Veterans Show Retention in First Practice

Fall camp opened before the sun came up on Friday morning with the Florida veterans taking the practice field. The younger players practiced at night and learned on the fly. Head coach Will Muschamp was happy with his team's progress from the spring. The returning players showed retention from the spring that pleased the Florida staff while the young players had a predictably average practice.

"Good first day," Will Muschamp said on Friday night. "Not a whole lot different to report from (Thursday's media day). (Veterans) went this morning. With most of the older guys, a lot of really good retention on both sides of the ball. Very pleased with the retention. Obviously, they worked very hard this summer in knowing their assignments and things that they do. I'm very pleased with that."

The late practice with the younger players wasn't as smooth, but it wasn't a disappointment. Muschamp expected some hiccups with his younger group. That's why he splits up the two practice sessions.

"With the younger guys, that was good… good effort," Muschamp said with a sly grin. "It was interesting. We lined up in some defenses that I didn't know we had, but they did a good job. It was good effort, energy and excitement. There was anxiety and all that stuff that you couple into a young guy going out."

The second practice wasn't just freshmen. Muschamp said some older players were also there that had early morning classes since summer classes are still in session. He also put players in the second practice to get more reps.

Jabari Gorman and Valdez Showers both practiced with the younger players because Muschamp didn't want them to sit behind entrenched starters like Matt Elam and Josh Evans to watch those older players lead. He wanted Gorman and Showers to be the leaders for the younger players.

"I wanted Jabari and Valdez to make calls all night. It's not a demotion at all," Muschamp said. "It's about reps and who we need in positions to communicate and do what we need to do. It has nothing to do with rank or depth chart. It's about getting guys out there and getting turns."

POWELL WORKS OUT: An optimistic Ronald Powell hit the practice field with the veterans on Friday morning, but he didn't practice much. Muschamp said the junior ran straight ahead and did "a little bit of changing direction" after tearing his ACL in the spring game.

"He got his knee brace in today and was excited about that," Muschamp said. "He's doing well. There's not a whole lot different to report from yesterday."

FRESHMEN FIGHTING FOR TIME: Florida added a deep recruiting class at the line of scrimmage, but Muschamp won't know until close to the season which of them will get playing time. It isn't just about talent, either.

The challenge for freshmen is learning how to manage time. Since classes are still in session when the Gators start camp, newcomers are learning how to balance their schoolwork with the demands that come with fall camp.

"Playing as a freshman obvious has to do with ability, but it has more than anything to do with maturity," Muschamp said. "Right now, we're still in school and they're still in classes. They're balancing school, learning a playbook and the new terminology at a fast pace, and they've got to balance all the extra curricular going on in their life right now.

"There shouldn't be a lot of it other than school and football. Unfortunately, they try. The mature ones learn how to balance that. The immature ones don't and get frustrated when you get close to the season and don't understand why they aren't playing."

The challenge is learning how to fit all of it together. Time in the playbook will be increased when summer classes end, and players stay in a hotel for a majority of the camp to limit their social interactions. It's all football. Players who can make that work are the ones that become impact players.

"My experience is that the ones that are very mature handle it very well," Muschamp said. "They understand there's a time for football and school and what they need to do to be successful."

OFFENSIVE LINE UP FOR GRABS: The Gators return a majority of their contributors on the offensive line, but Muschamp has said multiple times that there aren't any secured starting jobs going into fall camp.

"We're repping different combinations in those situations, but right now, I would not be able to step out and say, "this is our first group and this is our second group." I do feel like we need to get in pads," Muschamp said. "We do have some carryover from the depth chart in spring, but that'll be totally up for grabs as we start moving through camp here."

Jeremy Brown STATUS: Jeremy Brown didn't play in 2011, and his 2012 season isn't off to a better start. Muschamp said on Friday that the target date is September 1. He broke a bone in his right wrist during offseason workouts. He will meet with a doctor on August 28 and hopes for clearance soon after.

"It was in the offseason workouts," Muschamp said. "I'm not going into what all happened, but it was a freak injury. It was in a workout. It wasn't an altercation or anything like that."


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