Fayson Stepping Up

Jarred Fayson has all the tools to be a big time player at the University of Florida. He has size, speed and versatility to play a host of positions, which fits Urban Meyer's offensive scheme perfectly, but one thing has held him back until now.

Coming in as a highly recruited athlete out of high school, Jarred Fayson thought he'd show up in Gainesville and immediately make an impact, but he's learned during his first 12 months on campus that it takes more than just that.

"The light came on that Friday night before the SEC Championship Game when I came in for a bed check at about quarter to 11 and him and Dallas [Baker] are having a heart to heart," Urban Meyer said after Monday's first practice session. "Let's lose the selfishness, and it doesn't matter how many carries I get or how many touches I get, let's go find a way to win a game."

The next day, Fayson went out and blocked a punt that helped the Gators hold off Arkansas for the SEC title.

"Everybody needs a victory in their life and after he blocked that punt, I don't think he's been the same person ever since he got his hand on that ball," Meyer said.

Meyer talked over the summer about involving Fayson more in the offense, and by what the sophomore is showing on the practice field so far this fall, the talk should become a reality.

"He's carrying the ball," Meyer said, "He's playing receiver. He's making plays. He's running screens and making plays. Last year, he thought he was a playmaker, but he just didn't make them all the time. He's making them on a consistent basis now. I'm really pleased with his effort."

"Jarred Fayson had one of his better days as a Gator," Meyer added.

Fayson has a good lead to follow. The Gators may be young, but a few of the standout veterans they do have are some of the hardest workers during practice.

"Some people think that they are primos and others aren't, but you see a guy like Derrick Harvey and Andre Caldwell and they practice as hard as they can," Meyer said. "I'm awful proud of they way they are going at it."

Harvey is not an outspoken player, in fact he rarely speaks at all, but he always goes 100 percent, and that has the younger guys taking notice. Still, Meyer would like to see a little more coming out of his mouth.

"He puts it on 10 and goes as hard as he can," Meyer said. "I think he is a little bit like Chris Leak when I first got here. I buy that, but I don't buy that. I'm not saying you have to do jumping jacks and cheer people on, but you do have to get on people and encourage them and motivate them."

With such a young defense this season, Meyer is looking for someone on that side to become a more vocal leader. Brandon Siler used to hold that role, and in his absence, Meyer is looking to Brandon Spikes who takes over Siler's middle linebacker position.

"[He leads] in a different way, but he is vocal," Meyer said. "Brandon Siler set the standard as far as leadership goes. [Spikes] has done everything we've asked him to do. I always wonder how he's going to handle the hard. That's his whole theme because in February he didn't handle it too well, but he's doing well."

Watkins solidifying a spot

The offensive line situation appears to be straightening itself out. Meyer has been confident in four players, but on Monday he gave offensive tackle Jason Watkins a full bill of support.

"We have a fifth linemen, and that's Jason Watkins," Meyer said.

Meyer went on to say that he has no idea who will be backing up a starting line, however, of Phil Trautwein, Carlton Medder, Drew Miller, Jim Tartt and Watkins from right to left. The Gators continue to have some problems, though, with the center shotgun snaps.

"It's gotten much better," Meyer said. "Once again, I don't know who the sixth linemen is."

Meyer said that Trautwein is the leading candidate to backup Miller at center.


  • Cameron Newton participated in his second practice of the fall, and although Meyer said there are no lasting effects from a sore back, Newton has some ground to make up. Said Meyer, " My biggest thing is that I haven't seen him throw the football. We got three other guys that are getting reps."
  • No stripes have come off since Major Wright lost his, but a couple newcomers are getting close. Said Meyer, "I'll tell you a guy to watch for is Jerimy Finch. He'll play this year. I don't know what position, either safety or outside linebacker, but I'm really excited about his effort. ... Major has [been good], but he missed a tackle in the little scrimmage we just had. Deonte Thompson has. There's been a lot of good, and I‘m going to get some more stripes off."
  • Riley Cooper did not practice this morning, and Meyer let it be known that during last year's fall camp, he approached Cooper about playing safety. Said Meyer, "He's a big old stud that wants to smack you. I was worried at safety because I though we might have to move Reggie Nelson to corner because Ryan Smith was an unknown. If Reggie went to corner then we needed a big time safety back there. I thought he was that guy."
  • Aaron Hernandez has still not returned to practice after suffering a neck stinger last week.

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