Day One of the 2009 Season

The much anticipated start of spring practice got underway 20 minutes late, but the Florida Gators made up for it by practicing one hour beyond the scheduled end time. The first day of spring drills was the first chance to eyeball the new freshmen and get a better look at the guys who sat out the 2008 season. Several things stood out to me.

Carl Moore ---- I can't say he caught everything they threw at him, but it was close to that. Moore was Florida's busiest receiver, and while I don't think he measures up to his listed 6-5 he has excellent size, broad shoulders and good hands. Didn't see him run downfield much, but he has the look of a keeper.

Deonte Thompson --- Mark it down, the redshirt freshman from Glades Central is going to be a star. Thompson showed good route running and hands and displayed his tremendous speed on more than one occasion.

Cam Newton --- After limited playing time in '08 Newton threw the ball incredibly well on opening day. He threw to the right spots against zone coverages and connected with Thompson on one of the best plays of the day. Newton will certainly be ready if needed.

Torrey Davis --- The big fella had his motor running even though it was a "non-contact" day. His quickness of the ball should give him a chance to be a major factor on Florida's rebuilt line.

Jaye Howard --- Talk about getting bigger in your first few months of campus. Look forward to seeing him put that new frame to work in pads.

James Wilson Goes to Work

The redshirt freshman offensive guard was out there for the first day despite six weeks of speculation about whether or not he will be transferring at the end of the school year. Wilson had been declared out of spring drills by Coach Urban Meyer, but there he was, going through drills and getting some individual instruction from senior tackle Phil Trautwein.

While most players would duck the media under the circumstances, Wilson faced those who cover the Gators and talked frankly about his frustrations and the fact the transferring remains an option for him. He was asked why he was out there if his future with the Gators was in doubt.

JW: I wanted to show that I'm a competitor and I've heard al lot of words that I'm not. I just want to show people what I can do and get better in the long run.

Q: So is transferring still a consideration?

JW: Yeah, I'm just keeping an open mind I guess. I'm getting closer to the team now that I'm working with ‘em.

LV: How did that extra time with Phil Trautwein help you?

JW: It helps a lot because Phil is so fundamentally sound.

LV: How much is he talking football and how much does he talk life and try to help you deal with what you're going through?

JW: He talks about both, you know. I talked with him about all the problems I've been having. He's really a good person to talk to, but when we're out here he's just trying to make me a better football player. I owe a lot to Phil.

LV: You're not the first the freshman to struggle emotionally during his first year on a college campus. Have you talked with some of your teammates about what they went through and how they handled it?

JW: Oh yeah. A lot of guys said they understand and a lot of them got talked into staying. I guess I had a pretty tough freshman year, but I wanted to come out here and give it a shot.

LV: How did it feel to be out here?

JW: It felt great. I really feel like I'm getting in touch with the team by being out here and doing what they're doing. I'm getting closer.

LV: What do you want Gator fans to think about you and all of this?

JW: That's a tough question. I want support, but I understand how things work out. Right now I'm just enjoying being out here and Gator fans have been good to me and I got a lot of messages telling me they don't want me to leave. I just gotta talk it out with my family more.

LV: Is today the most you've felt like a Gator in a long time?

JW: Yes, most definitely. Yes sir, it felt great.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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