak. However, her offensive production paled in comparison to senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (6-7, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R) who blew up with a home run in each game. She also knocked in nearly more than third of the team’s 26 combined runs. Freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (13-1) drew the start in both games, earning a pair of wins while tossing 9.0 innings, striking out four and only giving up six hits and a single unearned run.

3 » No. 8/10 Florida lacrosse (7-1) saw success earlier in the week with a dominating 18-6 victory over the Colgate Raiders (3-4) on Tuesday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Sophomore midfielder Brittany Dashiell scored five goals and registered six points in the contest, both career-highs. She was joined by three other Gators (sophomores M Kitty Cullen, attacker Ashley Bruns and A Janine Hiller) as a foursome of players who registered hat tricks in the win.

4 » Florida women’s basketball, which finished the season a lackluster 18-14, earned a berth to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and will face the UMBC Retrievers (20-11) in first-round action on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be hosted at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, marking UF’s 17th postseason berth in 19 seasons.

Billy Donovan’s pre-NCAA Tournament quotes

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament getting underway, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the media in Tampa, FL about a number of topics including his team’s mission, the most difficult part of the event and if it is tough not to look ahead. OGGOA has compiled some choice quotes from Wednesday, which you can find below:

On if his team is on a mission: “When you have a chance to go through different experiences throughout your college career, you hopefully learn from some of your experiences. […] Going into this year, they wanted to try to experience more than they did a year ago, and that can be said in our conference schedule, can be said in a conference tournament, and I think going into the NCAA Tournament.

“There’s not a team in this tournament that doesn’t want the feeling or the excitement of moving on and advancing, so I don’t know if their feeling is any different from any other player that’s in the tournament.”

On if too much is made of site location and traveling: “For Santa Barbara certainly traveling across the country, that’s always a difficult travel. When the game starts tomorrow night and the ball is thrown up, all that stuff will be out the window. The fact that we’re in the state of Florida will be thrown out the window because we’re going to have to go out and play. Although we’re in our own state, this is not an arena that we have played in. Maybe last year we played Syracuse here. But it’s not a place that we’re necessarily comfortable with or have played a lot of games here. It’s a new building for both teams. This time of year, with the excitement of the tournament and guys getting the opportunity to play in postseason play, when the ball goes up, you’re just going to have two teams playing and competing against each other.”

On if it is difficult for the team not to look ahead past UC Santa Barbara: “I really don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us. We have a group of players right now that have never, ever won an NCAA Tournament game on our team in a Florida Gator uniform. So we understand what a challenge Santa Barbara is going to be [Thursday].

“I don’t think those guys are even thinking about anything else but Santa Barbara right now. You know, we’ve had a lot to get prepared for because we’re playing against a team that we’re unfamiliar with, they’re unfamiliar with us. There’s a lot both coaching staffs have got to do to familiarize their teams with personnel and schemes, so I’m not really worried about that. Our guys are totally focused on playing [Thursday].”

On the most difficult part of his job coaching this team in the tournament: “This is different right now than any time in the year. We normally don’t have a media press conference. We normally don’t have an open locker room. We normally don’t have an open practice. There are things that go on that are totally different that your normal daily routine that you would have in your non-conference schedule and your conference schedule. The understanding of how to deal with and manage all that.

“But this is really a time of year that’s exciting. There’s a lot more national attention, so to speak, at this point in time than maybe there was before. It’s exciting. But as you mentioned, it also can be distracting and how your players can handle and manage that, I think, is very, very important.”

