SPRING: Day One In-Depth Practice Report

The weather couldn't be better and a crowd of about 300 watched the Florida Gators first football practice for spring 2006. There were some new faces and some new bodies on old faces out there at practice. There were a couple that were expected to be there that weren't.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Gator Country's legendary Spring Practice coverage will be free today so you can see through the hype why everyone comes here for the very best in practice coverage. Unlike the others, we don't brag about it - we deliver! Click here for a free 7 day trial!

We are limited in our view of practice, especially for most of the offense, so there will usually be far more to report on from the defense.

Let's start with the depth charts as they looked when the offense and defense hit the field for the first time.

The first team defense looks fast and aggressive as expected and most of the names out there today were to be expected.

  • Defensive End Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss
  • Defensive Tackle: Joe Cohen and Marcus Thomas (notably missing was Steven Harris who is taking care of some "personal issues")
  • Linebacker: Brandon Siler, Earl Everett and Brian Crum
  • Safety: Kyle Jackson (FS) Reggie Nelson (SS)
  • Corners: Avery Atkins and Reggie Lewis

One change was that Reggie Nelson moved to the strong safety. Personally I think this is a good move as long as Kyle Jackson plays the way he did as a freshman. This move will allow Nelson to get inside and make plays like he is capable of doing. With McDonald out all spring, the end combination of Harvey and Moss will terrorize the offensive tackles who aren't good at covering ground. Cohen is finally listed as a defensive tackle and belongs at that position.

2nd defense

  • DE: Darryl Gresham and Javier Estopinan
  • DT: Branden Daniel and Clint McMillan
  • LB: Darryon Robinson, Ryan Stamper, Eric Sledge
  • S: Dorian Munroe (FS) Tony Joiner (SS)
  • Corners: Tremaine McCollum and Jermaine McCollum,

Great leapin' Reggie Nelson!

With the absence of Demps due to injury and the unexpected probable loss of Kalvin Baker, Robinson and Sledge moved up in the depth chart but definitely have the physiques to compete there, at least for spring. Unfortunately I didn't get a good look at Gresham today and he is one of the guys I will concentrate on Friday. Same with Estopinan. I like the look of Branden Daniel. I believe he will be a player. Sledge impressed me with his eagerness to get after it while forced into a situation he may not be ready for.

1st offense

  • Quarterback: Chris Leak
  • Running Back: DeShawn Wynn (or Markus Manson)
  • Tight End: Tate Casey
  • Full Back: Billy Latsko
  • Wide Receiver: Dallas Baker, Jemalle Cornelius, Mike McIntosh / Kenneth Tookes
  • Offensive Line: Jason Watkins (LT), Jim Tartt (LG), Steve Rissler(C), Ronnie Wilson (RG), Drew Miller (RT)

I though Manson looked really good, but of course they were not in pads today. I have seen where some didn't think McIntosh played well, I thought he fought through some stuff today and made a few plays. He needs to continue doing this and not take days off. Leak was sharp most of the day. Cornelius and Casey played most of the slot positions on the first team.

2nd offense

  • QB: Tim Tebow
  • RB: Chevon Walker
  • TE: Cornelius Ingram
  • FB: Eric Rutledge
  • WR: Nyan Boateng, Bubba Caldwell, David Nelson / Louis Murphy
  • OL: Simon Codrington (LT), Carlton Medder (LG), Eddie Haupt (C), Phil Trautwein (RT)

Tebow was off target for most of his deep throws. He needs to get the timing down with his receiver and that will come. Walker is fast but didn't get to see him much in offensive drills. Caldwell looked really good today and it was great to see him out there running faster than I had imagined. Louis Murphy is tough and maybe a tad faster than I thought. I can't report much on the offensive line.

Coach Mullen looking up drill to run - left to right - Baker, Tebow, and Leak.

Highlights of the day

Bubba Caldwell gets the reward for best surprise of the day. He ran so much better than I anticipated out of him. He looks like he is very close to being ready to play right now. He had a couple of very nice catches that should be on the video we post later tonight.

Leak threw a long bomb to Louis Murphy that was the play of the day. The ball covered 40 plus yards in the air and Murphy beat Tremaine McCollum down the left sideline for a perfectly thrown ball.

Reggie Nelson made two interceptions of Tim Tebow passes in the one on one drills and was the star of the drills. Nelson just seems to have a whole different level of athleticism about him.

In a new punt block drill where the blockers basically go unimpeded to the punter, Chevon Walker was a beast. He must have the best explosion from snap time as anyone as he constantly engulfed the ball from the punters foot.

I guess it's a highlight, but Tebow completed his first pass in 7 on 7 drills. It was about a 14 yard curl and he threw it on time and right on the money. Gator fans are hoping there is much more of that to come down the line.

Without pads, I always like to see a little agitation between offense and defense as they compete on the field. With that in mind Reggie Nelson and Tate Casey just about got into it during 7 on 7. It shows the competitive nature of the two and they are two of the most competitive out there.

Louis Murphy and Tremaine McCollum

Lowlights of the day:

The worst throw of the day came form Leak in 7 on 7 drills when he threw into triple coverage and luckily the defender had stone hands. Personally I could not even tell what receiver he was throwing to.

I don't usually call out a player, but I will this time. Most on here know I usually talk glowingly about Tremaine McCollum. Well today he had a very rough day. Granted, he is playing right in the face of the receiver, but he really got beat a bunch and a lot of times had to resort to holding jerseys to keep up with the receiver. The McCollum twins are second team right now and in my opinion one of the two will be needed for the fall.

What's New…

The above mentioned punt blocking drill was fast and tough on the punters. They didn't snap the ball, but on sound the punt rushers run unimpeded to the point of the kick and try and block it. It was a very fluid drill and the players seemed to enjoy doing it. It also shows the importance that this staff and namely Meyer puts into special teams.

There were three 7 foot ladders placed at the line of scrimmage for 7 on 7 drills. I am assuming it was for the quarterbacks to throw over and around and get used to linemen with their hands up and the large linemen they have as personal protectors.

I mentioned earlier to, but the move of Reggie Nelson to strong safety may be the most significant move of the first day of spring. He is a flat out play maker and needs to get where he can make plays.

The Pits…

The only three players in the pit today were Jon Demps (ACL), but he looked fine. Ray McDonald (two ACL's) he looked good all things considered. And Kestahn Moore who reportedly has a back problem and was just walking around the field all day.

The Pits

Former players in attendance at practice included Jarvis Herring, Dwayne Thomas, Terry Jackson, and Donnie Young. The latter three were all members of the 1996 National Championship Team.

Fightin Gators Top Stories