Florida head coach Jim McElwain is in Destin for SEC Meetings and met with the media for about 20 minutes Tuesday. He talked about a variety of topics including Antonio Callaway’s absence from the team, injuries to Martez Ivey, Alex Anzalone, and Brandon Powell facilities upgrades, and more.
The biggest topic of the summer this year is what is going on with receiver Antonio Callaway, who as a freshman was likely the brightest star of the offense. McElwain was asked about his status and whether or not he was in the first summer semester of school in Gainesville and he obliged with an answer.
“Same deal,” McElwain said about the status of Callaway not being with the team at this time.
As for the school part, he said that the sophomore-to-be is not taking classes.
“No (not in Summer A),” he said before talking about communication between he and the star receiver. “It’s being handled.”
Some things are just out of the hands of the people talking here.
The news seems much better on the injury front. Senior linebacker Alex Anzalone and sophomore offensive lineman Martez Ivey missed all or part of the spring due to shoulder injuries and surgeries. Junior receiver Brandon Powell missed the spring due to a foot injury as well. All three are believed to be back on the road to a full recovery for the fall.
“They’ve been cleared to do everything right now, obviously there’s no contact,” McElwain said when asked about Ivey and Anzalone. “It will be no different than what we do with Antonio, but we still have to test it before we throw them out there on Saturday. Brandon too, he has a new set of shoes and we threw every pair of shoes out of his locker, he’s required to wear them. He’s been cleared too.”
McElwain excited about new facilities on the way…
Facilities or the lack there of, have been a huge issue for a while now at Florida and is something that McElwain hit the ground running with the week he was hired back in December of 2014. The caliber of program that Florida is deserves to be on par with the elite programs in the country. That just hasn’t been the case in the last several years.
Behind closed doors McElwain was all over this when he arrived and then he has gone public with it, mainly because it has been brought up by recruits and others in the news, kind of forcing his hand.
The administration has gotten behind him and they set out to develop a plan that would be an all-encompassing one that would also make it easier to maintain and develop over time.
McElwain says that things are on schedule now to just about get to work on the development of better facilities.
“There is a master plan that is being looked into and I haven’t seen the result yet at all, other than I know it’s something our administration is moving forward with and it’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s exciting for the program, exciting for the players, and ultimately exciting for the University.
“When you look at the opportunity to create something that will be sustainable, we’ve done an outstanding job getting the indoor and the academic center that we’ll move into this summer. If you get an opportunity to go see that, it’s got the players best interests in mind.”
Being able to develop the facilities over time is something that is important, instead of just building something totally new and leaving it alone for several years. You have to continually develop the structures and programs to meet the demands of the student athlete.
McElwain was asked if he believes Florida has caught up or will do very soon.
“I don’t know that you ever catch up,” he said. “At the same time, it isn’t about catching up; it’s about creating an environment that will help your guys be successful.”
All around upgrades on offense should help at quarterback…
Florida will enter the second year with McElwain in the same position as year one… with a new quarterback at the helm. It is never easy to win with a new quarterback taking over, but McElwain believes that the position goes as the other units around that position go.
This is where Florida should be in much better shape.
The Gators added a slew of talented receivers to a group that lacked depth of real talent. They have experience at running back now with guys that are as physically talented as we have seen in Gainesville for a while, and the offensive line has a bit more experience and talent than a year ago.
All of this should help breaking in what should be the starter in redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio.
“It’s hard,” McElwain said of having a new quarterback. “It has more to do with the supporting cast around that person and we were pretty fortunate at Alabama to have Greg (McElroy) but he had been around for a while and the same with A.J. (McCarron) when he was a starter that year. I don’t know if it has that much to do with that particular position as it does with the other 10 guys on offense and the other guys on defense to help that guy be successful.”
McElwain says the line play is of particular importance.
“Ultimately whether offense or defense, it begins up front. If you have a veteran offensive line it can help depending on the kind of system. Some guys up front that have been through it that can help with some of the declarations and protections that can ease a guy into it obviously helps. That is in the system we’re in, some of the others, maybe it isn’t that important.”