The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (49-40)

With just 40 days to go until the Florida Gators‘ 2011-12 football season gets underway, the sixth part of OGGOA‘s new series, The Countdown, takes a look at those players expected to contribute on the field wearing jersey numbers ranging from 49-40.

49 – Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL)
Sophomore linebacker
6’2” 230 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Kitchens was a late commit to Florida who is currently majoring in social & behavioral sciences.

2010 Season: Played on the kickoff coverage team in 10 of 13 games during his freshman season, registering a pair of tackles.

2011 Outlook: Slotted as a second/third-string weakside linebacker on the spring depth chart, Kitchens may see the field on defense during his second year with the team but will do so in a reserve role.

48 – Neiron Ball (Jackson, GA)
Sophomore linebacker
6’2” 220 lbs.

Quick Bio: An early enrollee last spring, Ball was a four-star prospect who was All-State in Georgia and currently majors in social & behavioral sciences.

2010 Season: On the field for all 13 games, Ball accumulated 10 tackles while mostly serving as a member of the kickoff and kickoff return special teams units.

2011 Outlook: After a blood vessel ruptured in his brain back in February, Ball hospitalized, treated and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in his brain. Now healthy and recovering, he has been unable to practice or workout with the team and is expected to take a medical redshirt for his sophomore season. Ball hopes to return when he is completely healthy and in football shape next year.

47 – John Crofoot (Windemere, FL)
Redshirt sophomore kicker
5’11” 155 lbs.

Quick Bio: A walk-on who majors in business, Crofoot spent his freshman year as a long snapper but eventually took a redshirt after he did not see the field.

2010 Season: Transitioning to a kicker and holder, he played in nine games last year and helped then-punter/kicker Chas Henry complete some important field goals including the 37-yard game-winner in overtime against Georgia.

2011 Outlook: Will compete for the holder job on field goals and extra points.

46 – Drew Ferris (Carlsbad, CA)
Sophomore long snapper
6’0” 215 lbs.

Quick Bio: A highly rated long snapper coming out of high school, the social & behavioral sciences major did not play as a freshman and took a redshirt in 2010.

2011 Outlook: Entered spring as the back-up long snapper and will likely retain that role throughout the season as long as redshirt sophomore Christopher Guido holds down his job.

44 – Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN)
Freshman punter
6’2” 195 lbs.

Quick Bio: An early enrollee this January, Christy was one of the highest rated punters in the nation coming out of high school and committed to Florida partially because of Henry’s departure and the ability to start right away.

2011 Outlook: The starter going into spring practice, he was called “a real talented guy” with “a real good leg” by head coach Will Muschamp in April. Muschamp has been putting extra pressure on him during practice by standing right next to him while punting in an effort to help him mature quickly and rid himself of any nervousness going into the season.

41 – Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, FL)
Freshman fullback
6’0” 237 lbs.

Quick Bio: The top-rated fullback nationally, Joyer enrolled in the summer and is expected to compete for time on the field right away.

2011 Outlook: On National Signing Day, Muschamp raved about how Joyer can help the team going forward. “We’re going to get back to more traditional as far as running two back runs. And he’s a young man that’s got a lot of lower body power, punch and explosion,” he said. “He’s a very strong young man. He lives in the weight room, and we’re excited to what he brings to our football team from a toughness standpoint.”

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

Gators safety Elam cited for underage drinking

Florida Gators safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking and given a notice to appear in court by Gainesville, FL police on Sunday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

Elam, who was also cited for possession of alcohol by a minor one year ago, was spotted by officers “with a plastic cup that contained a dark liquid,” the paper reports.

He then apparently tossed the cup, which allegedly contained Hennessy and Coca-Cola, before being written up on site for the violation.

On July 21, 2010, Elam pleaded no contest to his previous charge and was ordered to pay a small fine by an Alachua County court.

Set to start for the Gators at strong safety in 2011, Elam played in every game last season, registering 23 total tackles (three for a loss) and a blocked kick.

