Friday Final: Florida confident, prepared for UT

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles the team’s confidence entering its third Southeastern Conference game, the emergence of a young offensive lineman and a look at the unofficial depth chart ahead of the contest.

The Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) hit the road for the second time this season when they face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game kicks off at noon and will air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Tennessee, talks injuries and support
Notebook: Kurt Roper keeping Florida offense calm, focused
Story: With support, QB Jeff Driskel focused on improvement not criticism
The Silver Lining: QB Treon Harris not ready for prime time
Notebook: Muschamp, D.J. Durkin looking to fix Gators secondary

GOOD TIMING

According to players on both sides of the ball, Florida’s off week came at an opportune time for the program, just as it was coming off a devastating loss on the road to Alabama. It’s not that the Crimson Tide simply defeated the Gators while hosting them in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but rather that the victory was a dominant one which appeared to show that UF still has a long way to go to truly be competitive this season.

Simply put, not all of Florida’s players saw the gap as that wide.

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8/11: Muschamp updates injuries, backup quarterback, progress after nine practices

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss how the team is progressing in fall training camp. The Gators have completed seven days of practice to this point.

INJURY UPDATES

Though most of the injuries Florida players have suffered early this fall are minor, the list is beginning to lengthen with the Gators now nine practices into training camp.

Sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his knee on Thursday, has not yet returned to practice and spent Monday running in an anti-gravity treadmill. He is expected to return to the field on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose and junior running back Matt Jones, both of whom are returning after suffering season-ending knee injuries in 2013, had swelling in the joint and did not practice Monday. Debose should return on Wednesday, while Jones might be back as early as Tuesday.

Sophomore running back Kelvin Taylor missed practice with a strained hamstring and will be held out until the end of the week, either Thursday or Friday barring an unforeseen setback. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (ankle) did not practice Monday but will be back Tuesday.

Four players including redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman, redshirt freshman defensive ends Bryan Cox, Jr. and Alex McCalister, and freshman defensive back Duke Dawson all suffered shoulder injuries over the weekend but “should be fine” in the next few days.

Additionally, freshman DL Taven Bryan, who had been impressing Muschamp early in training camp, has strep throat and is day-to-day. “I hate that Taven has strep throat, because I thought he was making some progress. This will set him back,” he said.

Already out of action, freshman DL Thomas Holley continues to recover from a sports hernia that occurred in high school. Due to the build up of scar tissue, he will need minor surgery and remain out of action indefinitely until given clearance by doctors.

“They’re going to go in and shave that down, but I don’t know what the time frame is for that. I want to say the surgery is Tuesday,” Muschamp explained. “It’s not a major procedure, it’s more like having a scope done. He had some scar tissue that was built up that was very of discomforting when he ran, so he will be out for some time, but I do not know how much.”

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New Gators football players pick numbers

With the entire football team now enrolled for the Summer B semester, the Florida Gators on Monday released the uniform numbers for all the new players set to suit up for the first time next season.

TRANSFERS –
» 72 – Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, FL), junior offensive lineman
» 83 – Jake McGee (Richmond, VA), redshirt senior tight end

FRESHMEN – SUMMER ENROLLEES
» 2 – Ryan Sousa (Orlando, FL), three-star wide receiver
» 3 – Treon Harris (Miami, FL), four-star quarterback
» 12 – Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL), four-star defensive back
» 14 – C.J. Worton (Homestead, FL), three-star wide receiver
» 23 – J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, FL), four-star cornerback
» 27 – Deiondre Porter (Tampa, FL), three-star cornerback
» 52 – Travaris Dorsey (Jacksonville, FL), three-star offensive lineman
» 54 – Khairi Clark (Hollywood, FL), four-star defensive tackle
» 56 – Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, NY), four-star defensive tackle
» 77 – Andrew Mike (Tucson, AZ), three-star offensive lineman
» 78 – David Sharpe (Jacksonville, FL), four-star offensive lineman
» 80 – C’yontai Lewis (Alabaster, AL), three-star tight end
» 82 – Moral Stephens (Perry, FL), four-star tight end
» 92 – Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, LA), four-star defensive lineman
» 96 – Justus Reed (Clearwater, FL), three-star defensive end

FRESHMEN – SPRING ENROLLEES
» 5 – Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C.), five-star cornerback
» 7 – Will Grier (Davidson, NC), four-star quarterback
» 7 – Duke Dawson (Cross City, FL), four-star cornerback
» 20 – Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, FL), four-star running back
» 30 – DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), three-star tight end
» 53 – Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, FL), three-star offensive lineman
» 71 – Nolan Kelleher (Mount Pleasant, SC), four-star offensive lineman
» 93 – Taven Bryan (Casper, WY), three-star defensive lineman

* Preferred walk-on kickers Brooks Abbott (Jacksonville, FL), a transfer from Virginia Tech, and freshman Jorge Powell (Coral Gables, FL) do not have numbers yet.

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Florida defense solidifying as spring continues

Last Friday, one day before the Florida Gators‘ Saturday scrimmage, head coach Will Muschamp provided a number of updates about his players and discussed some hot topics concerning the team.

REBUILDING THE PASS RUSH

Once Florida lost defensive tackle Dominique Easley to a season-ending injury in 2013, the Gators pass rush suffered. With Easley now headed for the NFL, UF is on its way to ensuring that it will be able to pressure the quarterback this season.

