Quarterback: Everything we’ve seen in the practice sessions open to the media makes it look like Will Grier is in the lead in the battle for the starting quarterback job over Treon Harris. Grier opened camp by taking reps with the first team and took a majority of the first-team reps in the open sessions during the first three days. While it’s possible that production could change when the media isn’t allowed at practice, it’s hard to believe it would be that drastic.
Grier simply looks like the better quarterback. He gets the ball out faster and has been much more decisive. Harris has especially struggled with throws to the sideline from what we have been able to see. His throws seem to float to the sideline while Grier’s have much more zip on them. There has not been a day of practice that has been open to the media where Harris looked better to Grier.
There are still moments where Grier shows his youth. He’ll throw a pass behind an intended receiver or have a communication issue with a receiver during routes on air. Those instances occur much less frequently than they did in the spring, however.
Running back: It’s hard to tell much at this position simply because we’ve only seen one day of practice with the team in full pads. The one thing you can see in shorts and helmets is the burst a player has, and that’s where freshman Jordan Scarlett jumps off the page. When he changes direction with a cut, he’s back up to full speed almost immediately. When you can’t judge how tough a player runs because they haven’t done much live in the running game when the media is watching, that’s the main thing that has stuck out so far.
It’s easy to overrate things at the beginning of fall after not seeing the team since the spring, but Kelvin Taylor does look to be in great shape. We’ll have to see what happens when things go live. He still needs the extra step that has held him back from being a complete back.
With Adam Lane gone, it looks like Jordan Cronkrite will have to play. The good news for Florida is that he looks capable of it. Cronkrite looks especially comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield and could help in a role like that this fall.
Wide receiver: Unsurprisingly, Demarcus Robinson is the best receiver on the team. Brandon Powell’s involvement has been something I’ve watched closely. He’s lining up exclusively in the slot, but the Gators have him running different routes. A lot of it has been close to the line of scrimmage, routes that allow him to catch the ball and make defenders miss. They’re still using him down the field some, and he showed late last season that he has good hands. Powell has also motioned into the backfield and taken reps at running back.
Outside of that duo, the best receiver I’ve seen is C.J. Worton. That’s good news for a Florida offense desperate for playmakers at the position, but the bad news is he suffered a leg injury at practice on Monday that McElwain didn’t know the severity of. Worton did tweet that he left the hospital with good news, but he has been all over the field at practice and looks like an important part of the Florida offense.
The talk of players has been about freshmen Antonio Callaway. He looks solid in portions open to the media, showing quick feet, solid hands and advanced route running, but he hasn’t had the big moment in portions of practice open to the media just yet.
Tight end: This position looks like it’ll be all about Jake McGee, and the sixth-year senior looks like he’s back to pre-injury form. McGee was an important part of the offense last year before breaking his leg in the season opener. McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier both have lengthy histories of involving the tight end in their offenses, and this year should be no different. McGee looks like he’ll be an important target for a young quarterback.
Behind him, there are questions. However, the young players all look physically capable of handling an increased role if needed. DeAndre Goolsby and C’yontai Lewis look stronger and are athletic enough to make plays down the field. Moral Stephens has the size to be an attached blocker if the Gators need a second tight end this fall.
Offensive line: Another position that’s difficult to evaluate with only one session in full pads, the offensive line has been all about development so far as the Gators search for bodies they can trust. The first team offensive line has been mostly the same -- left tackle Mason Halter, left guard Trip Thurman, center Cam Dillard, right guard Antonio Riles and right tackle David Sharpe.
Sharpe is massive. He’s listed at 355 pounds and looks every part of it. The sophomore still moves well for that size and has looked ready to handle a starting role this fall. The Gators have no choice to depend on him, and he looks ready to handle it.
Center and right guard are the positions I’m watching closely. Dillard got most of the reps at center in the spring and has opened camp as the starter. But there are a lot of players talking up how impressive Tyler Jordan looks as the second team center. Dillard played in just four games last season after redshirting in 2013. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Jordan could push to be heavily involved at center at some point during this season.
Along with Jordan, Martez Ivey is the other freshman getting all the praise. He’s the former five-star recruit, a high school All-American that likely would’ve been involved this year if the Gators were loaded with quality linemen. Now that they aren’t, it’s even more of a guarantee. Florida will have to count on Ivey, and from what we were able to see in the first week, he has the build and technique to handle it.
At right guard, Riles has struggled at times during the portions of practice open to the media. The question is who would take over for him. Travaris Dorsey took a lot of first-team reps at guard during the spring but suffered a leg injury at practice on Monday. If Dorsey’s injury is serious and Riles isn’t able to handle it, it might be a freshman that would have to get involved.