Spring Exit Interviews: The Backs

At the end of the spring football session Will Muschamp and staff meet with every football player about their progress from a career standpoint and current progress as it relates to where they are heading. The meeting is to talk about what they need to do to get to the point where they can be the most productive for the program and in some circumstances, whether they expect them to be productive.

We're going to break down the interviews for every offensive and defensive player on the depth chart from what we have heard and seen this spring at Florida.

RUNNING BACKS

Matt Jones: Current starter at the position and expected to hold that spot.

Through January: Worked his way through recovery from injury in high school and seemed to shine late in the season when given the chance to run the ball. Mike Gillislee was a better runner, but Jones may have been a more complete back by late November.

Improvements since January: Strength and size, he bulked up a little bit. He also maintained his speed and worked on flexibility.

Needs to work on: Just continue to learn the offense. The staff gave him a break after one play in the spring finale, but he needs to continue to focus on learning it all. Also get harder. By that I mean work on getting tough yards. At 6-3 and 235 pounds need to run with a little more power.

Expectations for August: Be the man. Know the offense. Work with the young guys as he will need to take a breath or two. Stay focused on running with power and maintain the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Mack Brown: Fighting right now for back up position.

Through January: For two years now we have seen Brown run hard when given the chance. We know his ability is not in question. The issue has always been the things that come along with the position besides running the ball. That means blocking and catching the ball, running the right routes, and all of that stuff.

Improvements since January: A little of everything, emphasis on little. Needs to work on: Just keep going at it in the film room and work with the other backs learning the assignments. Expectations for August: Just get better at all the little things. How much he gets better will determine where and when he gets on the field. Right now he is third on the field and a solid chance to be fourth when the season starts.

Kelvin Taylor: Working to get in the two-deep

Through January: played high school ball until December, joined the squad in January as an All-American prospect with great potential.

Improvements since January: He's already gotten stronger since his arrival and he came in in good shape. Taylor has been swimming with the assignments that don't have to do with running the ball. It makes complete sense since he was such the work horse in high school he didn't have to do much but run the ball. He has gotten better this spring, but needs to be all over the playbook and film room in the off-season.

Needs to work on: He may be the best inside-the-tackles runner on the squad already. He needs to spend almost all of his time on pass protections and passing routes. Knowing his assignments will get him in that two-deep.

Expectations for August: Get that second spot. His running ability gives him a leg up (pardon the pun). If he can get much better in all of the other areas, he will be moving on up.

MARK HERNDON: Who? No really, he's a walk-on that really impressed this spring.

Through January: Scout team. Improvements since January: His improvements probably started last year when he stuck his nose in the play book and film room, even without much of a shot of getting on the field. He really showed he can run hard when asked to do so.

Needs to work on: Just keep on keeping on. He is already the second guy, but he has a hard charger in Taylor pushing fast. Stay active, work hard, keep working on the mental part.

Expectations for August:Just push and make the others work for it. He seems to be given every opportunity, take advantage of it by doing what he has been doing.

FULLBACKS HUNTER JOYER: The starter at the position.

Through January: played at an elite level. An argument could be made he was the best player on the offense as far as doing his job and doing it well.

Improvements since January: Working on catching the ball out of the backfield even more. Just continuous hard work and It is easy to see.

Needs to work on: Maintain.

Expectations for August: Being a team leader. Getting everyone on the same page he is and play at his level when the play is called.

Gideon Ajagbe: Vying for backup role in his junior season.

Through January: Lost on the depth chart on defense, has seen very little time except on special teams.

Improvements since January: May have gotten the jumpstart he needed by changing positions and side of the ball. He really showed an ability to block, to run with the ball, and seems very adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. Maybe he is just an offensive player.

Needs to work on: Get to know that play book. Work hard with Joyer, he can help immensely.

Expectations for August: Nothing was really expected this spring, if he can actually help on offense, that would be a welcome surprise. Just get to know that playbook and make it happen.

Rhaheim Ledbetter: Vying for that back up spot at the position.

Through January: red-shirted and not happy from what we have heard. That may have changed for the better with a chance to get on the field in 2013.

Improvements since January: he too has impressed. Maybe not at the level as Ajagbe, but he is younger and a little smaller. Still, he brings a punch when he makes contact with the defender.

Needs to work on: Learn that play book. He can run and he can hit. He is not afraid to lay it on the line when it comes to blocking, but he needs to work on all of it in a big way.

Expectations for August: Work hard to get in that two-deep. The competition should make he and Ajagbe better.

H-BACK

Trey Burton: versatile player that has played a lot for the Gators

Through January: Always the coaches' favorite. He is a guy that gets the playbook fast and can play so many different positions. Improvements since January: Not much more was necessary. Needs to work on: He too needs to press to be a leader on the offense, maybe more than he is. Expectations for August: be that do-everything guy that the staff wants him to continue to be.


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