Five Best Things From Spring Practice

The Florida Gator Football team got the 2007 season off to a reasonably good start with this year's spring practices. Florida came close to answering a number of the most serious questions about this team and did so with only one really significant injury.

The spring was a challenging one considering all the losses from the 2006 National Champs. Florida not only lost a 20-member strong senior class, but four of the best non-seniors on the roster. The biggest issue was on defense where nine starters and some top reserves have moved on. Despite a terrible lack of numbers on that side of the ball significant strides were made towards putting together a competitive unit.

Offensively the Gators had fewer issues with guys right in line waiting for their chance to attack each opening. Based on what I saw this spring, the replacements will be as good as or better than their predecessors.

Today we take a look at the five best things that were accomplished in the last few weeks of work. Tomorrow we'll examine the biggest questions heading into the fall.

Tim Tebow's team ----- While this was not a surprising development it was important that Tim Tebow take control of this team and provide the leadership every team needs. The super talented sophomore has progressed as a passer and might well be Florida's leading rusher this fall. I just love the way he carries himself and he's perfect for this offense.

Offensive playmakers abound ----- The Gators went into the spring looking to replace Dallas Baker and Jemalle Cornelius in the receiver rotation and they more than accomplished that. Jarred Fayson and Louis Murphy will be more than adequate in the receiver rotation and true freshman Aaron Hernandez bring a more traditional dimension to that position. Add those guys to Bubba Caldwell, Percy Harvin and Cornelius Ingram and there is more for Tebow to play with than he needs. Florida will be a much better offensive team next season. The Gators were held below 30 points nine times last year. That won't happen more than three times in '07.

Lawrence Marsh and Jermaine Cunningham ----- Florida lost a ton of talent and experience off the defensive line and while these two can't replace the experience of McDonald, Moss, Cohen and Harris they can certainly replace a lot of the talent. Marsh reminds me of Ed Chester physically but with more of a mean streak. Cunningham isn't all that big but his speed on the corner will be tough to deal with. With Derrick Harvey and Clint McMillan that quartet is a more than adequate front four, but don't be surprised to see Terron Sanders force his way into the mix.

Joe Haden's arrival ----- The best position change of the spring was with a guy who never even practiced at his original spot. Joe Haden hasn't been anointed a starter by the coaches, so I'll do it. He has the feet, quickness and physical nature to excel at corner. He has as much ability as Dee Webb and Avery Atkins.

Kyle Jackson returns ----- When he was a freshman Jackson was a guy I kept asking about because he was the Gators' best safety in the pre-season. When he finally played, he was excellent. However the last two years have not been good and the Jacksonville native has been relegated to special teams for the most part. Florida needs a free safety to try and do at least some of the things Reggie Nelson did.

There were other positive signs including the early spring play of Kestahn Moore, progress from Cameron Newton and the replacement linebackers. But to me, these five top the list.

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