The summer rolls on and we creep inside 90 days till the Gators take the field against San Jose State on August 30th. Another important date is June 30 when the rest of the squad will enroll in Summer B. This means the arrival of some big time freshman. Speaking of youth and expectations, Florida's second opponent, Miami, returns eight projected starters that are either sophomores or freshmen. Frank Gore is a redshirt sophomore and Brock Berlin is just a junior after transferring. The Canes are top 5 in most magazines. You can win with young players in college football now-a- days. Players are more adept at the college game more now than ever, especially with the early graduation and the dedication to learning the game.
Here are some examples of this year's favorites and their best returning players:
Oklahoma: Tommie Harris was a sophomore last season as was outstanding cover corner Antonio Perkins. Defending National Champ Ohio State was in position in large part due to feshman Maurice Clarett and sophomore two-way star Chris Gamble. Both players return with all 11 starters on offense. Auburn is a pre-season favorite because they settled on sophomore Jason Campbell last season and classmates Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. USC returns freshman star Mike Williams at wide receiver, Texas has junior linebacker Derrick Johnson while Pittsburgh's freshman sensation wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The Gators could have as many as eight sophomores and or freshman starting next season. Mike Degory returns at center, Lance Butler or Randy Hand at right tackle, Dallas Baker at wide receiver and whoever wins the job at quarterback. On defense it could be Brian Crum, Demetrice Webb, or Nick Brooks and Eric Wilbur (Punting). Throw in the possibility of Marcus Thomas, Michael Hill, Chad Jackson, Channing Crowder and Andre Caldwell and almost half the team could be underclassman. It makes for a bright future and a difficult '03 to predict. In the preseason Sporting News Magazine, Florida leads the way with top incoming freshman who could make an impact. Players like Chris Leak, Andre Caldwell, Earl Everett, Dee Webb, Joe Cohen, Jarvis Moss, etc. are all considered at or near the top of their position rankings coming into college.
Snippetts and Tidbits
Darrell Lee is having a summer to remember in the weight room and it really makes you wonder how good this line could have been with Ian Scott and Clint Mitchell. With the theme being youth, new linebacker coach Bill Miller is used to having young players at the linebacker spot. We have mentioned Dan Morgan and Nate Webster and he also coached Seth Mitchell who was a freshman with injury problems and will be a sophomore starter and Ron Stanley who last season as a sophomore for Michigan State led the team in tackles.
Speaking of defense, College Football News.com has listed the Gator Unit at #43, which trails Mississippi, BYU and in-state school UCF. Now c'mon they don't play defense at Brigham Young. The same website picks the Outback for UF facing Minnesota in it's early preseason Bowl matchups. It does make for good talk in the summer.
One player who could make a strong push for playing time during fall camp is guard Anthony Guererro, who not only has had a great summer session but is involved with learning all the protection schemes on the line. He may be a better pass protector than Shannon Snell.Shannon's value is pretty evident considering the lack of running game after his injury at Ole Miss.
The NBA draft is next week and Brett Nelson, Matt Bonner and Justin Hamilton are hopeful of being selected. None will go in the first round and with the influx of foreign players and none may go in the second round. Justin has improved his stock since the end of the season and may be the first Gator taken. UF has had five first round picks all-time and three in the second round. The teams who have selected the most Gators with three are the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks. Philadelphia really likes Hamilton's athleticism and defense.\
Around the Nation...If Rick Neuheisel did not break any rules then he should not be fired. The NCAA needs to be more in depth with it's handling of office pools and fess up and say the reason Rick is being treated harshly is because of the amount.
The reorganization of the chain of command continues in Tallahassee and that means a short leash for Athletic Director Dave Hart. His program has improved in facilities but after that it is not a stretch to say the athletics overall are not as good. Look at football for example?
The nightmare continues for Dawg fans with the support Vince Dooley is getting from high paying boosters for not getting his contract extended. I don't like the way Dooley is playing his president and good for Michael Adams. although he is no Saint himself.
Finally, we all no about September 6tj with Miami and Florida but what about around the South - Tennessee and Marshall, Virginia at South Carolina, Auburn at Georgia Tech, LSU at Arizona, Oklahoma at Alabama and oh yes don't forget the one chance at victory for the Commodes Tennessee-Chattanooga at Vandebilt. Now that's a pretty darn good Saturday in September. Man I love the 12 game schedule. Don't you?
From the you may not know this department: Gator Strength Coach Rob Glass was college roomates with new Kansas Basketball Coach Bill Self. Imagine the stories Coach Glass could tell on his college roomie.
Stat of the week: The Gator offense ran 982 plays last season. That was nearly 100 more than their opponents and more plays from scrimmage than anyone in the SEC including Champion Georgia. Imagine what they will due with a solid running game this season.
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