VETTEL: Early Evaluation of Spring Drills

After just three days of spring football practice it would be foolish to draw too many conclusions, and I won't do that. But it's not too early to see signs that certain guys are going to make a strong bid for significant playing time in the upcoming season. It's not too soon to see which newcomers have the best chance to contribute. Heck, it's NEVER too soon to speculate on what may happen next with the Gator Football Team.

That said; let's take a look at some of the individuals that are beginning to make a mark in the early stages.

Nyan Boateng ----- The sophomore wide receiver caught three touchdown passes in goal line type work Saturday and is clearly in the mix for a much larger role in the offense. He averaged over 19 yards on four catches last fall and I often wrote that I thought he should be out there more. Look for the total catches to go way up in '06, though the yards per catch is sure to drop.

Ryan Stamper ----- The red shirt freshman from Jacksonville is more than willing to stick his nose in there and compete against the big guys. He's now listed at 6'1" 228 and seems thick enough to hold up physically. With Jon Demps still not 100 percent and "Pig" Baker apparently out of the picture, Stamper is a lock for playing time and can't be ruled out as a candidate to start at the "Sam" spot.

Avery Atkins ----- A Gator receiver told me midway through last year that Atkins, not Dee Webb was the Gators' best cover corner. I completely agree. This kid is bound for stardom.

Doran Munroe ----- Florida has a chance to be great at the safety positions and this kid is going to be a part of it. He's a physical guy who can really run. He'll be on the two-deep opening day.

Simon Codrington ----- As is usually the case with young linemen he sometimes seems to try to block the wrong guy, but this big fella is definitely in the mix. We're seeing him mostly on the inside right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if that changed eventually.

Eric Sledge ----- Similar to Stamper in a lot of ways, Sledge, too is ready to mix it up. Florida is woefully thin at linebacker yet again, so I look for both of these guys to see a lot of playing time.

Tim Tebow ----- How you can be even more hyped as a QB prospect than Chris Leak was is beyond me, but Tebow is. There are times when it looks like he is guessing how hard or how far to throw the ball, unsure of the speed of his receivers and the defenders covering them. Then there is a play on the goal line drill where he drifts right… sees an open receiver at the five… but waits a second, maybe two before spying an open Nyan Boateng. He zips a laser into the gap for a touchdown. That was something to see. Tebow was much better Saturday than he was on Wednesday or Friday. It'll be interesting to see how his game progresses through the next three weeks.

Cornelius Ingram ----- He has so much to learn about getting off the line and such, but he is going to be a real weapon for the Gator offense. Put a linebacker in and he's chasing from behind. Put a DB on him and some receiver is going to be in mismatch heaven. Hopefully they'll design a play or two where he can throw it out of his TE/H-Back position. Right now I know part of him would love to be in Indianapolis, but I'm starting to think he made the right decision.

Kyle Jackson ----- After a disappointing sophomore season Jackson looks like the player I raved about in fall practices backing 2004. Maybe it's Reggie Nelson and Dorian Munroe pushing for playing time. Maybe it's just settling in after a coaching change after his first year. No matter, he looks more confident and aggressive.

Michael McIntosh ----- There is no player on the team who has been around so long, shown so much and yet done so little. Jemalle Cornelius is trying to provide leadership for this gifted third-year soph and I see some progress. McIntosh could be a playmaker in this offense. He could even be a candidate to help at a very thin cornerback position. Either way, it's time for him to make a move by coming out and competing every day. So far, so good but there's a long way to go.

Again, it's just three days. We'll offer a similar assessment after week two.

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