Spring Football: Guards and Centers

What a difference a year makes.  A year ago at this time, the Gators were busy trying to figure out where their six scholarship players available for spring practice were going to line up in five spots. Now, when talking about the two guard positions, Florida has at least six bodies that can fight for the two spots… a much better position to be in.

While there is nothing set, we have an idea or two about

Guards

Leader of the pack…

Kan Li / Scout
 Sophomore Tyler Jordan (6-4, 292) to me is the only definite starter up front that we know of at the guard position.  The only way I could see this change is if he gets moved to center because other guards really step up this fall.

Jordan likely would have played a lot more and earlier in 2015 had they not double trained him at center. He has the size, the quickness, the smarts, and maybe the most important, the nastiness that they like in their linemen for SEC play. Jordan played in all 14 games a year albeit most of them on special teams only. At the end of the year he was starting and playing almost every down.

 

The old guy…

Kan Li / Scout
 He’s a redshirt junior now and Antonio Riles (6-4, 322) has shown a bit of his versatility when they asked him to play some defense late in the year when injuries popped up. He performed well against FAU in that capacity and I believe that shows to his aggressive behavior. 

He started a few games early in the year and seemed to be doing alright, but was passed up by Martez Ivey at guard and didn’t see the field much after Ivey got on the field. I think Riles has to be the favorite here to start at guard opposite Jordan in the spring and we will see where the spring takes us.

 

Back in the saddle…

Scout
 It took a good while for Travaris Dorsey (6-2, 318) to get back in the swing of things after recovering from injury that saw him miss some of spring and all of fall drills. The recovery lasted into the season and he never really got a chance to get into it much.

That said, he was one of the favorites to start before the injury and now he is healthy and looking to make a difference. List at 6-foot-2, it appears he has grown an inch and has plenty of girth. Dorsey has always been known as an earth mover or bulldozer up front.  He will certainly add some punch to the mix this go around and has a chance to get one of those starting spots up front.

 

Piling it on…

UAA Communications
 Redshirt freshman Nick Buchanan (6-2, 285) was a big get in the 2015 recruiting class that included seven linemen. Buchanan however showed up in the 266 pound range and has steadily been adding weight and muscle to his frame. Listed at 285 he is just about there, but we will see where he is listed when official weights come out this week.

Either way, our reports on Fightin’ Gators have told you that Buchanan has been one of the guys that have really progressed and big things are expected. Yet another reason why this may be the most competitive position on the roster this spring and into the fall.

 

The silent assassin…

UAA Communications
 You really don’t hear much about redshirt freshman Richerd Desir-Jones (6-4, 290), but that isn’t to say he won’t be a factor. We have come to learn that he definitely will and is yet another piece of the puzzle at guard in terms of depth this spring and possibility to earn a spot in the two-deep.

We’ll see more of Desir-Jones this spring than we have before, but nothing we have heard leading up to this point tells us he won’t be a part of the competition at the two spots.

 

The heavy hitter…

UAA Communications
 Okay, so maybe the weight has been an issue so far for redshirt freshman Brandon Sandifer (6-3, 357). But, we have heard some really positive things about the big man and how he is dealing with the issue. The guys on the other side of the line don’t like going against the big man because he is a load and now he is bringing an attitude with that load.

Sandifer will have to drop a few pounds and it will be interesting to see what his weight is listed at when the official roster changes come out next week, but the news we here is very positive for this young man who has four years of football left to play in Gainesville.

 

Should I stay or should I go…

Kan Li / Scout
 Normally sophomore Martez Ivey (6-5, 302) would be listed first here, but given all of the numbers above, the numbers at tackle, and the fact he will miss the spring recovering from a shoulder injury, I truly believe he will move to tackle.

Ivey and Jordan would be all but locks to stat at guard if not for the reasons listed above and I think Ivey has the real mentality of a road grading interior lineman. That said, his athleticism should make him one of the key components on the outside when fall practice starts and he is healthy enough to participate.

 

Centers

Mr. Reliable…

Kan Li / Scout
 Redshirt junior Cam Dillard (6-4, 308) is the odds on favorite to return as the starting center. Dillard actually lost his job late in the year when he got injured and Trip Thurman stepped into the position and did well. That, and Tyler Jordan stepped in at guard and id a nice job kept Dillard off the field at the end of the year.

Still, he was very good at snapping the ball during the year and was never really an issue up front. They would like a little more out of him in terms of movement, but if he can make the right line calls and snap the ball well as he has, he should remain the starter.

 

New kid on the block…

UAA Communications
 The latest addition to the 2015 class, redshirt freshman T.J. McCoy (6-1, 302) transferred in from NC State after last spring, so this will be his first spring on campus. The only thing McCoy lacks is height and he can get away with that at center.  A technician, he has the mental capacity for the job.

The other thing he possesses is a nasty attitude when in the trenches. It is something you really can’t teach but he brings it with him and makes life difficult for his opposition when he lines up.

 

Just in case…

As we mentioned before, Tyler Jordan (6-4, 292) is likely starter at guard.  He would probably get a true shot at the starting center spot if the guard competition really takes off and they determine three from that group should actually man both guards and the center spot. 


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