After suffering a serious knee injury in the Birmingham Bowl, Morrison didn’t go through any of spring practice but is on the field in fall camp while wearing a knee brace. The senior is going through non-contact drills and has been a vocal leader of the linebacker group at practice.
He’s moving around well despite the brace and even looked good while playing in pass coverage on Monday.
“It’s amazing to me how far along he is to where we probably thought he would be,” Jim McElwain said about Antonio Morrison. “It’s just a credit to how much he invested into this football team once he’s invested personally to come back and help us. He’s in a ton of drills. We try to keep him away from certain angle blocking plays. For right now, just keep testing it, keep testing it.”
The Florida staff thought it would be best to start the fall by letting Morrison practice three days in a row and then taking one day off. They’ve stuck to that plan, not because of any lingering issues with the injury, but simply because they want to make sure the senior eases back into football action.
After he went through all the practices from Thursday to Saturday, it meant Sunday would be his day off. That didn’t go over well when Morrison actually had to sit on the sideline and watch practice. He went with the team’s plan, but it was hard to keep him off the field.
“He was biting at the bit to go,” McElwain said. “It’s hard to hold him back. That just shows you what kind of guy he is.”
DEFENSE STANDING OUT: When the pads went on for the first time on Monday, the dominance of the Florida defense was even clearer. The secondary looked dominant and the defensive line was able to get consistent penetration.
McElwain reminded the media that he was around some dominant defenses in his time at Alabama, but this one at Florida might be just as good.
“We obviously had some pretty decent defenses in one of the places I was at,” McElwain said. “(This year’s Florida defense) compares to that. This is a true, top-flight SEC defense. No doubt about it. The depth in that secondary -- it actually runs three-deep at some positions. Outstanding job at that position having a lot of really good players and players that can play at this level.”
FULWOOD NOT USING HIS SIZE: Ahmad Fulwood spent last fall camp dominating a young Florida secondary. His 6-4, 208-pound frame gave him an advantage down the field and he looked poised to break out as a downfield threat the Gators desperately needed. However, he ended the 2014 season with 199 yards, and 86 of those yards came on a catch-and-run against East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.
The Gators already have receivers that can make catches and break tackles in Brandon Powell and Demarcus Robinson. Having someone with Fulwood’s size down the field would be welcomed, but the junior hasn’t shown it yet.
“One thing I’d like to do is really see him use his size and his speed, really block out a defender, really go get it at its highest point,” McElwain said.
Fulwood still brings a lot of value to the Florida offense. In three-receiver sets, he joins Powell and Robinson as the starting receivers on the field. If one of the two get tired or hurt, Fulwood can step into multiple spots on the field.
“The one thing Ahmad has been able to do is cross-train at a couple of spots,” McElwain said. “When we’re in our red personnel, he’ll play Y. When we’re in blue, he’ll play some Z. When we’re in silver, he’ll play some X. To me, his value becomes his ability to plug into a lot of different spots.”