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Recapping Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 22, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below is a recap of the 2011 event which includes much of what was learned Friday evening in Gainesville, FL.

» Florida did not receive any commitments at the event, though that is not necessarily a negative. The Gators’ 15-member recruiting class is believed to be slightly larger already with a few silent commits in the fold. Most importantly, Florida’s new coaching staff made a positive impression on those in attendance and may have set themselves up for some big names to give their respective pledges in the near future.

» Five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Olney, MD) was the standout performer, hauling in catches, showcasing his athleticism and even performing a few Gator Chomps after scoring a touchdown. The No. 2 wide receiver in the 2012 class, No. 8 overall prospect and No. 1 player in his state, Diggs has 36 offers but has not narrowed his choices down yet. Former high school teammates with Gators redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins, Diggs stayed in Gainesville overnight and will get more personal time with coaches on Saturday. “It was a big stage out there tonight,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “I didn’t come down here for no reason. I had a feeling about Florida. I just knew it was going to be live, and that’s what I love.”

» Florida’s current commitments and players did what they could to help sway recruits to the Orange & Blue throughout the course of the evening. Most notable among them was sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who was in the ear of four-star defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA) all night long. The two reportedly got along great and developed a solid relationship at the event.

» Gators defensive coaches spent a ton of time with four-star defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (Forest City, NC), sticking by his side until he left the field and eventually headed home. Close friends with recent three-star safety commit Rhaheim Ledbetter (Boiling Springs, NC) and top Florida target four-star DE Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC), Watkins has spoken with the duo about all playing college together. He is also seriously considering South Carolina and Clemson.

» Though he did make it down to Gainesville, five-star Florida State DE commit Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL) remains solid to UF’s rival. He has expressed interest in Florida lately even though his father has no desire to see him wearing the Orange & Blue. The Gators are nevertheless pursuing Fowler in hopes of turning him, but he reiterated on Friday that his commitment to FSU is solid as of right now.

» Former Florida players in attendance included running back Fred Taylor, quarterback Chris Leak and wide receivers Jemalle Cornelius and Jacquez Green. Taylor, who visited with his son, 2013 RB prospect Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), served as a coach at the camp and was excited to finally bring his son to The Swamp. Cornelius and Green visited with players from the high schools they coach at and also had a good time. The younger Taylor showcased good hands and solid agility at the event, but it is unknown if the Gators have presented him with an offer yet.

» Five-star athlete Nelson Agholor (Tampa, FL) was planning to visit but ended up cancelling after he received a phone call from the hosts of the ESPN/Nike Gridiron Kings event in Orlando, FL, who asked him to fill in for a player who dropped out. Agholor, who has yet to narrow down his list which may or may not include Florida depending who you talk to, was just one of a few players who did not make it. Three-star cornerback Chris Bivins (Gainesville, FL) also took part in another event, and four-star cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, FL) stopped by for a few hours but left before FNL began. Four-star offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) was planning on going but simply could not find a ride. He is believed to be a heavy UF lean.

» Having shortened his list to Florida, Southern California and South Carolina, four-star defensive end Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) still has a ways to go in his recruitment (he does not plan to make an official announcement until January). Nevertheless, his time in Gainesville was well spent as he was able to continue developing his relationship with the coaches, who hope to earn his commitment as soon as possible McCord is one of the Gators’ top targets going forward.

Previewing Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

Updated at 5:40 p.m.

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 22, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of the top 10 players that share mutual interest in attending Florida as well as list of the top five most talented prospects who will be camping in Gainesville, FL. Neither list is sorted in any particular order.

DE Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA) –
The No. 5 player at his position in 2012, Jenkins recently attended Dawg Night but has not narrowed down his list into a top-five yet. He will visit Alabama after taking his trip to Florida and has already spent time with Auburn, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

DE Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) –
Slotted two spots below Jenkins, McCord visited UF with his parents in late June and is now returning one month later. South Carolina and North Carolina are also working hard to eventually win him over and earn his services, but it is believed that his final two are Florida and USC with the Gators out in front.

