DAY THREE AM: Gators Still Looking For 5th WR

Coach Urban Meyer said at the start of drills that the Gators are looking for a fifth receiver. Several players have gotten an opportunity to impress receivers Coach Billy Gonzales and Meyer through the first three days. Thus far, nobody has stepped up to the first tier.

Most of the passes during the three days have been on short or intermediate routes. There have been very few deep balls to this point. The competition among the defensive backs and receivers has been interesting. Usually at this point, the receivers are well ahead of the defenders, until the team goes full pads. However, as all of us at Gator Country (Bob, Franz, and me) have pointed out, the coverage has been pretty impressive. The receivers are forcing the backs off of them. That's good for everybody involved. Makes for good game time preparation.

While none of these guys has really stood out and separated themselves from the rest of the group, they have looked solid. But, solid isn't going to get you much playing time in this offense.

Also, one other thing that has contributed is the blocking ability of the following receivers. All of them have demonstrated that in the sessions to date.

True freshman Louis Murphy (6-3 190) worked out with the first group today, playing on the second unit. Murphy has been especially impressive since the first practice. He has outstanding speed, moves well through the cuts, and has great hands. The (St. Petersburg) Lakewood High School graduate is also tough. That was one of the first things that I noted upon watching Murphy after he had committed to the Gators. In my opinion, he has been a little bit ahead of the other freshman.

He almost caught a deep ball running down the right sideline during the seven-on-seven drills. Ingram threw the ball downfield out of the reach of Avery Atkins, who had good coverage. However, Murphy got a few fingers on the ball, bobbled it, and lost the handle on it with Atkins on him. Murphy hauled in several slants and other short passes and made good cuts to try and break for additional yardage. He caught a beautiful ball that he almost had to lay out there for on the right sideline. Linebacker Bryan Royal had dropped back and tried to stay with Murph, but was just eatin' up.

John Curtis (6-2 204) has gotten a lot of reps as well. Curtis played two years ago at Rockledge High School. He has been pretty impressive thus far. After watching him in one-on-one drills, it became very obvious that he has good hands. He doesn't appear to have Murphy's speed, but he does most of the other things well.

Curtis made a beautiful catch on a fade to the left side that from Chris Leak that was out of cornerback Vernell Brown's reach. Brown had good coverage on the play, but Leak laid it over the top. Curtis has made several nice catches and really seems to have a pretty good handle on the offense.

The biggest faux pas was delivered by Anthony Scott (5-9 180). He caught a ball down the right sideline and after bringing it into his body had the defensive back slap it out of his hands. The biggest problem --- the slap couldn't have been more than elementary school girl PSI. You know what I mean?

Scott got back to the huddle the hard way. Receivers Coach Billy Gonzales ran down the field some twenty five or thirty yards and after speaking to Scott about his hands, made Scott get back to the huddle doing up and downs.

Scott has caught several nice passes, including a nice grab probably two minutes after making the mistake.

Perhaps the guy with the best opportunity is former quarterback turned specialty guy Gavin Dickey (5-11 205). Dickey reminds me of former Miami Dolphin Jim "Crash" Jensen for the many hats that he is able to wear and the potential that looms with his being on the field with Leak.

Dickey has caught several passes thus far. He has been especially effective in short routes. At times, it is evident that he too is still learning the offense. Dickey spent much of the spring with the national runner-up Florida baseball team, where he started in left field.

There is no question that he has terrific running ability. However, Dickey does possess very good hands. He has been very good in the limited time that he has been at the position.

One player who has demonstrated that he has no problem blocking and handling the short passing game is Kyle Morgan (6-2 225). He has really looked solid. Morgan has very good hands and has looked at times more like a power forward posting up when blocking, as the team has yet to don the pads.

Kenneth Tookes (6-2 209) is one guy who has hoped that when opportunity knocked, he would answer the door. It just hasn't happened for him as of yet. Tookes has demonstrated better hands than I've seen in recent years. He also appears to be very comfortable running the shorter routes. Tookes has run pretty well after the catch, which was another aspect of his game that I wasn't especially impressed with.

Of the veterans, Chad Jackson has been the most impressive overall. He runs so well after the catch. There is no question that he is going to give people fits this fall. Bubba Caldwell and Dallas Baker have also looked very good.

The key for Murphy, Curtis, and Scott is to see how they perform when the full gear is on and defensive backs have the opportunity to lay the wood. Getting off of the line will present a challenge of its' own as well. For now though the challenge is for one of these guys to separate himself from the rest of the competition, and that just hasn't happened yet.


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