Parks to Hardship; Gators Progressing

Gator head coach Will Muschamp confirmed that tight end Desmond Parks will be seeking a medical hardship and on scholarship but not participate in football, but his Gators are otherwise healthy and progressing nicely after two days in no pads. It is tough implementing new schemes on offense and defense, but his team seems to be taking it all in.

Desmond Parks has been snake bitten with injuries in his two plus years on campus. A knee injury his first spring, Parks has been plagued by a reoccurring wrist injury that evidently has been the reason for his career to be cut short as a Florida Gator.

"He has been put on medical (hardship)," Will Muschamp said of Parks meaning he will still receiver scholarship money, but will not participate in football for the remainder of his time on campus. The hardship is a process that has to be applied for but rarely if ever is denied.

Muschamp says his team is pretty focused and he saw elements of both sides of the ball doing well on Friday, even without pads on.

"It is tough to say after two days, especially with us just in helmets," he said. "I think both the timing in the passing game looked good today and John threw some nice balls. We caught the ball well outside. We seemed to get a hat on a hat protection wise up front. I thought we had some good execution, especially the first group defensively.

"From that stand point there were some positives. There is so much verbiage and learning going on, the kids need to understand we are going to continue to install and they need to learn how to handle that. As coaches we need to know when it is too much."

Senior receiver Deonte Thompson is expected to be a big factor in 2011 and with the new offense there has been some confusion with just where some of the receivers will line up. In the best way possible, Muschamp tried to let the media know that all of his receivers are going to be cross-trained among the several positions and could line up in several different places on the field in one game. Thompson is one that could line up inside or outside depending on the formation and play call.

"It depends on what formation you call," he said. "It could be an outside or a slot (position). It depends on what formation we call. It also depends on who plays the best in slot. If we are in (21) or (12) he will be playing the (X) position (outside). "When we are in (11) personnel he will be playing the (F-11) or (X) position. We cross-train all the receiver positions so that we can get the best 1-2-3 or 4 receivers on the field at the same time."

As a refresher, the number system 11-12-21-22-10 etc. refers to the number of backs as the first number and the number of tight ends in a personnel group as the second number. Therefore 21 personnel will show a formation with two backs and one tight end and two receivers.

Speaking of backs, Muschamp was asked who was standing out as running back and he provided two names.

"Chris Rainey has done a nice job and Trey Burton has," Muschamp said. "After that we need to have some guys to step up."

One name a lot of folks are asking for is redshirt freshman Mack Brown. Citing the lack of contact and full pads, Muschamp is eager to see Brown work when the pads come on.

"I think it is hard in (just) helmets," he said. "We have seen Mack make a nice cuts and stuff, but the two that have stood out to our offensive staff are Chris Rainey and Trey Burton."

The offensive line will have at least four new starters in 2011 and is a spot with little depth and some huge questions moving forward. One of the questions is the fluctuating weight of junior tackle Xavier Nixon. Nixon needs to add some weight and strength, but Muschamp thinks he is on his way to being a productive player for the fall.

"You are either in a position that a guy is in at perfect weight, underweight, or over weight," Muschamp said. "Xavier certainly is not in a place where we want him to be right now, but he is working hard at that and we are proud of his efforts and what he is trying to do… We want him to gain some weight and play tackle."

One bit of good news on the day is the status of often injured Matt Patchan. Patchan has been sidelined since before the start of the 2010 season with a wrist injury and on Friday he was finally cleared to start lifting weights after having two separate surgeries on his wrist.

"Matt has been cleared to exercise but no contact," Muschamp said. "Today he was cleared to lift. He will not have contact this spring. He is lifting and we are going to (ramp) up that so that he can gain his strength back. He is doing all the cardio vascular stuff, change of direction, stamina and all of that, but no contact."

Yet another offensive lineman that has been prematurely written off according to some is back working towards making an impact in 2011. Senior guard James Wilson who has a chronic knee injury is working in practice and they are consciously watching the amount of work he is putting in.

"We are very limited with what we are doing with James right now and the knee condition, but he is (doing reps)," Muschamp said. We will watch his reps and Frank does a nice job of watching his reps in practice to make sure we are not overdoing it."

Muschamp touched on defensive end Chris Martin and how he is progressing through two days of spring evaluation. The redshirt freshman defensive end and transfer from California is expected to make an impact in 2011 getting after the quarterback.

"Chris is a guy that has some pass rush ability," Muschamp said. "He can move his hands and feet in the rush. We are expecting him to grow as a football player and a human being and contribute to our football team. How much? He will determine that and not us."

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