Gators off to Good Start

The Florida Gators opened up their 2009 season with a double session on Thursday, featuring the veterans in the morning and the newcomers in the evening. With some of the Gators finishing up finals from Summer B, head coach Urban Meyer said fall camp really won't start until next week. Still, Meyer was very pleased with the effort after both sessions.

"Right now they really look good," Urban Meyer said. "Coach Mick [Marotti] has done a great job. It's a good-looking team.

"I really enjoyed working out with these younger players. Obviously, they all qualified and they're all here. They look good."

Much of the focus on the incoming class will be placed on the talented wide receiver Andre Debose. Meyer has not been shy about the way he felt when he first popped in Debose's highlight film, and the freshman is expected to fill the role left vacant by NFL first round draft pick Percy Harvin.

"He battled that hamstring for a long time, but you can see," Meyer said. "Coach Mick can see. He runs a lot different than a lot of guys. He's a rare athlete. It's still too soon to tell. … He's walking around right now like he's on Mars, though."

Meyer was also impressed by the two freshmen linebackers. Meyer said Jon Bostic has a noticeable advantage after enrolling early and practicing in the spring, but he's also pleased with what he's seen from Jelani Jenkins.

"The two backers are tremendous," Meyer said. "I don't know if they'll be good players, but they're tremendous people. When the pads come on, I don't know, but they'll be in the mix."

Jenkins has made an early first impression on the head coach.

"I hope he'll [Jelani Jenkins] hit you because if so he'll play," Meyer said. "He's a high character guy who's fast. He could play this year cause he's got it all."

Meyer was caught by surprise earlier this summer when wide receiver Stephen Alli attended a camp and showed his talent. Meyer was surprised again when he learned that Alli would be on campus this year, and the freshman was at practice today.

"It's a great story," Meyer said. "He came to our camp and dominated. He's a great person. He's a 3.7 pre-med major. Articulate, great kid, and on top of that he's 6-6 and ran a 4.4 at our camp that day. We did our research and the actual school told us. They said you can't do January, but how about now? That's when we found out he was already three years in Toronto and one year in prep school."

The story with the veterans was more about who wasn't at practice rather than who was actually on the field. Running back Emmanuel Moody, who has been slowed with nagging injuries throughout his Gator career, didn't practice on day one.

"He tried to go, but he gimped up a little," Meyer said.

Offensive lineman Carl Johnson was also out.

"It's his back," Meyer said. "He was out here for a little while today. I think Carl is going to be back on Monday. I think Moody will try to be back by then."

Dustin Doe was also not in attendance after being suspended by Meyer for an arrest related to driving with a suspended license.

"There will be some punishment and he's not welcome back until he takes care of business," Meyer said. "It's real disappointing."

On the field, Meyer is impressed with the development of several players, mostly along the offensive and defensive lines.

"Matt Patchan is off the charts," Meyer said. "He had to do something and he did. There's been a bunch of progress as far as strength and development, and you'll see that as practice goes on."

"[Omar Hunter's] down to 297. This time last year he was 325, and it wasn't an impressive 325. It was a nasty 325."

"[Brandon Antwine] looks good. He rehabbed real hard and he looks good. Joey Sorentino looked good and rehabbed real hard. He has to block a punt and we have to make that happen. That's how much respect those guys have for him."

Last fall, the Gators started camp with a fairly solid offensive line. Other than the Pouncey twins, this year's other starting offensive line spots are up for grabs.

"It's not set at all," Meyer said. "You've got Sam Robey, Matt Patchan, and James Wilson had a very good morning, so it's not set at all."


  • Instead of having two sessions on Friday, the Gators will only practice in the morning. Said Meyer, "We're going to go tomorrow morning as a team. The coaches wanted to do it and I agreed to it. We're going to give them off until Sunday night."

  • Meyer quickly tried to quiet the talk about a potential undefeated season. Said Meyer, "You don't want that talk. The goal is to go to Atlanta. I read some of that too, but we just have to move on. Practice is what counts. It's not what the kids say and what reporters say. Kids just need to focus on the next practice."

  • The Gators' head coach was on the cover of Sports Illustrated sporting a some orange and blue shades. Said Meyer, "They took like 20 pictures, and at the end, he was a really nice guy, that nice guy stuff is gonna stop. He says, ‘just one time will you take the picture with the glasses on?' I said, ‘no, I'm not doing that.' He said, ‘it's just for me.' I wasn't going to do it, but then I said, ‘okay, one picture.' And that's the one they used."

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