Not Eligible: Chris Leak (Sr)
Yes he needed to get better, but everyone knew he was going to be the starter this spring and into the fall. I think he has gotten much better, and will be a big time player this fall.
Winner: Tim Tebow (Fr)
This guy improved every single day at practice. He came in three weeks ago and was overthrowing everyone and trying to make the perfect throw. He settled down, showed poise, and really did some nice things by the end of spring. Tebow showed some signs of greatness during plays and with leadership ability almost from day one. Physically, there isn't much he can't do at the position.
Not Eligible: None
There was a lot to prove at this position.
Winner: DeShawn Wynn (SR)
He has looked really good this spring. I think he ran hard and looked quick when he needed to. I have seen very little of the stuttering in his running like we saw when he was injured last year. He was the only scholarship back to stay healthy the entire spring.
We basically know what these guys can do. They are proven threats with nothing to prove. Baker and Cornelius both had great springs and Caldwell showed flashes of speed that indicate he'll be back to normal in the fall when he's fully recovered from the broken leg.
Tookes showed he can be a reliable receiver by making catches downfield. He is already an exceptional blocker and he seemed quicker this spring than I can remember. Boateng seems to have an ability to get open deep. He ran mostly out of the slot positions and played more of the H-back role. He struggled running the option plays but showed the ability to run slants and posts. He can make people miss. Murphy and David Nelson were close, but I am sticking to my guns and picking a starting 22. Murphy is tough and in the "open field tackle drill" there is probably not a better player on the squad right now. He had issues with drops early on, but seems faster and definitely more sure of himself than he was just three weeks ago.
Not Eligible: Tate Casey (Jr)
Casey is a very aggressive blocker and he makes up for a lack of bulk by attacking defenders and getting good leverage. He still has issues with dropping the ball but he runs great routes and has good enough speed to get down the field against linebackers and strong safeties.
Winner: Cornelius Ingram (So)
Maybe he should be with the wide receivers but this guy may have had the best spring of anyone on the squad. He is such a mismatch for any type of defensive player that he goes against. He is a real nightmare for defensive coordinators. Against a bigger player he will outrun them and outjump them. Against smaller and faster players, he will outmuscle them for the ball. He has athleticism and an awareness of the ball when it is in the air, which is extraordinary since it was just last year that he was throwing the passes not catching them.
Not Eligible: Steven Rissler (Sr center)
In my mind he as a proven commodity and I expected him to play strong this spring although I thought snapping the ball might prove to be an adventure. He may have had one bad snap all spring against the defense and he held his own just like I thought he would. He is a gamer.
Trautwein is quick and agile. He has gained strength and a punch against defenders. He has a tough match up every day against Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey but he has handled himself well enough that Coach Steve Addazio is happy with his play. Codrington is here pretty much because Jim Tartt got hurt, but when he got his chance he became the second biggest surprise of the spring behind Ingram. He has size and quick feet plus he has a mean streak which the coaches love. Eventually he may move out to tackle but for now, Coach Addazio thinks Codrington is one of his five best linemen and the five best are the ones that will be on the field. Haupt only had one bad day snapping the ball all spring, which is very impressive when you consider he missed all last fall with back surgery. He proved he could hold his own and he'll be ready to go next year when Rissler graduates. Wilson may be the smallest of the offensive linemen but he is a hard hitter and that surprises defenders. He can motor and he also plays with a mean streak on the field, two things that have earned the trust of the coaching staff. Miller made the move outside from his guard spot last year and in my opinion, he was the best lineman during the spring. He toned his body up, looks leaner and he's moving his feet very well. He proved he can dominate in run blocking, too.
HOLLYWOOD BOB'S ALL-SPRING DEFENSIVE TEAM
Not Eligible (Two): Jarvis Moss (Jr), Ray McDonald (Sr)
Moss will be a starter for the first time but if he had played full time last year, he would have made All-SEC. McDonald is rehabbing from knee surgery but he's well ahead of his rehab schedule.
