Injuries Beginning to Mount

The Florida Gators have cautiously sat some people this spring due to injury, but the number of guys watching practice instead of practicing is starting to increase. Wide receiver David Nelson went down over the weekend and during Monday's workout, freshman Desmond Parks went down.

Desmond Parks has earned some early praise from Urban Meyer during his first semester in Gainesville, but the freshman hurt his knee during Monday's workout and had to be helped off the practice field.

"We're having some injuries right now and that's the worst part of coaching," Meyer said after practice. "Des sprained his knee and we're going to find out how bad. Trattou sprained his shoulder. Right now, you look out at the offensive line and it's all freshmen. They're not even freshmen, they're pre-freshmen – [Nick] Alajajian and Jonotthan Harrison. They're trying. Guys are getting better. Brendan Beal practiced for the first time and did good, good effort and good enthusiasm. We don't have to play tomorrow, so that's all right."

Early reports on Saturday were that David Nelson may have broken his foot, but Meyer said it's not as serious.

"Nelson has a sprained foot," Meyer said. "He'll be fine. I don't know if he'll be playing anymore this spring, but he'll be fine."

The injury to Parks, though, had Meyer a bit concerned especially after Brendan Beal missed all of last year after tearing his ACL in a spring practice last year.

"[Parks is] a young player that's got eyes like saucers right now," Meyer said. "He's got academics and football and he's such a good kid. I love him. It's not the injury because at some point everyone gets hurt. It's how an athlete deals with the injury. I grabbed him and I'll go see him again. He's such a great kid."

Offensive lineman James Wilson was also hurt on Saturday and on crutches on Monday.

"They're going to MRI it tonight," Meyer said. "He's had some feet problems so I don't know, but he was doing very well before he got hurt. The thing is that even if it is something serious, he should be fine for the fall."

Meyer said there is some positive coming out of all the injuries. The Gators are forced to give guys a lot of reps who wouldn't normally get that many reps.

"[Sam] Robey is a guy that Steve Addazio is real excited about," Meyer said. "He scrimmaged well the other day. It gives us some flexibility if he can go. We're always looking for a guy that can snap the ball. When he's in there, you don't notice. That's a bad way to say it, but there're guys that go in there and you know there's going to be sacks and missed assignments. Robey is doing good. If you're looking for a positive, we're developing depth. If you're looking for a negative, we're awful right now."

Meyer also said the fullbacks are beginning to show signs of improvement, which helps alleviate some of the impact of Desmond Parks should he be out for an extended period of time.

"We don't play a ‘tight' tight end," Meyer said. "We play a guy that moves around. Right now, T.J. Pridemore has made great strides. Wilks is even showing a pulse so we're starting to get a little depth at that position. I think Brian White is doing really good with those guys. A week ago, it was bordering on comical."

Meyer is seeing good improvement on the defensive line as well.

"Omar [Hunter] is coming and so is Jaye [Howard]," he said. "I say pulse, and you know they're out there when they're out there. We need them all."

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Senior linebacker Brandon Spikes certainly had some options at the end of last season and made a big decision in staying for his final season in Gainesville. Meyer acknowledged that Spikes was ready for the NFL.

"Was he ready to go to the NFL?" Meyer said. "Absolutely. Was he going to be the first player picked or the 12th player picked? That's up to other people that are more important than us to decide. He came back because he wants a degree, and he loves college. I think he can enhance his value."

Meyer expects Spikes to be one of the best leaders he's ever seen this season.

"Off the charts, that's what kind of leader I want him to be," Meyer said. "I think he can be the best leader. I don't know if he'll get there, but Lawrence Marsh became a player. You can credit Dan McCarney and Strong, but I credit Brandon Spikes. He had enough with that one bad year."


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