Florida players’ pre-NCAA Tournament quotes

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament getting underway, the Florida Gators spoke with members of the media in Tampa, FL about a number of topics including their recent slow starts, opening game opponent, expectations and preparation. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important quotes over the last two days, which you can find below:

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin on Florida starting slow the last few games: “I think we’ve got to come out more aggressive, looking to attack and looking to pass the ball to each other, just play harder in the first half than we do the second half. We’re going to carry it over to the second half like we always do and play 40 minutes of basketball. We just got to be more aggressive going to the hole and making more plays and extra passes.”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons on the expectations of making a deep run: “I think the biggest thing with us, we can’t worry about expectations. In the beginning of the season, we were preseason Top 10 and people put all these expectations. It’s about what you make of that. As a 2 seed, I think we had a great year and I think we’re very deserving of a 2 seed. The thing is all a 2 seed gives you is just what you’ve done up until now. Basically whatever we’ve done until now is over with and it starts all over again Thursday. We’ve just got to go one game at a time and no matter if we’re a 2 seed or a 10 seed or a 14 seed, we’ve just got to play one game at a time. This is it. When we lose, our three careers are over. So we’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”

Macklin on Santa Barbara: “We know, like Coach [Billy] Donovan said, they have a shooting guard, a small forward that’s pretty aggressive and they know how to put the ball in the hole and win the tournament. In their tournament, their shooting guard averaged 28 points a game for three games and their small forward is putting up 17, and their center was at 12. So that’s an offensively aggressive team and they play great defense, also. We got to go in and play hard against those guys and play hard every single possession.”

Senior F Alex Tyus on having Donovan as a coach: “I think it’s a huge advantage, just knowing that we have a coach that has gotten to a championship game multiple times on this stage, we just really have to take his experience, take what he says and believe in him and follow him and help each other, and we’ll be okay.”

Parsons on losing meaning the end of his Gators career: “It’s huge. Being a senior, this is it for us. And it’s been a great run for us and we’ve had a blast. When we’re out there, we’re going to leave it all out there because we know if we lose a game, that’s it. So we don’t want to have that feeling we had in the locker room after the SEC Tournament against Kentucky. We want to finish our career as a winner. We’re just going to play extremely hard and keep executing our stuff and trying to defend really hard and just do all the things that Coach Donovan has been talking about all year and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”

Parsons on the four-year journey coming to an end: “I think it’s really special. Being a four-year player, I’ve experienced so much here. I’ve been through many ups and downs and it’s been a great season this year for all we’ve accomplished and all the close games and just the way we’ve all played and battled. Last year I felt like we got a taste of getting back to the NCAA Tournament, and I think that’s really helped us with all the close games we had this year, us being a mature and humble team to come back and that’s really helped us for the tournament run we’re going to make this year. We want to go out a winner.”

Parsons on not having won a NCAA Tournament game yet: “I think positively that we’re hungry. We want to win, we want to win big, and we want to go as far as we possibly can in this tournament. Like I said, last year going into double overtime of BYU, we got a taste of what it’s like and how hard you have to compete just to get a win. Because like I said, it came down to the last possession three times last year and we fell short. But I think it really gave us a good experience getting there, and we have a lot better understanding of it this year.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on preparation this season: “We’re much better prepared this year. We know what to expect this year. Last year we were so focused on being in the tournament that we got complacent. This year we’re forced more on us.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker on being more experienced: “That’s huge but that doesn’t necessarily automatically you’ll win games. But that should help us out – just being older and being through different situations and knowing what to expect.”

3/16: Muschamp’s thoughts from spring practice

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2011 season on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp met the media afterward to discuss a variety of topics including the offseason program, injuries and happenings on the field. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his availability.

CLEARING UP MISCONCEPTIONS

Contrary to conjecture elsewhere, Muschamp confirmed that the only reason senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins is sitting out spring practice strictly due to his offseason shoulder surgery – not his run-in with the law earlier this year. “He had reconstructive shoulder surgery from the season, so there’s no contact,” he said. “A lot of his situation coming back was not being able to go through the combine or any type of offseason workout. No testing for any scouts. He felt like he could help the situation by coming back and getting his shoulder healthy. He just got out of the sling two weeks ago, I think.”

Muschamp also divulged that redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who got some playing time late in the season, is officially back on scholarship after having it pulled by former head coach Urban Meyer due to a DUI arrest.

