Preparing the freshmen receivers

The wide receiver position in Gainesville has taken heat since the start of the 2010 season. It hasn't been close to where the Gators need it to be. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease expects some of the experienced receivers to step up this season, but to build for the future, the Gators signed five wide receivers in the 2013 class. They're now pushing for playing time in fall camp.

The early part of fall camp is about introducing the freshmen to the Florida offense. They've had their playbook, studied the offense and watched plenty of film on it, but until the freshmen get on the practice field, how much they know doesn't mean much.

Brent Pease even mentioned on Wednesday that sophomore Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman haven't emerged in fall camp because they haven't had the reps that some of the freshmen have received. The five freshmen -- Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fulwood, Marqui Hawkins, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson -- are already showing their talent in camp.

"The freshmen are very talented kids," Pease said. "Now it's the knowledge of just learning their plays consistently and understanding what all the calls are is where the mistakes come from. But as far as running and catching and their abilities, they are a very, very talented group."

Robinson turned heads in the spring

Veteran players have complimented different freshmen receivers for their play early in camp. Safety Valdez Showers said Bailey creates mismatches in the slot. Trey Burton said Ahmad Fulwood's 6-5 frame makes him a target down the field. Receiver Quinton Dunbar complimented both and followed by saying Robinson ‘can be great' in the future.

There's no doubt the freshmen receivers will be on the field, but it's about managing their reps and making sure they're prepared. Even if they show a knowledge of the offense in practice, Pease is always nervous until they prove what they know and can do on the field.

"I think it's more about repetitions," Pease said. "Games throw a whole different perspective into it because they might know their plays, but then you throw in the 90,000 people that are out there with the energy in that stadium, it probably causes a kid that's 18 years old to be a little bit on the nervous side at times.

"Their demeanor has a factor in how they control that. Some kids live for that moment. Some kids say that's what they want, but it might take a year for them to get settled into that. Things are happening very quick."

Alvin Bailey can help in the slot

Each receiver brings his own strengths to the Florida offense. It's a group that was strategically put together by the offensive staff while building the 2013 recruiting class. Fulwood, Hawkins and Robinson are all listed at least 6-1, with Fulwood standing out at 6-5 and 191 pounds. At 5-11 and 182 pounds, Bailey is a perfect fit in the slot for the Florida offense. The 6-0, 167-pound Thompson brings a hometown project that always wanted to play for the Gators.

The key to helping the freshmen make an impact comes in finding a role for each. Florida head coach Will Muschamp said last week he expects the Gators to limit Robinson to playing just one receiver position, putting less on his plate and giving him less to learn before making an immediate impact. It's likely the coaches do that with the other freshmen receivers, too.

"They've all got talent, but at that position, lining up is sometimes hard to do because are you going right or left and motions are involved," Pease said. "As coaches, we've got to control that and give them the opportunity to be successful, which kind of cuts down on what we like to do at times in our philosophy. But they are the ones that are playing, so we've got to put them in successful situations."

The Gators could lean on the freshmen more if Andre Debose misses time. The fifth-year senior tweaked his knee at practice on Tuesday night and is still being evaluated.

Hawkins is built to play early


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