Injury-plagued Thompson looking to leave Florida

Two years after hauling in two of the top tight ends in the country as part of their 2012 recruiting class, the Florida Gators appear to be headed towards having neither on their roster at the start of the 2014 season.

Reports from Penn State-affiliate websites BlueWhiteIllustrated.com ($) and Lions247.com ($) place oft-injured TE Colin Thompson in State College, Pennsylvania, on Thursday visiting with the Nittany Lions about a potential transfer.

Lions247 further reports that Thompson has been granted his release from Florida, while Blue White Illustrated contends that Central Florida, Montana, Samford, Stanford, Temple and Villanova are all in line for his services.

UPDATE: Florida spokesman Steve McClain confirmed Friday afternoon that the Gators have “granted permission for schools to contact Colin” about a transfer. Furthermore, he stated that the Southeastern Conference “approved a medical exemption for him in May,” information which UF will share with institutions interested in accepting him.

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Florida Gators announce six transfers including TE Taylor, OL Silberman, QB Staver

The Florida Gators on Thursday announced that six players have decided to transfer out of the program, confirming the three freshmen already known to be leaving while adding three additional names – sophomore tight end Kent Taylor, redshirt junior offensive lineman Ian Silberman and freshman quarterback Max Staver.

“These young men felt it was in their best interest to look for an opportunity to play somewhere else,” said Muschamp in a release. “We wish all of them the best of luck.

The No. 1 ranked tight end in the Class of 2012, Taylor was a four-star prospect who was expected to have a major impact as an offensive playmaker for the Gators. Instead, he barely played as a true freshman – catching just two passes including a touchdown in the 2013 Sugar Bowl – and did not step on the field during his sophomore season. Taylor will have three years of eligibility left as he will be able to take a redshirt for 2013.

“I’m gonna miss my friends, my teammates, and gator fans, but you have to do what’s best for u, so thank you for 2 great years gatornation,” he explained in a tweet.

Silberman has started seven games over the last two seasons due to injuries and only has one year of eligibility remaining. Because he is graduating on Saturday, he will be able to transfer to another program and play immediately without sitting for a full season.

“Very blessed to play for this great University for the last four years but it is time for the next chapter. I’ll always be a Gator!” said Silberman via his Twitter account.

A three-star prospect, Staver committed as a big-bodied, strong-armed pro-style quarterback who wanted to play under offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

With Pease being fired and head coach Will Muschamp planning to switch to an up-tempo offense, Staver felt his time was up before it ever began. He will transfer with all four years of eligibility remaining.

“Thank you to everyone for the experience down there and the support. I will miss my teammates, friends, and also the Gator fans. God Bless,” he said via Twitter.

There are more a few more transfers expected in the near future.

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10/29: Pease on offensive line changes, Taylors

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the seventh game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs on Nov. 2.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD TACKLE(S)

The Gators’ much-maligned offensive line is set for a bit of a shake-up on Saturday as it appears all but certain that junior transfer Trenton Brown, a 6-foot-8, 361-pound behemoth, will start at right tackle for Florida. Pease refused to give him that designation on Tuesday but did admit that Brown spent a lot of time working with the first team offensive line during the off week and last few days.

“Yeah, he’s in line to play quite a bit. I don’t know. He’s got to continue through practice and see where he’s at. I don’t think you can just say, ‘Hey, you’re starting’ all of a sudden to a kid. He still has to accountable to his performance in practice,” Pease explained. “He was taking first-team reps last week, he’s taking first-team reps this week, and we’ll go from there. He’s still got to step up to your performance. He’s gotten better, he deserves an opportunity, and he’s going to get that.”

Pease credits Brown having to work against talented sophomore edge rushers Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard for his improvement but noted that much remains to be seen in how he will handle defenders that will attempt to outmaneuver him because it will be impossible for them to knock him down.

“That’s something you’ve got to find out. Knowing what we’ve seen in one-ons and going against our guys, the kid provides a lot more mass. At 360, you’re probably not going to get pushed back quite a bit and bull rushed,” he said. “That kind of limits maybe what other guys can do. So they’re going to use more speed factor to get around you. In doing that, you’ve got to be able to compensate for what they’re going to do. Sometimes it takes out some of their moves.”

