Safety Remains a Concern

Remember back in February when the Gators announced their signing class for 2008? I sure do. You looked at the class and the first thing that stood out was perhaps the nation's best tandem of safeties in Will Hill and Dee Finley.

Florida could look ahead to a loaded safety position with those two joining Major Wright, Jerimy Finch, Jamar Hornsby, Dorian Munroe and Bryan Thomas.

Well, as has been well documented, that unit has been dwindling faster than the list of Barry Bonds' fans. Munroe is out for the year. Thomas has not practiced after surgery to remove a cyst. Finch transferred, Hornsby was dismissed and Finley failed to qualify and the Gators were down to three scholarship safeties when fall camp began.

Incoming freshman T.J. Lawrence was tried there for a few days, but that apparently didn't work out so well and once he's healthy again he'll be back at receiver. Then on Saturday, third year sophomore Justin Williams volunteered to take a shot at giving the Gators some better play there. The 6-1, 205-pounder from Georgia has all the physical tools to play in the secondary. In fact when he was being recruited a number of schools saw him as more of a defensive prospect.

If you visit this site regularly you would know that moving Williams to safety was on of my pre-camp suggestions, but it seems the coaching staff is not stopping by all that often. Still, now that it's no longer my idea, Williams is part of the picture at safety for the Gators.

After Tuesday morning's practice, coach Urban Meyer discussed the safety situation, first giving an injury update on Lawrence.

UM: "T.J. Lawrence hurt his shoulder and will be out, I'm not sure for how long. They think he subluxed it, but he should be fine."

(A subluxation of the shoulder is a partial, temporary dislocation of the joint often referred to as the shoulder "popping out")

LV: How is it going for Justin Williams at safety?

UM: "The scrimmage (Wednesday) is going to be really important to him. He's been there for two days. He's very athletic and runs really well, but can he understand it? Learn it? Our secondary coach Chuck (Heater) is pretty excited about it."

LV: Did Chuck go to him or how did it come about?

UM: "He actually came to me and it was kind of mutual. I think it's called tampering in the NFL."

LV: How would you assess the safety situation right now?

UM: "Concerned. You know I think Will Hill has to really go. I think Ahmad Black has had great practices. Major Wright's doing good, but Major Wright's got to keep working too. You know everybody kinda says the guy who played there two years ago (Reggie Nelson) was really good. That's kind of the standard that's been set. Our fourth guy, our third guy ii it going to be Will or J-dub? And Cade Holliday is going to be in that mix, too."

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


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