The Florida freshmen won’t get a chance to show the veterans what they can do on the field right away. When the team opens practice on Thursday afternoon, the Gators will practice in two groups. The returning players will practice in the first group before the newcomers will all practice together in the second group later in the afternoon.
The goal is to ease the transition. The true freshmen, outside of receiver Kalif Jackson, have never practiced at Florida and it allows the coaches to have more one-on-one time to work with them and help them understand the expected tempo in practice. It’s also an introduction to the drills Florida will run without an overload of players at each position trying to take their turn.
Before the team hits the practice field, some of the Florida players shared their opinion on which true freshmen have stood out so far in the offseason. Here are their picks.
Florida quarterback Treon Harris:
“(Antonio Callaway) is ready. He’s college ready, as college ready as me. He’s big, he’s about 206, he’s tall, physical, runs great routes and has great hands. I’m just ready to see what he can bring to the table.”
Florida quarterback Will Grier:
“I think Callaway did a really good job over the summer at receiver. He had a few vets that were really able to help him. When he got put in, he had guys that were all over him telling him what to do and different things like that. We have a few vets at the receiver position that were able to do that. It was easy for some of these running backs, (Jordan) Scarlett and (Jordan) Cronkrite, to kind of jump in and get help from (Kelvin Taylor), Adam Lane, some of these guys that have been here. I'm really excited to see what they can do."
Florida running back Kelvin Taylor:
"Both of (the freshmen running backs) are going to be really good. Scarlett, I think is really fast and strong. And I just feel like they just have to get comfortable with the college adjustments coming in from high school, but once they get comfortable they're both going to be two great backs."
Florida tight end DeAndre Goolsby:
“(Callaway) is definitely a good player. We know how it works. He’s a freshman coming in, we’ll see how when he gets his pads on he looks. He’s good size, good speed so we’ll see what happens come camp. He does a lot of good things, especially for a young guy. Good hands, good speed. He’s going to be a good player.”
Florida defensive lineman Joey Ivie:
“Jabari Zuniga, he came in a pretty big kid. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal player. He’s just got to get into the game and learn all the little things. And CeCe Jefferson looks like he’s going to be another good player. I think a lot of the other guys like Luke (Ancrum) and my brother Andrew (Ivie) and them, they came in doing well. They’ve just got to keep coming along. Football is a process. You’ve got to buy into what the coaches and the strength coaches are selling. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
Florida defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr.:
“On the defensive side of the ball, CeCe Jefferson has been a guy. Obviously he’s been doing good. I’ve seen Rayshad Jackson, he’s been doing good. Really all of them have been doing good. Everybody’s catching on at a different pace.
“Martez (Ivey) has been a guy who I’ve gone against a good amount of times. He’s been doing pretty good. Also, Antonio Callaway. I really think he’s going to be a special player for us. I think he’s going to be a really good player for us in the 2015 season.”
Florida receiver Valdez Showers:
“Callaway’s the receiver we had come in and he’s picking up pretty good so far. Picking up quickly, running good routes and he’s pretty quick.”
Florida coach Jim McElwain was asked about Callaway during his press conference, and this was his answer:
“We've talked in length about the need on both sides to have explosive playmakers. We felt when we recruited him he was one of those anyway, one of the things we felt was the need for explosive playmakers and he's the guy that fit that bill when we were recruiting him.
“It will be interesting to see what those skills are when we get out there. He is a guy that obviously some of the vets have talked about, and that's a credit to what he's done in the short time he's been here.”