TE Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) –
The top-ranked tight end in the nation according to Rivals, Taylor has a myriad of offers on the table but appears to have narrowed his choices down to Florida and Penn State. His father seems to favor UF, but Taylor grew up as a PSU fan. Other schools in contention for his services include Florida State (where he nearly committed in the spring), Alabama, Auburn and LSU.

Check out the other nine players featured in this post…after the break!

Continue Reading » Previewing Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

Weis talks Brantley, Wenger at Gator Gathering

Just a day after head coach Will Muschamp entertained the media at the 2011 SEC Media Days, Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis filled in for him by participating in a Gator Gathering at the Marion County Gator Club.

During the event, Weis spoke about a number of topics but was most notably asked about the potential of redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley and the recent transfer of redshirt senior center Dan Wenger from Notre Dame.

After struggling one year ago, Brantley will be given the best chance possible to succeed, Weis said, because the goal is to develop the entire offense and not put all of the onus for success directly on his shoulders.

“When you put in a new offense, too much responsibility on any one player is not a very good philosophical idea,” Weis said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “The most important thing for me and the offensive staff is to figure out what we can do the best, and then just do a lot of that. Too many times in football people try to reinvent the wheel. What we have to do is develop a personality and find out what [Brantley] can do the best, and do that.”

The Super Bowl-winning offensive mind also reiterated that film of Brantley from last year has not done much to help his evaluation, even though he is confident in his ability to handle the offense and succeed long-term.

“It doesn’t help me very much because it’s so different from what I do,” Weis said. “[Brantley wasn’t] really in a true drop-back setting, so therefore I need to be able to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. […] In a pro-style offense, it’s more about whether you have all the physical tools to be able to run the offense – which he does. Then it’s mentally how do you handle it.”

Weis also spoke for the first time about Wenger, who joined the team in the summer and hopes to earn significant playing time considering his experience in Weis’s offense and as an player taught directly by new offensive line coach Frank Verducci at Notre Dame.

“He started a whole bunch of games for us at center and guard,” Weis said, according to GatorZone.com. “You want to talk about a bonus, a throw-in guy who has started about 30 games at center and guard? You can’t buy things like that. He’s really helped with those guys when we haven’t been able to be with them.”

Photo Credit: Unknown

Four Gators on media’s Preseason All-SEC Teams

Four Florida Gators student-athletes were named to the 2011 Preseason All-SEC Teams on Thursday, as voted on by 167 members of the media currently in attendance at the 2011 SEC Media Days in Birmingham, AL.

Florida, whose players were some of the league’s highest vote getters one year ago, only placed redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis on the second team. Junior linebacker Jon Bostic and sophomores defensive tackle Dominique Easley and all-purpose player Trey Burton received third team nominations.

The Gators were also chosen to finish third in the Southeastern Conference‘s East Division (with 12 first-place votes – South Carolina received 114).

Last week, the conference’s coaches picked six Florida players for their Preseason All-SEC Teams. Senior running back Jeff Demps (second team), redshirt sophomore LB Jelani Jenkins (third team) and redshirt sophomore specialist Andre Debose joined Sturgis, Bostic and Burton, who were voted into identical spots.

FOUR BITS: Zook on Muschamp; Black; Wambach

1 » As a defensive-minded coach with no former head coaching experience, new Florida Gators boss Will Muschamp has been compared to former Florida and current Illinois head coach Ron Zook on numerous occasions. Florida fans, obviously, hope the comparison ends there as Zook’s tenure with the Gators (while successful from a recruiting standpoint) was filled with underwhelming records (23-14 combined) and early eliminations from the title hunt each year.

