Top five newcomers in open practice

The 2013 recruiting class was expected to add depth to the roster and bring playmakers at multiple positions, but from the looks of Thursday's open practice, the newcomers could force their way on the field quicker than expected. Freshmen and junior college transfers made plays in different areas on the field on Thursday night, making their presence felt with big plays and big hits.

1. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson: The freshman receiver made the highlight of practice. During the one-on-one portion of practice, Robinson beat junior cornerback Marcus Roberson off the line on a fly route. Roberson made up some ground while the ball was in the air, but by the time it got to Robinson 40 yards down the field, it was slightly overthrown by quarterback Jeff Driskel.

No problem for Robinson.

The freshman extended his right hand, catching the ball with it alone and bringing it into his body for the catch downfield. Robinson got open all night and was clearly one of Driskel's favorite targets. He went over freshman defensive back Nick Washington near the end of practice for another big gain down the field. The Gators also threw screens and short passes to him in order to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays.

2. Safety Keanu Neal: Adam Lane might have Neal at the top of his list from Thursday night. The Gators were in a period that wasn't supposed to include tackling, but Neal didn't get the memo. Lane took a handoff up the middle and spun off a defender, only to look up and see Neal. But it was too late. Neal lowered his head and put the 5-7, 222-pound running back on his back.

Neal continued to make plays throughout practice. He worked mostly with the second team defense while also getting some time with the first team. It's pretty clear that Neal will get on the field this year.

3. Safety Marcus Maye: Neal had the highlight moment, but it's Maye that has put together the fall camp at safety that has coaches and players raving. He showed some of his skills on Thursday night. It's easy to see why everyone likes Maye. He has the build to play the Matt Elam role on the Florida defense that lives in the box as a run stuffer.

Maye showed off his athleticism a few times in pass coverage on Thursday, too. It's clear that he is an elite athlete that will be all over the field for the Gators this fall. His presence as the strong safety allows the Gators to piece the secondary together with Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins as hybrid cornerback/safety prospects to go along with an already loaded depth chart at cornerback.

4. Defensive tackle Darious Cummings:He seemed to be the most consistent pass rusher from the inside not named Dominique Easley. Cummings has a quick first step and a powerful punch. Sometimes he gets his feet in the air too much and can be contained, but he just keeps firing and heading to the football over and over again.

If he can play consistently like he did Thursday, he may be able to start next to Easley when the season begins. I am sure that is what he was expecting when he arrived.

5. Offensive tackle Trenton Brown: He has some trouble against the quicker and faster guys, but he also can get to them at times. The 6-8, 360 pound wall of a man was impressive Thursday night. We watched as he repeatedly soaked in defensive linemen that tried to bull rush him and completely stop them in his tracks. Then in run drills, he would drive his defender 4-5 backwards.

Against the likes of a Ronald Powell he needs help because of all the quickness, but even against Dante Fowler who uses his strength and his quickness, if Fowler allowed the mits of #74 Brown to be laid on him, the game was over.

Note: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who has received plenty of praise from teammates and coaches, didn't practice on Thursday because of a minor injury.

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