Junior College Impact

Several transfers get into mix for starting roles. Also, what freshmen are gettting high praise from the Gator coaches?

Three days into fall practice, several junior college transfers are showing why they were recruited by Florida coach Ron Zook.

While Zook said he doesn't plan on continuing this year's trend, three of his six JuCo recruits are now vying for starting jobs.

"That's not something the University of Florida is going to make a living at," he said. "We felt there was a need for some for some experience and some maturity. But I don't foresee us as being a junior college team."

Tavarus Washington, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound transfer from Mississippi Delta, worked out at first team right tackle Friday. The move could cause several other shifts on the line, including Max Stark's jump to right guard.

If Starks is to play at right guard, it would be his third position in three years. The former Lake Highland Prep standout started every game at left tackle last year, and played opposite Mike Pearson at right tackle the year before.

"I wanted to add a little versatility," Starks said. "It'll make guys step it up at the right guard position."

One of those guys could be (surprise, surprise) another JUCO transfer. Billy Griffin appears to be making a move at guard and center. But should Stark's shift stick, Griffin's chance at a starting role could be slimmed down.

And finally, one more transfer, Reynaldo Hill, has made his mark at cornerback. Hill made the jump from Dodge City Community College, and he now finds himself in a competition with Johnny Lamar for the starting job.

THREE OF A KIND: Zook and offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher could be getting some extra help calling plays this fall. Larry Fedora, who was promoted to perimeter game coordinator before the season, will be adding in his two cents from the press box.

"It will be more of letting (Zaunbrecher) know what the secondary is doing, what the defense is doing, and then he'll make the decision on where to do from here," Fedora said.

Fedora, who is now working with the wide receivers, said he is more comfortable coaching his new unit than he was coaching running backs last year.

Unlike last season, Zaunbrecher will call plays from the sideline this season.

"With young guys I like to be able to look them in the eye," Zaunbrecher said. "The staff has been together for a year, we're all on the same page, so it makes it a lot easier to do this year."

FLIP-FLOP: For the first time since the start of practice, cornerback Keiwan Ratliff made the switch to wide receiver. The senior, expected to play on both sides of the ball, said he would focus primarily on his defensive responsibilities throughout summer camp.

Friday, however, Ratliff ran three routes to maintain his freshness on offense. After completing his first attempt, he missed on each of the next two.

"I basically know the offense," Ratliff said. "Everyday I'm still going to brush up on my receiver skills just to stay in tune with it. I still talk to the wide receivers coach or the offensive coordinator. I might be walking down the hall, and they may give me a quick quiz to see if I know what I'm doing. Basically, I'm just knocking some of the rust off by running a couple of routes."

BACK TO WORK: Freshman punter Eric Wilbur participated in a light workout Friday, his firs practice yet. The former Winter Park standout recently suffered a knee infection, but is expected back to full strength soon.

"I don't want to push him too fast," Zook said. "There's still a little swelling in there."

PASSING ZONE: Zook was been pleased with the split-squad format the Gators used for practice the past three days. As a result, each of the four starting quarterback candidates have picked up plenty of reps.

"My body is trying to catch up with my arm," said Ingle Martin, who has been making more than 60 throws a practice.

As a result of the added work, redshirt freshman Gavin Dickey appears to be pressing less than he did in the fall.

"I definitely feel like I'm past that point," Dickey said. "I wasn't as comfortable in the play book last year and in the spring. I'm able to see the whole field now. I'm able to know what's going to happen before it happens."

WHAT TO CHOOSE?: Amidst the quarterback controversy, Zaunbrecher lightened the mood Friday, comparing the race to something a bit more simple.

"It's like when I go into a bakery and you've got to pick out one thing," he said. "I like doughnuts and I like rolls but I've got one pick out one. It's a positive situation."

LAST CALL: Cornerback Demetrice Webb has impressed coaches so much that he will definitely be in consideration as a starter… Offensive coaches say freshman quarterback Chris Leak is more impressive in person than he is on the films….Coaches were stunned at the physical condition of Chad Jackson and Andre Caldwell. "They understand the game," Fedora said. "They understand pass routes. They understand coverages. They understand what you're trying to do with a route. They understand and they learn."


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