A change may also becoming at left tackle as redshirt junior Max Garcia, who has started every game for UF at left guard this season, may move over a spot. That would put both of the Gators’ starting tackles, sophomore D.J. Humphries (left) and redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore (right), on the bench at the opening of Saturday’s contest.

“I think he’s been one of our most consistent guys,” Pease said of Garcia. “It’s tough on all the guys. When you go out to tackle, usually you’re used to being in a smaller area, and now all of the sudden you got an extension from your alignment cleared out to possibly the sidelines to what we call a C-gap. In how you got to set your angle for a pass set, it’s tough on a kid because they don’t get reps at it every single play if they are playing inside at times. So to really change within the game is hard on them.”

If Garcia does start at left tackle, redshirt senior Kyle Koehne would take his place as the starting left guard.

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10/23: Muschamp talks injuries, state of Gators, confidence in staff, running Kelvin Taylor

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke twice on Wednesday, making his scheduled appearance on the Southeastern Conference‘s coaches teleconference before sitting down with the media for the only time during his team’s off week.

INJURY UPDATES

Florida lost another player for the season, Muschamp announced, as freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a non-contact situation during the Missouri game while on the field with the punt block unit. He is the eighth player the Gators have lost for the season, four of which have gone down with ACL injuries. “He’s a guy who was really emerging, special teams-wise. He did a great job on kickoff for us and on special teams, was really playing well,” Muschamp said.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, who played Saturday with an injured shoulder after not practicing most of the week, will be held out of practice all week but “will start throwing again next week [and] should be fine” to start against Georgia.

Similar precautions are being used with redshirt junior LB Ronald Powell (ankle), who missed the Mizzou game and will also be held out of practice this week. Muschamp expects to get him back on the field next week. “I think we’ll get Ronald Powell back next week. He’s been unable to do anything thus far this week. He’s been running but just not ready for the change of direction and taking on blocks. But I think he’ll be fine,” he said.

Additionally, senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) should return next week. Jacobs was injured against LSU when his helmet came off in a pile and he got kicked in the head. Florida pointed out that he returned to the game, but Jacobs did not fly with the Gators to Columbia, MO, and has not practiced since. “I felt like he was going to play last week. I really didn’t know until Thursday practice he was not going to be able to go,” Muschamp noted.

He also could not provide much of an update regarding redshirt junior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder), who is rehabbing from his injury but also currently away from the team with his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl Monday night. “He’s been with his family, which is where he needs to be,” Muschamp said.

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9/30: Muschamp on Easley to NFL, injuries, Hogs

No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and his team’s upcoming home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 5. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

HEADING TO THE NFL

Asked about senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley future and whether he would consider applying for a medical redshirt and playing a fifth season, Muschamp announced that there was no question Easley would be moving on with his career.

“Dominque’s definitely going to go to the NFL,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now is go and prepare himself for April and getting ready for that. He and I talked briefly about it. That’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”

Muschamp said he is not concerned about teams being worried in regards to Easley’s injury history. He thinks what Easley has been able to do on the field will be more than enough to convince teams to draft him.

“He’ll have plenty of interest. He’s going to be a productive guy on the next level. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself in how he plays the game, how he approaches the game. He’ll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him in their organization.”

Muschamp also noted that he has not spoken at length with redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose regarding his future though the two did touch base. Debose would have to apply for a second medical hardship waiver but would likely have it granted considering he did not play a single down in 2013.

INJURY UPDATES

Aside from season-ending injuries, the Gators appear to be relatively healthy heading into their next game. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle), who has missed the last two games, should be back in practice by Tuesday but will definitely see the field by Wednesday at the latest. Muschamp also noted that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) could have played against the Wildcats if needed but was held out as a precaution considering he was a game-time decision.

Redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will remain out for this week, but sophomore TE Kent Taylor (ankle) should be back in uniform for the game. Muschamp had not previously announced Taylor’s injury but noted Monday that he has missed 2-3 weeks of action.

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Florida’s Pease on red zone, receivers, offense

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the third game of the season against the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 21.