Harvey looks like a real beast and he's starting to show glimpses of the greatness that was expected when he was recruited. He will be great playing opposite Moss if McDonald can't go full speed or is moved inside. Harvey's burst is improving and he has learned to use his talent to be disruptive. I wasn't sold on Gresham a little over a week ago but the way he finished the last four practices I'm convinced he has the ability to be a force. He has trimmed down a bit and comes off the ball better in pass rushing situations. In the last week he has been disruptive in the backfield and in pass coverage where has made several plays on zone blitzes. A late burst at the end of the spring moved Estopinan up on my charts. In the last three practices he has shown the ability to get into the backfield. Whether that's through improved quickness or technique, he has shown signs of being a playmaker.
We all know what Thomas can do and he was a force up until his spring ended because of hernia surgery. Cohen will be a very solid contributor u front and his quickness and strength at the position will be hard for teams to deal with. Harris has the ability and experience but he missed the spring because of personal issues.
Winners: Clint McMillan (JR)
Critics have always said he's too small, too this or too that but McMillan plays through all that. Given the chance to play this spring he has produced. When he isn't going 100 percent the coaches know it because it doesn't happen very often. He is very strong, but his edge is his feet. His shorter arms means he needs to get around blockers with his legs so that the longer-armed offensive linemen don't engulf him.
They are the heart and soul of the defense in my book, tackling machines that control the middle of the field. They sure could use one more guy to help them out.
Winners (Two): Darryon Robinson (Sr), Eric Sledge (Fr)
Robinson is a walkon from Gainesville that transferred in from Division I-AA. He's shown he can play at this level this spring. He'll be a backup at linebacker and a very good special teamer. He's a very hard hitter. Coach Charlie Strong calls Sledge "Hammer." He's gained weight and come on strong at the end of the spring. He came to compete every day in practice.
Not Eligible: None
With both starters gone from 2005, the Gators need two new guys to step up and play at a high level.
Lewis had a very solid spring with two interceptions and numerous breakups in the final two scrimmages. That vaulted him way ahead of where I thought he would be at this stage of the spring. He moved from a primary nickel back last year to the outside corner spot and has made it his baby this spring. Atkins had excused absences the last three practices but before he left, he was turning in a very consistent spring performance. He has great size, speed and plays tenaciously --- just what this staff is looking for at the position.
Not Eligible: Reggie Nelson (Jr)
Gator fans saw him save the day numerous times last year when he ran down receivers and backs from behind. Nelson is in the box this year and playing a lot of nickel back, but the coaches know what he can do.
Curtis was a walkon wide receiver last year but now he's a safety showing that he's got the size, speed and athletic ability to be a playmaker in the secondary. He got a chance when Kyle Jackson got hurt. Jackson's healthy now but Curtis is still there, making plays. Joiner has become the starter at strong safety where he's become an on the field leader, getting on teammates when they're out of position or not giving it 100 percent. Built like a short linebacker, he has some serious speed to play the position. He is a terrific run stopper also. Munroe has shown he can cover and that's huge. He has the speed and decent enough size to play the position.
With all due respect to the specialists, it's hard to gauge just where they are at practice. With all the kickers returning at their respective positions, I don't anticipate much change. I will say that Eric Nappy has shown a strong leg and accuracy on his field goals and his punts.
Other Spring Awards:
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Dallas Baker: He has been the most consistent and quite frankly, just showed the most heart on the field all spring long. He constantly wins one-on-one battles. He emulates Joakim Noah with his chest thumping and he is always helping his offensive mates.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Jarvis Moss: When the Gators turn him loose on opening day, the nation won't know what hit them. This guy is going to be very special. He is so quick and explosive I don't see anyone stopping this guy.
"Hammer": Eric Sledge "Wanky" and "Doo Doo": I'll let you guys try and figure out who these two are.
ALL-WRONG ARENA TEAM
The two lovely girls that you see in one of the video rolls that brought posters for the 2006 National Basketball championship to the practice field --- to be signed by football players.
ALL MEDIA TEAM
Not Eligible: All us old hacks that have been sitting in the corner of practice for at least two springs now.
Winner: Casey, the Gainesville Sun Photographer (Rookie)
She has had to learn a lot about football out there this month, but she has hung with the best of us. Not to mention she is a site for sore eyes having to look at all those other old dogs.
ALL FAN TEAM
Not Eligible: Gator Man and Ed from Gainesville radio fame
If you walked by these guys at practice and never saw them before you would know exactly who they are if you just heard them speak. They have been staples on local Gainesville radio call in shows for probably decades.
All I'll say is Justin Riney out-kicked his coverage on this one.