Spring Football: Tackles need to fight

The numbers in 2016 are much better than a year ago when three offensive tackles were able to line up in the spring and practice. But, this group has a long way to go to be anywhere near a strength of the team and this spring can go a long way in pushing the position to that level. We talk about it inside.

Spring practice starts Wednesday and this go-around will be much more contested than the last. One of the units that will be highly competitive is the offensive line. And with the graduation of Mason Halter at least one tackle spot will be up for grabs. This spring should bring competition at both spots.

A year ago only three offensive tackles were even practicing in the spring. This time there are at least five. They should be able to let it loose. Here is what we will be looking at this spring.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

The old guy…

Scout
 Junior David Sharpe (6-6, 355) is the most experienced lineman and has played very well at times. He’s a mammoth man that has played on the left side because he has quick feet for his size. But, we have also seen him struggle at times because maybe the size limits his quickness at the position.

 

I know there has been talk about moving him inside, but numbers wise I don’t think that is really in the cards. Instead, maybe Sharpe can move to the right side if necessary allowing an even quicker tackle to play left.  Nothing is set right now and the open competition in the spring should solidify this idea one way or another by the end of spring drills.

 

Still raw but making moves…

Kan Li / Scout
 Sophomore Fred Johnson (6-6, 305) really hasn’t played a lot of football in his time playing a little over a year of high school ball before enrolling at Florida. Yet, when the seven freshmen showed up last year he was one of the three that saw the field early in the fall.

 

A former basketball player, Johnson has terrific athletic ability that they like. His lack of technique got him in trouble

 

Inside or out…

Kan Li / Scout
 He won’t be here this spring but we need to mention sophomore Martez Ivey (6-5, 307). Ivey will be recovering from a shoulder injury over the spring and not doing contact drills. He should be considered a guard where he played once he got on the field in 2015, but with the better numbers at guard and the competition there this spring, that may allow Ivey to slide back out.

 

Gifted with very quick feet, he is more of a run blocker and has to work a great deal on his pass protection techniques. Ivey is likely the most talented lineman on the roster and in my opinion will provide major competition outside once he returns in the fall.

 

Time to make a move…

Kan Li /. Scout
 Redshirt sophomore Andrew Mike (6-6, 302) was one of offensive line coach Mike Summer’s top guys in 2014 even as a freshman. Although he didn’t see the field he was really close to doing so several times. But, as a redshirt freshman that opportunity never came even with the limited numbers and experience at the position.

 

Mike has all the physical ability to be a good one. He has to learn the tenacity needed at this level to fight in the trenches. In the SEC it is no love fest inside. You have to scrap and bring your lunch pail. WE will be looking to see that from Mike this spring.

 

Kan Li / Scout
 Redshirt sophomore Kavaris Harkless (6-5,300) is a guy that is close to getting lost in the shuffle. Again, the ability is there, but he hasn’t been able to scrape any playing time together just yet.

 

Harkless was a late addition to the 2014 class when Charlie Strong left Louisville to go to Texas and Harkless decided he would rather be at Florida than Louisville at that point. He’s got good size and quickness. We just need to really start seeing it from him in his third year on campus.

 

Time to grow…

Tim Casey / UAA Communications
 Freshman Stone Forsythe (6-7, 309) is most likely going to be behind the eight ball in terms of knowing what to do this spring. Forsythe made great strides as a senior at West Orange High School and really has the look of an SEC lineman already.

With enough bodies ahead of him, the likelihood of redshirting is there, however coming in early for the spring will give him a little bit of a jump start to getting on the field. Look for him to compete hard and see where that gets him and we will pay attention to his growth over the spring. 


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