DAY ONE ACTIVITIES

Though he was excited to get on the field Wednesday and see his players work, Muschamp cautioned that not much can be taken away from the day’s events – especially considering the players were without helmets and still trying to find their groove. “Day one, we’re out there in shorts, pajamas running around. You don’t play football in that; you play football in pads,” he said. “Everybody was going to be enthusiastic. Today was easy.”

He also stressed the importance he put on practice in general. “I want the guys that guys that like ball, want to be out there all the time,” Muschamp said. “Practice is a huge part of the game; preparation is a huge part of the game. The really good players I’ve been around, they’ve practiced.”

BEING INJURED IS NOT ALWAYS AN EXCUSE

Muschamp certainly does not have plans to aggravate injuries or cause old ones to flare up, but he did divulge a policy on practicing, noting that he expects maximum effort at all times even if players are not 100 percent. He also commented that the unfinished depth chart will not show the names of players who are not participating in full.

“Guys that don’t go through the full offseason, they don’t deserve to be in the two-deep [depth chart], in my opinion. Injuries are part of the game, but it’s also a part of our evaluation,” he said. “We want durable, dependable players. If you’re not going to practice, you’re not going to play. Practice is important to me; it’s preparation. Those things are critical to me.

“Now if you’ve got an injury, a surgical situation, then I understand that. I understand that injuries are a part of the game. We also have to move on and prepare somebody else, and that’s why we cross-train guys at a lot of positions, so they’re able to get out and prepare for game seven when somebody goes down. So we’re able to get the best 11 on the field instead of putting a guy out there that’s maybe not as good as somebody else sitting on the sideline.”

Jokingly, Muschamp was amazed at how healthy players suddenly get when it is time to step out of the weight room and onto the field.

“When we get into fall camp, the injury report will be two pages long. And the day before the first week, the injury report will have two names on it. In the offseason program we’ve got a two-page-long injury report; we had three names on it today,” he said. “My point being, when they get close to football and playing, they all get well. It’s never changed no matter if it’s Florida or anywhere else I’ve been. It’s amazing how that happens. The trainer rides in on his white horse and all of a sudden gets them well. It’s phenomenal.”

QUOTES

On how the first day felt to him: “I love the offseason program. It’s one of my favorite times of the year to see your team develop and develop your football team in that time. To really see guys push through a tough time when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. To get on the grass and coach – that’s my most fun thing to do. And I like spring because you’re able to really develop and teach [without] the pressure of getting ready for a game.”

On how quarterback reps are being distributed: “All three guys are repping through practice right now. All of those are getting turns and reps. We’re really right now rolling a lot of players regardless. We don’t necessarily have first group, second group. All guys have repped with all groups, so it’s not like one guy is getting all the reps with one group.”

On how to keep five-star QB Jeff Driskel level-headed with all of the hype coming in: “Treat him like everybody else. The guy’s absolutely no different to me other than the fact that he’s got a red jersey on the field because he’s a quarterback. That’s it.”

On recruiting rankings: “What you’ve accomplished in high school does not mean you’ve accomplished anything in college. It’s a different game; it’s a different level. I always tell them, ‘You can take all the stars and…’ You can fill in the sentence. If you live in yesterday, you’ll never see tomorrow.”

On what buck defensive end Ronald Powell brings to the table: “Ronald’s an explosive, strong, tough, hard-nosed football player. He’s a guy that we feel like we can create some one-on-ones and some mismatches for an offense. He’s a guy I think you’re going to need to account for based on what I’ve seen so far in the offseason program, his film from last year. I think he’s a good player and a guy we’re looking forward to seeing how productive he can be over the long haul.”

Gators 2011 early enrollees pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida Gators football has started spring practice for the 2011 season, the team’s newest members to have chosen/been assigned theirs. The current freshman roster of early enrollees, according to the University of Florida, can be found below:

» No. 16 Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), five-star quarterback
» No. 81 A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star tight end
» No. 26 De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star cornerback
» No. 22 Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star running back
» No. 87 Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star wide receiver
» No. 86 Clay Burton (Venice, FL), four-star defensive end/linebacker
» No. 44 Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN), three-star punter

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