Shoulder Problems Again Plaguing Jim Tartt

When he's healthy, offensive guard Jim Tartt is one of Florida's most dominant offensive linemen but staying healthy has been a problem throughout his two years in Gainesville. Shoulder and ankle problems caused Tartt to redshirt as a true freshman and plagued him last fall as well. It's the shoulder that appears to have flared up a bit this spring.

"Jim Tartt had another shoulder ding," said Coach Urban Meyer following Wednesday's practice. "He had an MRI. I'm going to find out the results in about 15 minutes. He might have to have a little scope but he should be fine in the fall and maybe he can finish the spring."

Tartt has been part of an offensive line that has been the surprise of spring practice for the Gators. They have shown continuous improvement and it has been obvious at every practice that they are starting to bond as a unit. They've drawn plenty of praise from the offensive line coaches and from Meyer, who thinks this is a unit that could be very good in the fall.

"I see the offensive line coming on," said Meyer, who admitted in the same breath that he's not quite as optimistic about the situation at tailback. While the offensive linemen have remained reasonably healthy with the exception of Tartt, whose chronic shoulder is always a concern, the tailback position has been plagued by injury. Markus Manson was able to practice full contact Wednesday after missing a few practices with a concussion but true freshman Chevon Walker continues to limp on a sore ankle. DeShawn Wynn has had some outstanding moments but it's obvious that the coaches are hesitant to turn him loose due to his history of injuries.

On the offensive line, redshirt freshman Ronnie Wilson continues to impress Meyer along with junior tackle Drew Miller and senior center Steve Rissler.

Rissler, who has gotten some starts at guard, was Mike Degory's backup at center last year. Now that Degory is graduated, it's Rissler's time to step it up in the middle of the line.

"I think that's what happens when you're behind a Mike Degory, who's an excellent player and a great young man," said Meyer. "Steve Rissler was kind of in a shell. Now all of a sudden Steve Rissler is being asked to carry the load and he's doing an excellent job with it."

Another impressive young lineman is true freshman Maurice Hurt. Meyer likes his aggressiveness and how quickly he's picked things up.

"Right now he's a little bit ahead of Carl (Johnson)," said Meyer.

In Tartt's place on the first team offensive line at right guard Wednesday was redshirt freshman Simon Codrington.

HIT OF THE DAY: Senior safety Nick Brooks leveled sophomore wideout Louis Murphy with the hit of the day and probably the best hit of the spring. The entire defensive unit celebrated the loud pop while Murphy was on his knees trying to clear his head.

Murphy had to have the help of two members of the training staff to get to the sideline but he recovered well enough to be one of the leaders in the post-practice sprints.

Brooks hasn't gotten much playing time in his previous four years at UF but Meyer is hoping that he'll get a chance to prove himself in the fall much the same way that Vernell Brown finally got a chance to prove himself as a senior last fall.

"He [Brooks] has been around here a long time," said Meyer. "You hope a guy like him can finish off his career well. I don't know if you can find another Vernell Brown. There's a handful of guys like that that haven't done very much around here. Vernell Brown was very unique. Vernell Brown was the captain and he had never started a game."

Meyer said that there are others like Brooks that haven't done much in their careers. He's hoping that at least one or two of them step it up to close out their Florida football careers by making a strong contribution.

"A great senior year might be that he's the best right tackle on kickoff return in the SEC," said Meyer. "That's a great senior year."

KEEPING IT SIMPLE FOR CI: Meyer said that the coaching staff is keeping it simple for tight end/H-back Cornelius Ingram, who continues to have an outstanding spring. The converted quarterback continues to show that he can make all the catches. Having seen him run last spring and fall in scrimmages, the coaching staff is well aware what can happen once he catches the ball in the secondary. The offensive staff is making certain that CI isn't overwhelmed with too much to pick up in just a short time.

"Right now we're seeing what we can do with him," said Meyer. "We want him to have some success so we're doing what he does well --- run and catch."

All this is brand new for Ingram, who was pretty much a one-man gang when he played quarterback in high school at Hawthorne.

"In high school he played quarterback and they basically said you're bigger and faster, go out there and be better than everybody," said Meyer.

Ingram has responded well to the coaching but since he's only 232 pounds, he's not going to see a lot of time in the traditional tight end position but most of his action will be from the slot or running pass patterns after going in motion. He will, however, see some action from a three-point stance in goal line sets.

CORNERBACK STARTERS LOOK VERY GOOD: Meyer again praised starting cornerbacks Avery Atkins (sophomore) and Reggie Lewis (senior) for their consistent play this spring.

"We have a solid two but we need four," said Meyer. Injuries have curtailed the development of backup corners. The Gators will have to rely heavily on true freshmen Jacques Rickerson (St. Augustine), Markihe Anderson (Ft. Myers) and Wondy Pierre-Louis (Naples) in the fall.

A couple other defenders have caught Meyer's eye. He likes what he's seeing out of defensive end Derrick Harvey and tackle Clint McMillan.

"Clint McMillan is a guy I talk about quite often," said Meyer. "He stole the show a little bit in the weight room in the offseason and it's carried over onto the field."

Walkon Darryon Robinson has played well at a linebacker position thinned out by injuries.

"Darryon Robinson is getting more reps than he ever has because of (Jon) Demps and injuries issues," said Meyer. "I don't know how much linebacker he will play but I'm counting on him to be a good special teams player for us."

RAY MC UPDATE: Defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who had surgery on both knees, was scheduled to begin agility drills Wednesday.

Also, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas will have hernia surgery so his spring practice is over.

Fightin Gators Top Stories