DAY FOUR: Steve Rissler learning to be versatile

Offensive lineman Steve Rissler is fighting for a starting position at right guard, but has the task of focusing on learning the center position. Head Coach Urban Meyer's practice schedule has fit his philosophy of thinking quickly on your feet, a fact that is not at all lost on the offensive linemen.

"Well, the first three days it's getting used to the weather. It's our first day out here with pads," Rissler said. "They split the groups up, so we're going every rep. The offensive line is playing every rep. We don't get a break. It's hard, but it's going to get us used to the sun and the heat because it's not going away."

Florida returns five offensive linemen who have at least two starts. Rissler (6-3 310) has amassed three starts and 541 total plays as a Florida lineman in his first two seasons on the squad. He did not redshirt. He has played right tackles and guard, but continues to lengthen his resume.

"I'm in contention for right guard, but coach wants me to learn left, right, and center," he said. "It's good to know center in case something happens to Mike (Degory). If that happens, I'm in. We have other guards, so that's good. He wants me to learn all three positions."

"Playing center is something new," Rissler continued. "You get to touch the ball every down. You've got to get that snap down. That's the key, and I'm getting used to that. I just started playing center last spring, so just getting used to snapping and keep them down and shooting it right to him. I can talk to Mike though, I mean, he's one of my good friends. I can talk to him about anything, especially about center. He's a great center. It's a lot of help having him there."

Rissler and his cohorts along the offensive line worked extensively this summer to become a better unit. They spent many hot summer days working on techniques that will assist them in getting the most of their abilities for the 2005 season.

"Obviously, the big thing about the offensive line is your steps," he stressed. "You've go to come out and work on steps all summer. We came out and worked on plays, duck walked and things like that. Once you get your steps down, most of it comes naturally. The first couple of steps is what you've got to get down, and that's what I've been working on."

One of the players who has worked everyday with Rissler is his former (Sarasota) Riverview High School teammate, Drew Miller. Legendary Rams Coach John Sprague told me last year that Rissler, Miller, and Michigan lineman David Baas were probably the three strongest players that he has coached in his many years at the school.

"I played tackle at Riverview," Rissler recalled. "Drew and I were together in high school. He was more of an Olympic lifter, doing Junior Olympics. I never got into that, but I was a hard worker and we took pride in that at Riverview. Playing for (John) Sprague, you work your butt off."

He hopes that same work ethic will enable him to see a lot of minutes for the Gators this season. Regardless, he'll be ready when his number is called.

"I've got to come out everyday and work, and make sure that I know all of my assignments. I can't afford any mental breakdowns. I just have got to be ready when it's my time."

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