Purifoy adjusting to complex role

Loucheiz Purifoy hasn't always been excited about his role for 2013. When he was approached with the idea of moving to the offense to get more comfortable at receiver, he wasn't so sure. That's no longer the case. Even going up against Florida's deep secondary hasn't changed his mind. The junior will play all over the field during the fall, but there's no debate which side he prefers.

"At first, I didn't want to play it," Loucheiz Purifoy said on Tuesday. "I really didn't want to play it. I'm kind of getting back into the groove of it now, and it's kind of fun."

When he's able to sit back and look at his practice time and the potential role available to him this fall, that's when the feelings of excitement come about the role. Even during practice, he's not sure about that. He recalled big hits he took from sophomore Brian Poole on Monday -- one that turned him into a dreaded violator after fumbling the ball -- as reasons for his lack of excitement.

The idea of the fall is what makes his push through it. He'll be everywhere when the Gators open the 2013 season. Purifoy is slated to play on every special teams unit except for punt return in addition to his time at receiver and cornerback.

"He needs to be in really, really good shape," Will Muschamp said with a grin.

And that's what Purifoy is working toward this spring. After becoming a staple of the Florida secondary in the past two years and ending last season fourth on the team in tackles and leading the group with three forced fumbles, Purifoy could've said no to the move and stuck in his comfort zone.

He could've rested on the numbers that he posted on the defensive side of the ball last season and become comfortable with the idea that he would again anchor one of the best secondaries in the country.

In the end, he didn't want that.

"It's the competition," he said.

That's what drove the growth of his role and what pushes him on the practice field. There have been rough times through the first four practices. He feels like a target of the secondary -- and the secondary members admit to targeting him -- after his position switch in the offseason.

"They see me on offense, so of course they're going to head hunt me," Purifoy said with a laugh.

The progress at receiver has been noticeable to his teammates, even with as frustrating as it can be for Purifoy. In the open practices last week, it was no secret that the junior was one of the best playmakers on the offense when he got the ball. As reluctant as he used to be about the move, that's why it makes sense for both sides.

He's already creating problems for one of the best secondaries in the country.

"He's doing pretty good," Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins said. "He's still adjusting how to get off the press and stuff but he's doing pretty good. He's able to make plays on the scramble passes. When Jeff or Tyler scramble around, he knows how to find a way to get open."

Purifoy made big plays on defense last year

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was sitting by himself in the film room watching tape a few days ago when the door cracked open. It was Purifoy, trying to see what the junior quarterback was doing. The casual conversation soon turned into 20 minutes of talking about the film and what both could improve on to make the Florida offense take the next step.

That's what his teammates are seeing the spring. Even though the first seven days of spring practice are being used to ease him into the life of a receiver, he's getting more comfortable and starting to get better by the day.

"We're trying to introduce concepts to him," Muschamp said. "(The goal is) to be able to expand his role midseason. Instead of just sending him over and saying ‘ok, you've got these three plays when you're in the game.' Once you run those three plays in the first quarter, they're kind of on to what's going on. We want to expand what he can do at receiver."

After Saturday's scrimmage, the coaches and Purifoy will meet to talk about his role. They're expecting him to move back to the defensive side of the ball for a majority of his reps after that, but he'll still be playing some on the offensive side. Muschamp did say there was no chance he would be used exclusively as a wide receiver in 2013 since his future at the next level is on the defensive side of the ball.

Purifoy is counting down until that day comes. It's not that he doesn't want to play offense, where he can help the team. He just misses his time at cornerback.

"I go back to my comfort zone," Purifoy said about next week's practices. "I enjoy helping the offense, but the defense is where I belong."

But the junior wants to help Florida now. He has grown into the role, and although he was hesitant at first, Purifoy has accepted his role and is driven to improve. He learned as a freshman that consuming himself with film and studying could earn him a role on the defense, since he started the Gator Bowl win against Ohio State that season, and he's driven to accomplish something similar on the offensive side.

He wants to impact the game in every facet, and he'll be given that chance.

"He has a motor that a lot of people don't have," Watkins said. "He embraces stuff that could potentially look hard to some people. He wants to play special teams. He doesn't want to come out. He wants to play 50 on defense, 50 on offense. That's the thing he likes to do."


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