Tyrie Cleveland does not like to dwell on the past. The Florida wide receiver came in to his freshman year with high expectations. Rated as one of the best receivers in his class, many pointed to Cleveland as one of the key freshmen for Jim McElwain and company but things did not go quite to plan. Cleveland did not reach his full potential last season after suffering a hamstring injury early on.
"I was kinda behind," said the sophomore receiver. "As the season went on I started learning it. And this spring, I kinda got it all down pat."
Cleveland ended his first year with 14 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Although not the numbers he wanted, Cleveland is not frustrated. He is relying that his hard work this spring and his patience will benefit him this upcoming season. It also does not hurt that the receiver is going through his first spring playing college football.
"I think I did good," he said about his performance this spring. "Got better at running routes and the little details on the routes and the plays. Lining up fast. So overall I think I did pretty good."
Cleveland's debut in college football has not followed the regular script. While his hamstring injury hampered his development and sidelined him for a bit early on after being suspended for the season opener due to a BB gun incident. The offensive playmaker admits he did not feel confident until after the Tennessee game.
"I started to get more comfortable, and the game started slowing down."
With the game slowing down, Cleveland slowly become more of a factor. Who can forget his 98-yard touchdown against LSU last season that helped the Gators seal the SEC East.
"It was very exciting," he said. "You know, just being able to make that play and put my team ahead, it was great."
Heading into this spring, Cleveland wanted to grasp "all the concepts" of the offense so that he can line up faster on game day because he wants to make sure his second season is not a replica of his first.
"I'm just trying to make a lot of plays. Try to put my team in a position to win. That's about it. No individual goals. Just team goals."
McElwain and several players have stated numerous of times that the offense is ready to shed the negative perception surrounding it. The group has often received a lot of criticism last season and is ready to show doubters they can be a threat.
"We got a chip on our shoulder. Back in the years they had Tebow the offense was explosive," said Cleveland. "We’re trying to get back to that offense, making plays and don’t have to rely on the defense as much.”
In the offseason red-shirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks and the receivers got to work, working on routes and timing.
“Feleipe’s doing great. This year he knows the system better, he’s slowing down, making his reads better and not forcing anything.”
According to Cleveland, the key for the Florida offense to find success is simple.
“As an offense, our speed. Once we get our speed and bring everything together, move the ball, the sky’s the limit.”
Odds and Ends
What has Feleipe done to separate himself this spring?
“Making those plays, making those reads, making those throws. Kyle is doing a great job also. It’s a tight competition.”
“The DBs, they’re doing a good job, press, off coverage. They’re more relying on looking at the hips now instead of playing ball.”
How is Duke Dawson doing at corner?
“He’s going to be straight. Duke is a ballplayer. He’s the type of guy who makes plays. I think he’s going to fit good.”