Five Spring Surprises

They weren't surprises really in that the talent was thought to be there with each of these prospects. However, the amount of production and ability these five Gators showed this spring turned the heads of coaches and fans alike. Here are my thoughts on the five players that went above and beyond the expectations put on them for the 2009 spring practice sessions.

Freshman Frankie Hammond was the team's most thrown to wide receiver for most of the 15 practices. Hammond set out to try and win a job from a trio of seniors and made a statement catching everything thrown his way and often times doing something with it when he caught it. Hammond is quick and can make people miss in space. He showed in the spring game just what he has shown all spring and should be a big force when fall practices start in August.

Injuries to the offensive line made it tough for the starting unit to gain any continuity. Among the injured was junior center Maurkice Pouncey who only practiced three days of the 15. In his absence, redshirt freshman Sam Robey stepped in and did a marvelous job. The snaps were crisp and on target. He held his own against a stout and quick defensive interior. He received praise from both head Coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio. Robey's smooth transition could actually open the door for other moves along the line if they are deemed necessary to make it the best line possible in the fall. He moved himself into the top seven among the linemen, and most certainly will see meaningful playing time in the fall.

The biggest loss after Percy Harvin decided to try his talent in the NFL was the dismissal of Torrey Davis from the team for the 2009 season. The Gators returned everyone that contributed on defense in 2008 except for Davis. Davis wasn't a huge factor last season but he did make a few plays that were difference makers as the season progressed.

Sophomore Jaye Howard tried to erase any worries of losing Davis with his play at the defensive tackle position in the spring. Gifted with quickness and size, Howard harassed the quarterbacks all spring and made life miserable when the offense tried to run the ball. He is more of the play making tackle like Davis and should really push starter Terron Sanders for the starting job in the fall.

The biggest shocker of all may have been the big time play of true freshman Jon Bostic at middle linebacker. Having arrived in January, straight out of high school, Bostic was known to be an athlete. However, he was a difference maker almost every day in practice and quickly moved into the number two middle linebacker spot right behind starter Brandon Spikes. Urban Meyer told the media following the spring game that Bostic will be vying for a starting spot in the linebacker corps when the fall starts. That speaks volumes with the amount of talent on hand.

It was evident from the first day of practice that the Gators signed yet another good cornerback in redshirt freshman Adrian Bushell. Absent from the eyes of fans last fall when he was waiting to hear back from the NCAA Clearinghouse on his being approved to play, Bushell got his first taste of the defense in front of fans this spring. He played aggressively, showed quickness, and instincts en route to the best spring by any cornerback on the roster. Bushell showed that he is yet another young player that needs to get on the field for the Gators.

Not one of them may start in 2009, but barring injury, all five of these players should likely see a great deal of meaningful minutes on the field with a roster deeper than any the Gators have had in decades. This isn't all of the spring's nice surprises, but these are my top five.

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