Hornsby Making a Move

Coming into the spring I felt the biggest concern on this Gator football team was finding a playmaker at free safety. While many others were focused on the front seven of the Gator defense, I felt then and still feel a big time performer in the back of the secondary would help every other position on the rebuilding Florida defense.

After three weeks of spring ball the safety position looks better than anticipated and the front four has moved to the top of the list of concerns. Florida's move to make the safety positions interchangeable has the potential to confuse opposing offenses and maximize the abilities of likely starters Dorian Munroe and Major Wright. That said, I still like the idea of a guy back there ranging form sideline to sideline and making plays all over the place.

Enter Jamar Hornsby. The third year sophomore from Jacksonville is making a move this spring and appears to have moved into the No. 3 spot in the safety competition. Hornsby has done little up to this point in his Gator career, redshirting in 2006 and appearing in seven games last year, registering five tackles. As a high school senior Hornsby was the No. 3 rated safety in the country according to Scout.com. He produced five interceptions and also caught eight TD passes for Sandalwood High School in 2006.

I recently talked with Hornsby and safeties Coach Chuck Heater about his progress and the competition at the safety spots.


LV: How do you feel you're doing in the competition at safety?

JH: The battle at safety is tough. There's a lot of competition back there right now so you can't slack off at all. If you get a chance to make a play, I suggest you make that play because if you don't the next guy will.

LV: What do you think you bring to the mix, what can you add?

JH: I bring energy, speed and I love to hit. It's every safety's dream to make big plays, and I hope that's what I can do.

LV: When people think about safety at Florida they think about Reggie Nelson. How tough is it to try and live up to that legacy?

JH: Reggie Nelson is the best safety to ever touch Florida Field. When he got here, Reggie set the standard really high so that's what people expect.

LV: How is the chemistry among the guys fighting for playing time?

JH: It's great. We're best friends. We do everything together.

LV: How hard is it to stay that tight when you're trying to win jobs from each other?

JH: We already talk about that. Whatever happens on the football field stays on the field. We don't let that carry over to what we do off the field.

LV: What does this secondary have to get better at for this defense to make a big step this season?

JH: We have to make plays this year. We need lots more big hits and interceptions. We didn't do a lot of that last year but that's what we're expecting this year.


LV: Chuck what kind of progress is Jamar Hornsby making this spring?

CH: He's done a good job. He's a better football player than he's been at any other point in the time that he's been here. He has more consistency and that's important, so he's done a nice job, he really has.

LV: Does he have some big play potential bask there because of his length (6'2") and his speed?

CH: Yeah, he does. He's a very fast player on a straight line so he can make up some distance and that's really important at the safety spot because sometimes you have to make up a lot of grass. He has the speed that can help him do that.

LV: Has he become the third guy right now?

CH: I'm not going to get into all that. We're mixing and matching a lot of guys. We're going to come out of the spring and then we've got some guys we're going to look at this fall and we'll be ready to go to battle. We need guys who can play championship quality football. You never have enough of them. It's not good enough just to play. We're trying to win every game and win championships and that's the standard. I tell them the best safety I ever had was right here (Nelson). If you want to know what it takes to win a championship, that's the standard bearer. That's what those guys have to do and we're not there yet.

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

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