Over the last week-and-a-half of Florida Gators spring football practice, a number of players met with the media to discuss their individual play and the team as a whole. Below are some of the stories, notes and quotes that have fallen through the cracks.
BIG EXPECTATIONS FOR HIGH-WORK ETHIC DEFENDERS
With so many starters now off the team due to graduation and the draft and redshirt junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell still recovering from his ACL injuries, Florida head coach Will Muschamp is looking to a trio of young players to be impact players for the Gators defense in 2013.
Sophomores Buck Dante Fowler, Jr. and defensive end Jonathan Bullard both impressed as freshman in 2012, combining for 13 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. Each player appeared in all 13 games and earned a start or two but now must take the next step and potentially become full-time starters for Florida. As far as Muschamp is concerned, both have what it takes to do just that for the Gators.
“Football is really important to both of those guys, I mean extremely important. There are guys that come in and meet extra, they watch extra film, they come up after practice if they don’t feel like they played well and they’re going to go in a meeting room with a coach or myself and say show me what I’m doing,” Muschamp explained.
“Dante walks up to me every single day and says, ‘What can I do to get better?’ It starts, to me from a maturity standpoint, of off the field understanding what it takes to be successful. A lot of guys, when they are a dominant player in high school, come to college and they’ve never had to work hard, never had to watch extra film, never had to do the extra things to be successful.
“That’s what those two guys do. They work extremely hard at being good football players. God has blessed them; they got ability. But you can walk in the weight room and see how they work; you walk on our practice field and see how they work. They’ve got tremendous work ethic away from just having good talent. That’s the difference in those guys. They’re both mature guys from that standpoint because they want to be really good players.”
Fowler, who said Tuesday that he knows there are “a lot of high expectations” and he is “looking forward to living up to them,” is excited for the season to begin. He has heard all about players making their biggest leap heading into their second year and believes he is posied to continue that trend.
“I feel really good getting my freshman year under my belt, getting to play a lot of reps and experience. I feel really good about that. I feel a lot stronger being able to play against the offensive lineman,” he said. “Getting that experience, just knowing the game and stuff like that, being more mature about the game. I feel really good.”
Continue Reading » Florida defense: Quick hitters on Fowler, Bullard, McMillian, Gorman, Maye and Christy