FALL CAMP: Maximizing Effort

Maurice Hurt has been working and working hard. And it's through that hard work that the offensive line should continue to be successful following last season's performance.

The 6-2, 327-pound sophomore figures to be a major contributor along the offensive line, particularly with Ronnie Wilson's year-long suspension. And the outlook is very good: there hasn't been a line this deep and experienced in quite some time. But if the Gators' offensive line does struggle this season, it surely won't be for lack of effort.

"We've all been working hard – not just me as an individual, but the whole o-line trying to get better," Hurt said.

Replacing four starters including center Mike Degory, the offensive line was predicted last year to be the weakness of the offense. However, skepticism was quickly put to rest as the group rallied around senior Steve Rissler and became a solid unit. This season, the expectations are quite different as many predict the Gators' o-line to be the strongest in the conference. Hurt said that there's only one difference between last year and now.

"The only difference I would say is that last year, Steve [Rissler] led by himself and everyone else followed," Hurt said. "This year we have [Phil] Trautwein and [Carlton] Medder returning starters along with Drew Miller taking over the center position. They all have grown into leadership roles."

While the tackle and center positions seem pretty concrete, there's still plenty of competition left for the starting guard positions. The influx of freshmen with the Pouncey twins and James Wilson will take its share of playing time. But Hurt, along with veteran guard Jim Tartt, are doing their best to help the newcomers.

"We've been trying to shape the freshman. Being a sophomore, I'm trying to be somewhat of a leader but at the same time learn from the older guys," Hurt said.

Despite the tension of who will and won't be starting, Hurt isn't concerned about his standing on the depth chart. Instead, he sees the competition as a positive.

"I'm just working hard right now. I'm competing with all the guys coming in and the guys who are here with me. Everyone wants the job but it's all in fun. The coaches will make that decision. I'm just here to work hard and prove myself."

With Chris Leak's graduation, Hurt said he welcomes the opportunity to block for another signal caller this year.

"Chris was a great player so it was always great to block for him," Hurt said. "But Tebow is in my class so I'm a Tebow fan and I'm a fan of his offense."

As the Gator football team strengthens in its third season under Urban Meyer, Hurt said there's a sense of excellence that needs only to be maintained rather than improved. And that success is inevitable.

"Our coaches have said that the program is infallible. So as long as we do our job, everything else is going to fall into place, and we're going to continue to win," Hurt said.

Fightin Gators Top Stories