Early enrollees learning through spring

Every once in a while, Florida head coach Will Muschamp has to remind himself that eight players on the practice field should be high school seniors. They're learning at a slower pace than the returning players, but that isn't a surprise to Muschamp. The most important part is that they are on campus and going through spring practice. Their play will be more consistent when they get comfortable.

"You've got to be realistic where these guys are," Will Muschamp said Tuesday. "That's what I always try to keep in mind as we move forward."

That doesn't mean the Florida staff will back off trying to help the early enrollees, but it does keep the coaching staff more realistic with expectations of what to expect from the group. They're not used to anything that's happening during spring practice. The tempo and speed of practice is new and the schemes are more complex.

The coaches will continue to teach the early enrollees and wait for them to get comfortable on the field.

"You continue to install," Muschamp said. "You continue to push forward because they need to understand that there's a certain learning curve that they've got to go with and they've never been asked to do this before, as far as playing the game at a faster pace, playing the game at a faster tempo and learning the game at a faster pace and a faster tempo.

"That's what's been really different for all of them. I'm very pleased with all eight guys."

The Gators got some bad news over the weekend that freshman linebacker Alex Anzalone injured the labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the remainder of spring. He injured it during a "freak" play in a tackling drill and is expected back in time for fall camp. Muschamp noted that it's usually a four-month recovery.

Anzalone will miss the rest of the spring

He now joins fellow early enrollee linebacker Matt Rolin on the sideline for spring practice. Rolin tore his ACL during his senior season of high school and continues to rehab it.

Even though they won't be on the practice field this spring, there are still positive to the two being on campus, especially at a position of need. The Gators will need some of the freshmen to contribute in the fall because of a thin depth chart, and Muschamp is hopeful this spring can still help them take a step forward when healthy.

"They're in the meetings. They're seeing the tempo, they're hearing the terminology, they're watching the film, they're getting coached," Muschamp said. "Mental repetition is something I talk about all the time. You can get mental reps when you're standing on the side. More than anything, they see the tempo. You can talk to them all about it before they get here, but until they get here and they realize how quickly they've got to think, react, gauge, continue to install and see the volume of things that happen. It's very difficult unless they've truly been through it."

The coaches can only tell so much from the first few days of practice without pads on, but since the Gators have gone through two practices with pads, the running backs are starting to show their ability. Kelvin Taylor is stating the spring behind Matt Jones and Mack Brown on the depth chart, but the freshman is still showing his ability.

Taylor is impressing early

He showcased his quick cutting ability during the two open practices last week and continues to stand out to the coaches because of it.

"Kelvin's done some nice things," Muschamp said. "He has made some really nice cuts in the run game. Very pleased with his progress. He's a guy that can stick his foot in the ground, he can get north-south. He's got some physicality. The game's got to slow down for him a little bit right now. There's a lot going on. In the individual drills, when he doesn't have as much thinking to do, you can see the athleticism."

INJURY REPORT: Besides Anzalone, defensive end Jonathan Bullard tweaked his hamstring and will likely be out until March 25. Safety Cody Riggs tweaked his hamstring on Monday and is day-to-day.

"Cody is a guy that can give you a lot of positions," Muschamp said. "He can play safety. He can play nickel. He can play corner. He is a really good special teams player for us."

Offensive guard Jon Halapio is limited this spring as he recovers from knee surgery. He isn't participating in 11-on-11 drills, but he started doing some individual drills on Monday.


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