Notes on the Florida freshmen

Demarcus Robinson will make an impact this season

The Florida coaching staff expected multiple players from the highly regarded 2013 recruiting class to push for playing time this fall. After the first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday, the Gators are seeing freshmen emerge at multiple positions, starting with Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson, who will provide immediate help to a passing game that desperately needs it.

The development of Demarcus Robinson isn't much of a surprise. He was the talk of spring practice, even after dealing with a sprained ankle throughout his time on the practice field. He made a highlight catch in the spring game, snatching a ball out of the air over All-SEC cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.

Ahmad Fulwood brings a similar ability to the offense. Both receivers will give Florida a luxury it hasn't had in years -- receivers that can make plays on the ball down the field.

"(Fulwood) and Demarcus both have really good ball skills and leaping ability down the field," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "They judge the ball extremely well."

Fulwood started to get positive reviews from coaches and players before fall camp even started. The height is what jumps out immediately. He's listed at 6-5 on the official roster but Muschamp referred to him as 6-4 on Monday. Regardless of which he is, Fulwood has size that the Gators haven't had outside in years.

Robinson made a highlight catch in the spring game

Defensive backs have complimented his deceptive speed. That combined with his leaping ability and ball skills gives the Gators a unique receiver.

"He's a bigger guy," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that has some good upper body strength and is competitive. He handles it well. We're pretty good at the corner position, and he's done a nice job in some situations of creating some separation. He's still in such a learning stage, learning where to line up, reading the coverage, whether it's split safety, whether it's middle field -- those sort of things -- he's got a lot of things going through his mind now.

"You've got to project as a coach. When it all starts to slow down, we're going to have some good things (from Fulwood). That's where a lot of the individual work, as far as one-on-one against our corners and our people, that's where you get a lot of good evaluation. There's not a lot of thinking in those situations. You're just letting your athleticism take over. That's where, as a coach, you've got to project a little bit. We've been pleased with his progress."

The freshman running backs are turning heads on the field, too. Kelvin Taylor highlighted Saturday's scrimmage with a 20+-yard touchdown run, highlighting his cutting ability and vision.

Taylor had a touchdown run on Saturday

"Kelvin's played well," Muschamp said. "He really has. He did some nice things in the scrimmage Saturday. We've got to continue to preach ball security. He put it on the ground last night, and that's something we can't have happen. We're very pleased with his progress. He's very quick in his lower body, gets it north and south and he runs the way we want it to be run at Florida."

Taylor came to Florida with all the hype. He had the gaudy high school stats and is the son of former Florida running back Fred Taylor, but he's not the only freshman turning heads in camp.

Adam Lane enrolled this summer and has an intriguing 5-7, 222-pound frame. He's listed as the second heaviest running back on the roster, only four pounds behind Matt Jones, who is seven inches taller. Lane has the frame to hide behind the offensive line, but he's especially tough to tackle with his build.

"Adam's done some nice things," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that's really a tough guy to tackle. There's not a lot of soft spots on him. You've got to bend your lower body to tackle him. He moves the pile well. He's got really good vision. I'm very pleased with his production so far."

Lane is a load to tackle

The issue for the freshmen will be the same as they always are for a first-year running back. They have to protect the ball and learn how to pick up blitzes. Technique or strength isn't an issue for the two freshmen, they just need to better understand blitz concepts and who to pick up.

"When they know who to block, they've blocked well," Muschamp said. "That's been a little bit of the issue at times. As far as the protections, it's something we work on every day against our linebackers. We do a one-on-one period as far as picking up pressures. As far as their fundamentals picking it up, very good. Assignment of picking it up needs to improve."

ANSWERS AT SAFETY: Marcus Maye wasn't a member of the 2013 recruiting class, but after taking a redshirt last year because of a knee injury, the redshirt freshman is all over the field this fall. At 6-0, 200 pounds, Maye is the perfect fit for strong safety and will play in the box to stop the run a lot this fall.

"I think Marcus Maye is having a good camp," Muschamp said. "He's really come on and done some nice things for us. We've been very pleased with his progress. We're playing him at safety and when we go to six DBs at the dime. He's a guy that's been very productive and playing athletically and communication and doing a nice job."

Maye's redshirt year benefited him

Cody Riggs is expected to start at the other safety position, but the Gators will play in plenty of nickel and dime sets after Muschamp estimated being in those sets 70-80 percent of the time last season. True freshmen Marcell Harris and Keanu Neal have received praise at safety from Muschamp, noting on Monday that Neal is "a young guy coming along and playing well, doing a nice job for us."

FRESHMAN DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Muschamp's theory on true freshman is simple. The closer your position is to the ball before it's snapped, the tougher it's going to be to make an immediate impact at the position. Under that line of thinking, it doesn't get much more difficult than defensive tackle.

Bostwick will play early

The Gators had three true freshman defensive tackles in the 2013 class in Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and Antonio Riles. All three enrolled during the summer and are pushing to get on the field this fall.

"The young players coming in are all going to be good players," Muschamp said. "Those guys have shown some very good progress, and I'm very pleased with all three. How quickly they're going to translate to playing on Saturday afternoon, they need to makes some strides here."

Riles is built to add weight

Scout.com Recommended Stories


Forums


83,948 Fans online

    Tweets