Appearing on ESPN 1000’s GameNight out of Chicago, IL on Monday, Zook offered some advice for Muschamp on his new gig. “The thing is you got be yourself,” he said. “Don’t try to be anybody else. It’s one of those jobs all you can do is the best you can do. You can’t get tied up with all the other stuff. Believe me, there’s a lot of noise in the system down as there is at a lot of places. He’ll do fine. There’s a great state base there, and he’s a good football coach. There’s no doubt they’ll do fine.”

2 » With the NFL lockout nearing its conclusion, former Gators safety Ahmad Black is excited to finally play professional football for his favorite team growing up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Selected by Tampa Bay with the No. 151 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the 2011 Outback Bowl Most Valuable Player has his sights set on a starting job but hopes to contribute in any way he can.

“I want to try to get a starting spot, but if not, then a significant role on the team,” he told the Pewter Report. “I really just can’t wait to get in there and do my thing.” In the meantime, he has been staying in shape and making sure he is ready to go when the season starts. “I’ve been pretty much training four or five times a week,” Black said. “I’ve been doing a lot of outside stuff, going to the beach and trying to relax a little bit. I know that once we start it is going to be crazy.”

3 » Returning to her hometown of Rochester, NY with locals chanting her name, former Florida striker and U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach celebrated as the city honored her with “Abby Wambach Day.” As a member of the Women’s Professional Soccer league’s magicJack squad, Wambach was in town for her team’s game but did not play even though the league set an attendance record (15,404) due to the appearance of her and other members of Team USA (Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan). “I hope I didn’t disappoint too many people tonight, but my body really needed a rest,” she told the crowd at halftime. “Honestly, I’m humbled [by your support].” Read more about Wambach’s return to Rochester and the reception she received.

4 » For the second time this offseason, Muschamp will travel to Bristol, CT to participate in another Car Wash at ESPN. Consisting of appearing in nearly all of the network’s programming over the course of a given day, the Car Wash often includes spots on First Take, SportsCenter, College Football Live and a variety of ESPN Radio programs. Muschamp, along with five other Southeastern Conference coaches (including Steve Spurrier and Dan Mullen) will be at the Worldwide Leader on Monday, July 25. The rest of the league will participate in the Car Wash on Tuesday.

2011 SEC Media Day: Muschamp exudes intensity

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, redshirt seniors quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and senior defensive end William Green represented the team on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press gatherings at the 2011 Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, AL.

BALL OUT FOR THE 2011 SEASON

As expected, sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball will miss the entire 2011 season after learning of an arteriovenous malformation in his brain that was discovered when he passed out due to a blood clot during the spring. Muschamp confirmed that Ball will not be with the team in a physical sense but does hope that he can return to play in 2012.

“We’re very fortunate our medical staff recognized it; very fortunate to have Shands right there in Gainesville to handle that,” he said. “[I] talked to Neiron [on] Monday, he has been in Colorado at a spiritual development camp. He’s very healthy, doing fine. He will not physically be a part of our football team as we progress here in the fall. We will reevaluate his status as a football player in January and February of next year. The number one priority is that he’s healthy, and that’s the most important thing.”

DEMPS EXPECTED TO RETURN FOR 2011

Putting to rest rumors that recently had senior running back Jeff Demps possibly foregoing his final year of football eligibility to run track professionally, Muschamp confirmed an OGGOA report from over the weekend that Demps plans to be a part of the team for the 2011 season.

“He has been working out with our team, and I expect him to be a part of our football team next fall,” Muschamp said when first asked about the player’s future. “Based on our conversations, he’ll be back. I don’t deal in rumors, and I don’t deal in message boards. I don’t know any good ball coaches that do that.”

One of the reasons Demps’s return has been in question is the fact that he is currently in Italy competing with the U.S. National Team. Muschamp noted that he and Demps have spoken on numerous occasions throughout the course of the summer and are on the same page, though they do need to have a conversation when the player gets back to America about when he will officially rejoin the team.

“When I deal with people, I like to deal eyeball-to-eyeball, talk to them face-to-face,” Muschamp said. “That’s been hard to do with some of the traveling he’s been doing. I ain’t never been to Italy.

