Offensive Line shuffled for start of camp

The Florida offensive line was one of the big areas of weakness for the Florida Gators in the disastrous 2013 football season. Now the Gators have to deal with the loss of two starters (center Jonotthan Harrison and guard Jon Halapio) and a third regular player (Kyle Koehne) along the line as they prepare for the spring of a new season. Will Muschamp said there will be some moves up front.

When talking about the line, we should talk about the strengths. While on the outside we can discount almost anything as a strength following last year's performance, the Gators do have some nice pieces to work with and they are tinkering with those pieces to make things work to the best of their ability.

Offensive line coach Mike Summers has already told us the importance of the center position. Some would speculate that the Gators best lineman is Max Garcia and that is where the Gators are looking for to lead the line this spring, at least at this time. They also like the look of red-shirt freshman Cam Dillard at the position.

"We're going to look at Max Garcia at center, move him inside," Muschamp told the Florida media on Tuesday. "Cam Dillard's been a guy that's come along."

Numbers are up this spring from past year. And Muschamp says the 10-11 guys that they will start the spring with is the most he has had since he's been at Florida. That is a bonus.

One position that has to get a lot better is at tackle. The Gators were down to their 4th and 5th tackle at the end of last year due to injuries, but the guys that played there early in the year last year weren't very productive. Some were playing through injuries early on, but they have to improve.

Senior Chaz Green, senior Trenton Brown, and junior D.J. Humphries will be working with the first unit at tackle trying to figure out who gets the nod.

For Green, this has to be a season of great expectations. He injured his labrum in August and missed the entire season, one where he was projected to start at right tackle. Muschamp says he is healthy and really wants it bad.

"Chaz Green, great to get him back in the fold," the head coach said. "He will be cleared for everything this spring.

"When something is taken away, sometimes you realize how important it is to you. And I've seen that guy, who's always worked hard, so don't get me wrong what I'm trying to say here, but has picked it up to another level as far as his commitment, his work ethic. I'm out in here last Friday before spring break, and he's in here Friday afternoon, working out and absolutely grinding. I mean, the guy has been a great example for our entire offseason program on how he's handled himself and how he's worked."

Green again appears to be the front runner at the right guard spot.

Humphries enters the spring also after a season where he struggled. He did play injured a lot last year and in a season where he was playing with extensive weight gain for the first time, that may have been a struggle for him. Now, he has had the weight on and has conditioned himself better with the weight. The expectations are much higher for his junior season.

A healthy and strong Humphries is a welcome site

"D.J. Humphries has consistently (kept) his weight over 290 for the first time since he's been here," Muschamp said. "I mean, consistently through the entire offseason going back to January when we reported back to now. A lot of times he was fluctuating but he's been able to maintain that. Athletically, he played only half the season last year."

Brown didn't get much action until about midseason when the injuries started piling up but when he came in, he performed well. The staff seems to want to use his big body, 6-foot-8, 350+ pounds to push people around from a guard spot.

"Trenton Brown will play inside and outside, but a guy who's having a good offseason so far," Muschamp said. "I think in his opportunities that he had last season, played well at times."

If Brown grabs one guard spot in the starting rotation, the other appears to be set for junior Tyler Moore. Moore seemed to be out of position as a tackle last year but at some point the staff had no choice to play him there anyway. He has shown the ability to move people up front, and so now it appears he will be headed to guard. Moore missed the last few games after a scooter accident and injury.

"Tyler Moore has been cleared for everything in the spring; he'll play inside," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that needs to continue to step forward."

Providing depth up front and a little bit of experience is junior Trip Thurman. Muschamp praised Thurman's offseason work ethic.

"Trip Thurman will play both center and guard," he said. "We'll move him around. Trip's had a really good offseason.

"You look across the board there, you see six or seven guys that have played good, quality football for us. I'm excited about that."

Inexperienced depth at this time seems to be a is a mixture of good and the unknown. The Gators added three newcomers in January with freshmen Kavaris Harkless and Nolan Kelleher. They also added junior college transfer Drew Sarvary to the fold. All three are slotted to be inside guys.

Kelleher won't see the field any time soon.

"Nolan Kelleher, coming in, had a little bit of a back issue and at this time has not been cleared for spring," Muschamp said. "I don't know when he will be. We're going to get a second opinion sometime this week on some things. But he has not been cleared."

"Drew Sarvary will play guard. Kelleher would be an inside player if he were able to go at this time, and Harkless will be an inside player as well."

One red-shirt from a year ago that they are excited to see play is Roderick Johnson. Had it not been for an injury a year ago, he would have played as a true freshman. Muschamp said that Johnson will be repping at left tackle.

"Rod Johnson has had a good offseason, moves around well, feet, all the stuff you look for," the head coach said. "Unfortunately, we had the surgery there to begin camp, which really set him back, especially at that position, to help us out. But athletically, really did some nice things for us."

With 15 days of practice this spring the offensive line has a lot of work to do. Although he wouldn't put out a depth chart, we can gather a lot of information from what we know and what was told and form our own at this time. Here is a look at what should be real close.

Left Tackle: D.J. Humphries (JR); Roderick Johnson (R-FR)

Left Guard: Tyler Moore (JR); Drew Sarvary (JR); Kavaris Harkless (FR)

Center: Max Garcia (SR); Cam Dillard (R-FR); Trip Thurman

Right Guard: Trenton Brown (SR); Trip Thurman; Nolan Kelleher (FR)

Right Tackle: Chaz Green(SR); Trenton Brown (SR)

Trenton Brown

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