SPRING: A few minutes with Tony Joiner

Safety is one of the deeper positions for Florida this spring.

With plenty of talent on the field, the Gators have many options to rotate Reggie Nelson, Kyle Jackson, Tony Joiner, or Terrence Holmes into the rotation. Dorian Munroe and John Curtis have also stepped up and into the mix this spring. Gator Country got a chance to chat with Tony Joiner after the scrimmage on Saturday. Tony's having an impressive spring and is a lead candidate for the starting role this fall.

JR: How close is the chemistry with the safeties and the corners right now?

TJ: It's supposed to be tremendous chemistry. Right now, we don't have the chemistry that we need to have, but as time progresses and as we get into the summer, we start to learn each other a lot more. This is the first time this group is playing together this year. So we're trying to get the chemistry together, but we have a long way to go right now.

JR: Yesterday, your name got kind of thrown into the basket for possible linebacker duty. What do you think about that?

TJ: No way. The position I'm at right now is sort of like an outside linebacker, but I'll keep my safety title.

JR: Have you played linebacker in the past?

TJ: In high school I played a little linebacker. I was a lot bigger guy though relative to the other players my age back then. At this level, I'm definitely a true safety.

JR: What kind of things are you working on specifically this spring?

TJ: Goals of mine for the spring is just to come out, learn more about the game, take more coaching, and just play at a faster pace and become a starter.

JR: I noticed Tremaine McCollum got banged up a little again today. Corner is obviously razor thin right now. With your depth at safety, in your opinion, can any of you guys move over to cover if someone goes down?

TJ: We have a couple of guys that are athletic enough, but as far as moving to corner, that's a different world. It takes a lot of training to do that. But I would imagine we possibly have one or two guys that could do that.

JR: What do you feel has been the difference in your game this spring as opposed to last spring? You're off to a great start this year.

TJ: The big difference is the tempo I'm playing at. I'm playing at a lot faster tempo than I was last year. I know my plays a lot more. I'm more confident in what I'm doing. It's allowing me to play faster.

JR: Who do you feel out of the younger guys in the secondary have stood out to you the most?

TJ: Out of the young guys...right now I would say Dorian Munroe or John Curtis. John Curtis has come a long way. From knowing no football, to stepping into a role where he's playing with the starters out there, he's coming along real quick.

The coaches are playing musical chairs with the safeties out there right now. There's a ton of talent available, and they're exploring all possible options. Reggie Nelson is the free safety at this point, and has been playing nickel the majority of the spring. It's a dogfight for the strong safety spot, however. Kyle Jackson has been playing well, but he's been bothered by a nagging back injury. As of now, it looks like the starting role will be a battle with Tony and Kyle, but Dorian Munroe is certainly coming along quickly. Safeties Coach Doc Holliday is having fun out there with all his options.

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