“He may run a little bit in August with the U.S. National Team, and we’re going to determine that next week when he and I sit down and talk. You talk about a fine young man; I want him in our locker room. He’s a guy who is very explosive in space, and I’m very excited about him being a part of our football team.”

BRANTLEY’s CONFIDENCE RETURNS

There is no question that Brantley’s confidence was seriously shaken throughout the course of last season. However, on Wednesday, his head coach and classmate both went out of their way to explain that he looks better than ever and is finally stepping up to the plate as the signal caller that the Gators need going forward.

Asked if he stood by his statement in the spring that he had complete confidence in Brantley, Muschamp said, “I feel the same way. Johnny had a really nice spring for us. John’s very capable. Charlie Weis has tremendous confidence in Johnny and that gives me an awful lot of confidence, too.”

Thompson agreed, noting that his quarterback’s entire approach has changed. “He’s got his confidence back. [There is a] big difference. With the offseason training, he’s come in very confident – putting guys in the place they need to be, taking control of the huddle, being vocal. He’s being the quarterback that we need him to be.”

The WR is also pleased with how Weis has been able to help him personally as well as the offense as a whole from a learning perspective. “I don’t think he’s going to add too much more [to the playbook],” Thompson said. “He keeps it simple. He’s giving a lot of different looks – same plays, different looks. He doesn’t make it difficult. He doesn’t want you thinking too much out there, he wants you to go play fast. […] It’s actually easier.”

That is a process that is undoubtedly helping Brantley, too. “[Weis has] made the transition easier. He’s made learning the playbook easier,” he said. “He knows how different players learn. He’s able to teach us the playbook in different ways to help us learn. Come August, he’s going to teach me about reading defenses, watching film.”

WENGER’s PRESENCE BEING FELT

Notre Dame transfer center Dan Wenger has only been working out with and getting to know his teammates for a matter of weeks yet he is already becoming a locker room leader. Deciding to spend his final year of collegiate eligibility reunited with Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci on the Gators, Wenger is more familiar with his former coach’s offense than any other player currently on the team. Because of that, he’s served as a mentor to the younger players still looking to find their groove.

“He fits in really good,” Brantley said of Wenger. “He’s almost like a player-coach because he knows the offense better than anyone else and he’s taken that role on.” Thompson concurred. “Dan came in and he’s been teaching the guys,” Thompson said. “That was a big help. We needed that.”

NOTES & QUOTES

Muschamp on what he is happiest about right now: “The most pleasing thing for me right now has been our work ethic, our workman-like attitude.”

Muschamp on depth issues: “I think we’ve got good enough players to have a good football team this year.”

Muschamp on the most difficult adjustment he has made since becoming a head coach: “As much as anything, it has been time management. Managing being the coach at Florida. The worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you’re not. I’m a football coach. I’m going to coach on the defensive side of the ball; I’m going to coach on special teams. I hired Charlie to run our offense; I got great confidence in what he’s going to do with our offense. I’m really excited about that; he and I are on the same page. The time management of being the head coach and understanding those things that come across your desk throughout the day, handling those [things].”

Muschamp on hiring a top-notch offensive coordinator: “Charlie Weis brings instant credibility to our football program offensively. The track record speaks for itself as far as the development of the quarterback and offenses.”

Muschamp on possibly wearing orange jerseys again: “I don’t know; you’ll have to come to the games. I’m going to meet with our seniors a little bit and get some more input from them when we get back rolling and talk about some of those things. But we won’t get real extravagant with the uniforms. We need to play good; it doesn’t matter what you wear, you need to play good.”

Muschamp on the biggest challenge he has faced: “Team building is so important, having that team camaraderie and the team concept. That’s what we’ve really worked on with the team in the offseason.”

Muschamp on coaching his first “home” game: “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of work before that happens. I’m really excited about August 5, getting our team back together. I love training camp and working, building for the season. We’re going through our installation; we got all the practice schedules done. I’m really pleased with our staff and looking forward to the first game.”

