Notebook: Freshman receivers developing

The Florida coaching staff realized their need for more playmakers at the wide receiver position and signed five in the 2013 recruiting class to remedy it. At this point in the season, three of them have been on the field but only Ahmad Fulwood has made contributions to the Florida passing game. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease is excited about the future of the position.

The most consistent contribution has come from Ahmad Fulwood. The freshman enrolled at Florida during the summer and made plays immediately in fall camp, catching the eye of the coaches. Through 10 games this year, Fulwood is fifth on the team with 11 catches for 92 yards.

"Ahmad has come on, put himself in the rotation and done a good job," Brent Pease said. "From what I see from him he's finally catching up to the speed of the game and gotten more consistent catching."

Demarcus Robinson was supposed to be the player that changed the Florida offense this season. He received rave reviews for his performance in fall camp after participating in only half of the spring practices with an ankle injury. Robinson turned heads in three open practices during the fall, showcasing his ability to stretch the field.

Robinson has a lot to learn

Once the season started, it didn't translate to the games. Robinson was then suspended for the Tennessee game and hasn't earned the trust of the coaching staff. He still struggles to run the correct route, causing an interception when Florida played at Missouri. Robinson is eighth on the team with five catches for 23 yards.

"Demarcus is inconsistent," Pease said. "It's just a situation where he's got to continue to improve and get comfortable and understand what he's being taught fundamentally."

Chris Thompson was the least heralded of the five freshman receivers when the group signed, but he has created a role on special teams. He also got in with the offense against Vanderbilt and made two catches for 13 yards in the second half. He's listed at 6-0, 167 pounds and needs to bulk up, but there's no doubting the speed of the Gainesville High School product.

"He's not on the field as much but what he's doing in practice and how he's playing the game now is good," Pease said. "He's improved, and it's hard to kind of replace (Solomon Patton) in there at times, but happy with what Chris is doing. He's catching the ball well. He's running well, playing fast and you can see some explosiveness."

Pease didn't have as clear opinions on Alvin Bailey and Marqui Hawkins since they're usually working with the scout team offense to prepare the Florida defense for that week's opponent.

"Their consistency and speed of the game has got to improve because obviously they're going to be in a situation to be competing and playing here sooner than they realize," Pease said of Bailey and Hawkins.

Latroy Pittman hasn't lived up to the expectations after a dynamic spring in 2012. His speed made him a vertical threat in the passing game, showcased in the spring game that year. He made two catches last season as a freshman and has only one catch for eight yards this season.

"I think he's got a higher ceiling. I don't think he's reached it by any means," Pease said. "I think he's got a long ways to go with consistency and being able to play. He's starting to play the game faster. I think he's just playing with more confidence, so it's a matter of getting him in in those situations."

TAYLOR CATCHING ON: Kelvin Taylor has improved weekly and continues to get more comfortable at blocking and learning the Florida offense. He showcased that in Columbia with 96 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

"I think Kelvin's improved tremendously," Pease said. "I think he's really come on with the game experience. I think when you go back and look at the film, there's still spots where you say 'here's what you need to do, here's what you need to understand more.' He's getting indoctrinated as a freshman and that's hard. But he's a kid that's willing to do it, and I think he's done a good job with it. He'll get better and better. I want to see him in his third or fourth year, he's going to probably be outstanding."

There's an interesting battle that should get started in spring practice. Taylor has carried the Florida offense and has looked like the best running back on the roster this season. He's averaging 4.7 yards per carry, higher than Mack Brown (3.7) and Matt Jones (4.3).

However, the battle for the starting running back job will continue into the spring when Jones' knee is healthy. Pease was asked about the time at running back this season if Jones had remained healthy.

"If Matt was here, if Kelvin was continuing to improve, (Taylor) gives you a good complement," Pease said. "When you run downhill and you're in a physical run-game, you need more than one guy."

SILBERMAN COMING ON: The coaches have put Ian Silberman on the field this year, mostly out of desperation to begin with, but Pease has been impressed with how Silberman has played this fall.

He has seen most of his snaps at guard, but when the Gators go with a jumbo set, Silberman can also slide out to tight end and serve as an extra blocker.

"I think he's played a lot better, and we've used him," Pease said. "He's gotten a lot better in practice, pass-wise. He's an athletic kid that can run, so I'm happy with what he is doing. Continue to be more consistent."


Fightin Gators Top Stories