Playing Physical

Earlier this week, T.J. Pridemore had the black stripe removed from his helmet. The ceremonious stripe signifies that the freshman has earned the respect of head coach Urban Meyer and become a true Gator.

In the same breath that Meyer said he took off Pridemore's stripe, he said that it's likely that the freshman will play this season. Even though he was regarded more as a linebacker in high school, Pridemore will play the H-back role in Meyer's spread offense.

"It's more of the Billy Latsko, Eric Rutledge position," assistant coach John Hevesy said. "It's going to be a fullback or an on the line fullback. He can do either one. He's a 6-3, 245-pound kid. Right now he's going to be learning a little more of the fullback, backfield, motion guy."

Pridemore doesn't really fall into the true running back category, so he's spent a lot of time learning the position under Hevesy who also coaches the tight ends. The role that he's looking for Pridemore to fill is similar to the position Aaron Hernandez filled last season. It helps free up Hernandez for the more traditional tight end role now that Cornelius Ingram is lost for the season.

"We still have Aaron, we still have Tate [Casey] and Kestahn [Moore] can pick up a little of that," Hevesy said. "We've kind of narrowed down what he can do until he can get it down pat."

The key to Pridemore's progression during fall camp has been to not overwhelm the freshman. Instead of teaching him how to line up on both the line and in the backfield, the focus has been on coming out of the backfield.

"He's a new kid so you don't want to overwhelm him," Hevesy said. "He's got to learn little parts at a time so we get him confident in what he's doing before you swamp him with everything."

So far, it appears that Pridemore is handling the offense well. And not only is he understanding what he needs to do, he does it with some physicality. Meyer said he "cements" people when he hits them.

"The one thing that's impressed me is that he's thrown his face in there," Hevesy said. "He's not scared of contact. What I'm impressed with is that he's learning, he's going and he's a physical guy."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


Fightin Gators Top Stories