Demarcus Robinson has looked every part of a No. 1 receiver in the Southeastern Conference during Florida’s open portions of fall practice. After breaking out for 53 catches and 810 yards for seven touchdowns in a bad offense last season, he set the bar even higher for his junior year.
Robinson wants 1,000 yards.
"I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t want that,” Robinson said. “I would say that’s a goal."
The junior would become the first Florida receiver to have 1,000 receiving yards since Taylor Jacobs did it in 2002. Jacobs’ 1,000-yard season was the final one in an eight-year streak with at least one Florida receiver reaching that plateau. Now it seems impossible. Robinson’s 810 receiving yards last season were the most by a Florida players since Aaron Hernandez in 2009.
After the Florida offense stumbled through the last five seasons, the Gators got a fresh start on the offensive side of the ball when Florida hired Jim McElwain. The first-year Gators’ coach spoke during the spring about having a ‘get it to’ list during games of players his offense must get the ball to. There’s no question that Robinson will be at the top of the list when the fall gets underway. The offense is drawing rave reviews from players that think it should fix the offensive issues in Gainesville.
"I love it,” Robinson said. “We have a lot of new plays, a lot of new down-the-field plays. I like the way coach McElwain gets the ball to me. I’m loving that. I can see coach trying to get me the ball more and he’s just creating offensive plays for me."
Working with receivers coach Kerry Dixon has helped the junior prepare for the fall, even though he didn’t have experience coaching receivers before coming to Florida. Robinson said the receivers all see Dixon working hard to make sure they’re getting better and understanding what McElwain and the staff want to do on offense.
"I will say this, he's spending a lot of time with us and putting his time in with us so we can put our time in with him so we can get to know him just as much as he gets to know us,” Robinson said. “It's more of a personal level, so once you get a personal level as a coach, I feel like you can be better as a coach-player type of thing."
The freshman receiving most of the attention at receiver is Antonio Callaway. The Booker T. Washington (FL) High School product has proven to be a good route runner during practices and is smooth out of his breaks. The players all saw what he could do during the player-run practices, and he carried it into the start of the fall.
"Great guy,” Robinson said. “He's just been making some plays. I've excited about him making plays, that's my young guy. My God, he's good. He's quick. He's just really shifty."