MOVING THE BALL, PUTTING UP POINTS

Offense is about two things – possessing the ball for a long period of time and putting points on the scoreboard. The Gators were successful at doing one of those things against Miami but not the other as Florida gained 413 yards of total offense but only found the end zone once two Saturdays ago.

“We’ve moved the ball, and it’s come down to really this last game where, in the red zone, decisions, we turned the ball over. We had two bad decisions and really two bad calls on me. The quarterback sneak when we were down there, that’s on me. I shouldn’t have done it,” Pease said on Tuesday.

UF being a run-first offense intent on owning time of possession in a game and keeping the ball away from the other team has not resulted in high-scoring games for the Gators over the last three years, something that does not appear to bother Pease.

He is more concerned with completing long drives and seeing individual players break out during a game.

“We’re built to hold onto the ball a little bit more. I still think that we try to build explosive plays on what we can do. We stress to our kids, ‘You got to create dynamic situations. If you get the ball in your hands, you have to be that dynamic person.’ We got to take more advantage of our opportunities when we’re touching the ball on our drives because we’re not probably going to create as many drives for ourselves,” he explained.

“Our efficiency is going to be more grinding it a little bit more and create some big plays throwing the football. That’s where I think we got to be more consistent in getting points because we’re probably more designed to go 6-12 plays in a drive rather than 3-4 and hold onto the ball for more than two minutes in a drive.”

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Pease talks Dunbar and Robinson, Gators offense

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday, four days before the 2013 season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.

MAXIMIZING TALENT AT RECEIVER

With junior Quinton Dunbar and freshman Demarcus Robinson both listed as X wide receivers (Dunbar the starter and Robinson as second-string) on the first depth chart of the fall, many began wondering whether Florida would try to get both players on the field at the same time to maximize the talent at the position and give junior quarterback Jeff Driskel as many weapons as possible.

Both Pease and head coach Will Muschamp said previously that they want to bring Robinson along slow, ensuring he knows the X receiver spot perfectly before trying to move him around the field, which would mean Dunbar lining up elsewhere while Robinson has his helmet on. Pease on Tuesday addressed whether that is something that will likely happen during games.

“There will be situations like that. One thing with Quinton, you know, he’s a kid that’s been in it. Actually Quinton last year was a Z and we moved him to the X,” Pease said. “He knows the Z and will be inside for us sometimes. He’s a guy with experience. He’s learned the spots. … He’s a kid we can move around now.”

Robinson, despite being supremely talented, does not have the in-game experience just yet. Nevertheless, Pease noted this week that he is ahead of schedule for a player his age and should be an important contributor for the Gators this season.

“Oh yeah. Yeah, that guy is really developed for a young kid. Physically, he’s developed. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got great hands,” Pease said. “You always want to see consistency, how you’re going to perform … and understand your routine and develop your trade and your professionalism, how you’re going to approach it. … With him, I think he’s getting to that point. He’s comfortable with things. He’s playing on his instincts. Now, let’s see you do it in the game because that’s what it’s going to come down to. …

“Is the kid going to make mistakes? Yes, because he’s a freshman. Does he have the ability to be fun to watch? Absolutely. Is he fun to be around and coach? Absolutely.”

PLAYER THOUGHTS AND EVALUATIONS

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8/5: Muschamp on injuries, standouts, tight ends

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media after his team’s first weekend of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

ILLNESS / INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore running back Matt Jones, who is now over his serious viral infection and recovering but did lose 8-10 pounds while ill, may be able to get reactivated at some point next week if he continues to make progress. “Matt Jones is in the building and moving around a little bit and hopefully, maybe try to see maybe next week if we can try and get him active,” Muschamp said. “He looks good. He’s moving around a little bit. He was on the bike the other day. We’re just trying to get him back in the swing of things.”

Though junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is still limited from his appendectomy and has not done anything physically as of press time, Muschamp is confident that the prognosis will be positive when Driskel meets with the doctor on Wednesday or Thursday. He also said that redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (pectoral) is “doing very well” and will be evaluated on Friday, and redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (back) will meet with a doctor Tuesday.

Two new injuries are to freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson and redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr. Johnson had a high school knee injury flare up but should return to practice Monday or Tuesday, while Orr sprained his thumb over the weekend but should be in action on Monday.

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