Muschamp on keeping many of former head coach Urban Meyer’s philosophies: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Urban did a phenomenal job; he and his staff did some great things that we’re going to continue to do.”

Muschamp on the differences between recruiting in Florida and Texas: “The competition in recruiting is much more fierce in the state of Florida because of the proximity of programs like you – programs that have big stadiums, programs that have great academic institutions, great support, great resources, outstanding staffs, championship tradition. [The differences are] the competition level and the proximity of all the schools being that close to you. We’re going to recruit the state of Florida first and foremost; we’re going to take care of our own backyard.”

Muschamp on being friends with so many of his rival coaches in the league: “I don’t have any problem with having great respect or liking somebody we’re competing against. I don’t necessarily look at it like a fan would look at it. I look at it from a respect standpoint. I don’t worry about what anybody else does. I worry about the University of Florida.”

Muschamp on meeting with New England head coach Bill Belichick: “Coach Belichick actually came down in the spring, spent some time and watched some spring practice and, a matter of fact, I asked him to speak to our football team and he did and did an outstanding job. What a presence he has in a group.”

Muschamp on an 8-5 record not being acceptable to fans: “They’ve told me.”

Muschamp on being a Georgia guy coaching at UF: “I’m a Florida guy.”

Muschamp on starting out his coaching career as a graduate assistant: “When you just come out of playing, you realize how little you knew as a player.”

Thompson on his personal goals: “If we get to the SEC Championship, all the personal goals will fall into place if we do that.”

Thompson on the team’s motivation: “We lost five games last year, and that’s just motivation for us. We’ve got a lot of young guys that’s hungry and want to be successful. I think we’re going to be very successful if we stick together and get this chemistry going.”

Thompson on the coaching change: “All the guys are pretty much buying in. It’s a close-knit group. Everyone just wants to win. It comes down from the coaches. They’re eager to win and we want to win. I think it is all going to fall in place. […] A lot of the guys are buying in and having great summers right now. Good workouts. Everybody is coming in and doing extra; coach don’t even have to tell us to come in, guys are coming in on their own. That’s what we need.”

Thompson on Meyer coming back and leaving again: “It probably impacted some guys. It shouldn’t have. Urb was a great coach, and we sent him out with a win.”

Thompson on Muschamp during practice: “He’s got so much energy. He be running around, screaming like some of the players.”

Thompson on Weis: “I was very surprised [that he came to Florida’. At first, I thought it was just a rumor, and I thought ‘Ah, he’s in Kansas City, he’s not coming here.’ He’s had success with his offenses wherever he goes. He knows how to pick out the things that work with each guy.”

Thompson on the 2010 season: “It was frustrating at times. We’re used to scoring 40, 50 points a game, and now we’re struggling to get 21, but we hung in there together as a team, and we got through it.”

Brantley comparing Meyer and Muschamp: “Coach Meyer is very intense, great coach. They have a lot of similarities with the intensity and great coaching ability.”

Brantley on how Muschamp’s intensity and discipline have changed the team: “Guys aren’t getting away with some of the stuff…”

Brantley on Weis’s offense: “It definitely helps me out a lot. I’m not a runner. I don’t like to run. I like to hand it off to a fast guy. I’m all for that. I don’t like to take too many hits.”

Brantley on being lucky to be coached by Weis: “It’s awesome [to have him]. You grow up watching a team like the New England Patriots and see the offense he runs, you just don’t expect to have him as a coach. It’s an honor to play for him. Just in the last six months, I’ve been learning just as much as I can, and I can’t wait for August when we pick back up.”

Green on the lack of preseason hype: “We care about it. I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder. We want to be our best every Saturday and just try to get back to Atlanta.”

Green on the younger defenders: “In the past year, they’ve grown up a lot. The maturity is a lot better. I think they’ll help us tremendously this year.”

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

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