Leading the pack, of course, is junior Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., who led Florida with 10.5 tackles for loss and finished second with 3.5 sacks as a sophomore. “Dante Fowler continues to play extremely well, hard, tough. He’s practicing with a purpose every day. He goes out there every day and really competes,” Muschamp said. “I think we have a special rusher in Dante.”

Junior defensive end Jonathan Bullard, long expected to be Fowler’s bash brother coming off the edge, played well in 2013 but continues to be worked inside at tackle as well in order for the Gators to build depth and get as much top-tier talent on the field as possible. Muschamp likes how Bullard matches up against guards because of his athleticism and is able to play him inside because of how redshirt sophomore Bryan Cox, Jr. has developed as an edge rusher.

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Gators 2014 early enrollees pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers and now that Florida Gators football team is beginning spring practice, it was time for the nine 2014 early enrollees to choose theirs. Below is the list according to the school’s spring roster:

TRANSFERS
» No. 72 – Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, FL), junior offensive lineman

FRESHMEN
» No. 5 – Jalen Tabor (Washington, DC), freshman cornerback
» No. 7 – Duke Dawson (Cross City, FL), freshman defensive back
» No. 7 – Will Grier (Davidson, NC), freshman quarterback
» No. 20 – Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, FL), freshman running back
» No. 30 – DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), freshman tight end
» No. 53 – Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, FL), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 71 – Nolan Kelleher (Mount Pleasant, SC), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 93 – Taven Bryan (Casper, WY), freshman defensive lineman

NUMBER CHANGES
» No. 2 – senior safety Jabari Gorman switched from No. 21.
» No. 8 – redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr switched from No. 44.

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Will Muschamp, coaches discuss Florida Gators 2014 signees, recruiting process

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
2014 Florida signee bios | Gators flip four-star QB Treon Harris from Seminoles, add WR C.J. Worton | Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Florida

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff finished inking its 24-member 2014 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

OPENING STATEMENT

”It’s a great day here at the University of Florida, a lot of hard work put in by our staff. I don’t think people realize the contribution it takes from everybody. It’s a total team effort on campus, professors, our administration, our academic people do a fantastic job. When a young man comes on campus for an official visit, all of the people that have to contribute to make that a special experience, and our people do it the best. Our travel people do an amazing job. All of our pilots, [the media seems] to track pretty well, but they do a phenomenal job. It takes all these moving parts to make things work the right way. So we got a great staff. Our staff did an outstanding job.

“We had a miserable fall, and to have the staff come together – three new coaches in Kurt Roper, Mike Summers and Coleman Hutzler come together and change a little bit, not philosophically, but schematically offensively, adjust some things that we need to do in midstream as far as some of the guys we were recruiting and to put together this class – I’m really proud of that. I don’t know where we ended up as far as any rankings and all. You all know me, I don’t get overly concerned with that.”

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Florida Gators 2014 National Signing Day bios

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
Will Muschamp breaks down Gators recruiting class | Florida flips four-star QB Treon Harris from FSU, adds WR C.J. Worton | Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Gators

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEES (9)

Taven Bryan • Defensive lineman
6’5″ • 257 • Casper, WY
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Unanimously selected as the 2013 Conference Defensive Player of the Year…Named to the All-State First Team on both the defensive line and the offensive line and to the All-Conference First Team on the offensive line as a high school senior…Honored with the 2013 Natrona County Iron Man award…Helped lead Natrona County to a 41-6 record in his final three seasons, including back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013…Chose Florida over Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Washington State and Wyoming…Coached by Steve Harshman.

Duke Dawson • Cornerback
5’10” • 191 • Cross City, FL
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Named to the Florida Class 1A First-Team All-State defense…Helped Dixie County to a 10-1 record during his senior season…Nominated to play in the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl…Finished his high school career with 122 total tackles, 99 solo, and seven interceptions…Made 43 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a junior…Chose Florida over Alabama, Florida State, Iowa and Wisconsin.

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Gators announce nine 2014 early enrollees

The Florida Gators on Monday officially acknowledged the nine early enrollees that are on campus for the spring semester and will participate in practice in March.

Head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper also shared some thoughts about some of the newest players on campus.

“Having nine guys in mid-year, number one, says a lot about these kids academically, being ready to go. But it also says a lot about our administration, our academic people being able to turn these over, guys over quickly and get them in school. So, hats off to them,” said Muschamp.

OnlyGators.com will update this post with the players’ official school bios when Florida adds them to the Gators 2014 roster.

Jalen Tabor • Cornerback
6’1” • 188 lbs. • Washington, DC
Muschamp: “A corner that’s got a lot of length and athleticism on the top, and he can finish some plays.”

Will Grier • Quarterback
6’2″ • 186 lbs. • Davidson, NC
Muschamp: “The ability to learn, athleticism. Obviously you look at accuracy as a thrower, being able to throw the ball into tight spots. He’s shown the ability to do that. We had him in camp multiple times. He showed tremendous leadership ability here while he was on campus, positively affecting guys around him. The athleticism and accuracy, we feel like, is there. That’s why a quarterback is a very difficult position to evaluate. You don’t really know sometimes the level of competition and there are other factors that figure in to how successful they’ll be on the college level or moving from the college level to the National Football League.”

Roper: “You knew Will was real talented and was going to be heavily recruited. I think he has a great mindset. I think he has a great quarterback demeanor, and then I tell you what, he was accurate. He can throw it. He has a fast arm. I look for a guy that when he turns it loose, his arm speed is really consistently fast. He’s got a fast arm, so obviously he’s a talented young man.”

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