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We will go by position and start with quarterback. Noticeably absent among the freshmen was Josh Portis. He will work with the veterans in the evening practice so that gave Cornelius Ingram plenty of work which he obviously needs. He undoubtedly is tired right now but probably got the most hands on coaching of his young career today. He was good, just not great. He's got the strong arm and the quick feet, but he's got to learn how to corral all that ability to make it work positively on the playing field.
The three freshmen wide receivers all looked good in their own way. David Nelson is very tall and definitely filled out since we first saw him in San Antonio in January. He is definitely a long strider who picks up speed as he moves down the field. Nyan Boateng has lost the limp from the broken ankle that sidelined him last year. He's got speed and he is indeed a bigtime leaper. Louis Murphy is solid and made a couple of nice grabs. He has height and build to play early. An old teammate of Murphy at St. Petersburg Lakewood is Pat Carter. Carter signed with Georgia Tech out of high school, but he's transferred in to Florida as a walkon. Carter has good size and looks fluid.
The three scholarship offensive linemen present all looked to be in great shape. Eddie Haupt and Ronnie Wilson have transformed their bodies quickly and look like SEC linemen already. I thought Simon Codrington was solid and looked like he must have gained weight from his listed 270.. I would put him closer to 290 and he lined up at left tackle. Of note is he has the same number (78) as Michael Brown.
The defensive linemen in the group were walk-on Lutrell Alford, the Furman transfer who is very stout, and redshirt freshman Branden Daniel. Both are defensive tackles. There isn't much to say about these guys since they weren't in pads and didn't go against the offensive linemen.
A lot of eyes were focused on the freshman linebackers. The three that got most of the attention today were Daryl Gresham at middle, Jon Demps on the strong side, and Ryan Stamper on the weak side linebacker spots. I didn't get to see Kalvin "Pig" Baker much, but maybe it was just the first day. I am not afraid of Demps being too big. He is tall but muscular and doesn't really have a hand on the ground look to him. Gresham is huge but he moved well in space and seemed able to handle his body in traffic also. Coach Charlie Strong was all over Ryan Stamper a few times, but since this is early in the game that is a good sign for him. That tells me they are looking to get him out there. This is a good group but we will have to see when the pads come on how good they are.
All the other eyes were on the secondary today. Reggie Nelson made his grand appearance for the first time in a Gator practice uniform. I have to say I am really impressed with Nelson's feet. He may have the quickest feet on the team. He is also more physical than the others and that may be because he is older and has a couple of years of junior college coaching behind him also. He will get a good look at corner, where he was stationed all day today. Avery Atkins will give Reggie a war and run for his money. Not quite as physical, Atkins' feet are almost as quick and he has good size. They are going to be a fun pair to watch while we can. Eric Sledge showed up much thicker than I remember him looking. If he ads the same amount of weight again, he may be a linebacker before long. For now, I seem him at safety. Dorian Munroe showed skills to play the nickel spot and he has a chance to develop into a quasi corner/safety.
Jonathan Phillips was the lone kicker. He was booming his kickoffs but didn't get a chance to try any extra points or field goals.
All in all, I would say the coaches must be very pleased with the way the new kids looked. I would say I am not disappointed in a single player in the way they have prepared themselves to show up for day one. The grind will get to some along with the heat and humidity. We will have to see how tough the youngsters really are.
SUPERLATIVES: I am going to give my morning practice superlatives to the cornerbacks. I thought both showed a lot of real skills that the staff can work with. Nelson probably stood out more and was noticeably congratulated by Heater on several occasions, but Avery Atkins will be a great player for the Gators some day also if we can go by one practice.
Plays of the day go to Boateng, who made a whirling spin to grab a lofted Ingram pass. He came down hard on the grass, knocking the breath out of him temporarily. The crowd in attendance cheered as Meyer gave him a hard time for losing his breath.
Louis Murphy made a nice grab after turning his head around from looking over his left shoulder to his right shoulder ala the Ben Troupe catch against the Noles in 2003.