Hunter Wants Young Leaders to Emerge

The Gators don't have many upperclassmen to help lead the team through its recent two-game losing streak. Omar Hunter has been a vocal player on and off the field since coming to Florida, but there's only so much one player can do. Hunter has been encouraged to watch as young players step up and become more vocal through the recent struggles.

"Being an older guy, I've been through this before with last year's team," Omar Hunter said. "The thing this year is that we've got a lot of young guys. You would think that the young guys would lose their cool, but they've been holding together pretty tough. Everyone has let the past two weeks go.

"There are a lot of leaders in that younger group. Dominique Easley is really stepping up. Sharrif Floyd is stepping up as a leader, and Ronald Powell is actually stepping up as a leader."

Hunter said that it didn't take much time for the team to get over the loss to LSU and begin preparing for this Saturday's game at Auburn. Part of the maturity of the younger players has shown through that, but Hunter has preached to the underclassmen about having a clear mind and forgetting about the past they can't control.

Lerentee McCray has said the same thing. Hunter recalled earlier this week as McCray addressed the team and pointed out that six games into the season, nobody is a freshman anymore. The first-year players have seen plenty of action on the field already, and they're already expected to lead.

"We've played those six games so everybody should be grown up and ready to play now," Hunter said.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp has seen shades of the young players getting involved in leadership. His issue comes in maturity. Muschamp said it's tempting for a freshman to be vocal one day and want to be looked at as a leader, but consistently showing up with that mindset is where it gets tough.

"That's all a part of growing up," Hunter said. "Every day you've got to take on your own responsibilities and treat every day the same. You can't have one off day then another good day. You've got to be consistent with it."

Hunter and the other upperclassmen on the team weren't needed to lead early in their careers because of a tight knit group of upperclassmen on the team. Tim Tebow was the vocal leader of the offense while Brandon Spikes took that role for the defense. Hunter doesn't think that hindered the current upperclassmen from learning how to lead.

"We had other great leaders on that team," Hunter said. "I learned a lot from (Brandon) Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham."

Leadership off the field can only go so far. At some point, Hunter knows the team has to improve its play on the field or leadership won't mean much. After getting crushed for a combined 464 yards on the ground against Alabama and LSU, Muschamp has said multiple times that the changes have to come at the line of scrimmage.

For the defensive line, that means making plays. If the linemen can't make tackles, Hunter thinks they at least have to make changes to what they're doing.

"We can hold our double teams better," Hunter said. "Watching myself on film, I know I can hold double teams better. We're doing a pretty good job on contact, but to stop letting the center or the guard roll off and into the second level, we need to do a better job at that."

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