Spring Video & Analysis: The WR's

The Florida Gators have one glaring difference on the roster from the 2008 national championship football team and that is at wide receiver. Gone are superstars Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. In their place are still some unanswered questions but a bit of talent to choose from. Here is what we saw this spring.

The Gators had eight scholarship receivers participate in spring practice. Continuing on with our positional analysis of what we saw this spring, here is a video and written break down of the receiver position. It is a position that will go a long way in determining how good this 2009 version of the Florida Gators is and where they will ultimately rate in history.

The freshmen…

T.J. Lawrence signed with the Gators in 2008 and although physically ready to play, didn't get a chance to showcase his skills on Saturdays. Lawrence was a bit of an unknown coming into spring practice having spent the fall at safety before a slight injury and a move back to receiver with the scout team.

My impression of Lawrence improved in the spring as I saw a guy that constantly got open when playing in Percy Harvin's vacated slot position. He isn't the fastest, but he has great hands and finds ways to get open either by faking out defenders or just finding open areas in the zone. He made many more plays than I would have anticipated in the spring.

Frankie Hammond may have been the star of the spring at receiver. Hammond consistently made great catches, played tough, showed good speed, and showed a little bit of wiggle to make defenders miss when he needed to. I saw no negatives from Hammond's game other than he may still need to get just a bit bigger for blocking purposes. I will be shocked if Hammond isn't used early and often in 2009.

(Lawrence and Hammond)

Sophomore receivers…

Paul Wilson looks on course to have a David Nelson type career at Florida. Trapped behind some serious talent, Wilson has great awareness, good speed, and great habits on the field that will make him a valuable contributor before it is all over. Wilson knows the play book and will play a lot of special teams in 2009 to get on the field before seeing extended playing time in 2010 and 2011 I believe. If there is a down side is that he doesn't have that one big physical characteristic of a star receiver. In other words, he isn't blazing fast and he not overly tall. He just does everything pretty well and understands what all is going on at all times.

Deonte Thompson of course has the freaky speed that the Gator staff covets. This looks to be Thompson's break out year after catching a few big ones in 2008. He had a great start to spring, then faded a few days, before finishing really strong. Thompson is likely to make a huge mark this season as he looks to extend defenses with his 4.3 speed.

(Wilson and Thompson)

Upper classmen receivers…

Justin Williams is entering his junior year and I really thought he would have a breakout spring. That didn't really happen after his switch from safety where he played in the fall with so many scholarship players at that position. Williams has good size and speed and the ability to make people miss. He showed all of that, but seemed to disappear this spring as if the quarterbacks didn't know where he was at times. I still believe he will be a very good one and probably by the end of this year, but he wasn't able to show much in the spring.

Cade Holliday is a senior and son of former assistant Doc Holliday. Holliday is better than any one knows and it is strange how he doesn't get many accolades for his play at practice and I am as guilty as anyone. You will see the quickness and smarts he possesses in the video highlight below.

(Williams and Holliday)

David Nelson made a splash about midway through the season in 2008 when Tim Tebow and John Brantley really started finding him and he got a chance to play more. Nelson is the tallest of the Gator receivers and has decent speed and has become a great blocker for his teammates. He has become a weapon because he can play any receiver position on the field and has been asked to do so at times. Nelson had a good spring and looks to be utilized a lot more in 2009 than he was in 2008.

Carl Moore was right behind Hammond in productivity this spring. Moore now understands what he is doing on the field and so he is playing at a much faster pace than he was all of last year. It was easy to see the strides he made this spring and his size and athleticism makes him a great target for UF's quarterbacks. We have a lot of nice highlights of Moore right here.

(Nelson and Moore)

Freshman Omarius Hines did not participate this spring due to an injury sustained to both legs. Hines is expected back but it is not certain if that will be during the 2009 season. Senior Riley Cooper missed the spring to play baseball with the Gators. He will be back and is expected to be a major contributor himself in 2009.

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