Billy G Likes His New Kids

Florida receivers coach Billy Gonzales has one of the major challenges facing the Gator staff this fall. He has to replace his top two guys from a year ago. Florida lost Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy off the 2008 BCS Champs and that means 78 receptions and 14 TDs have gone away from the Florida attack.

Most of those catches will go to veterans like David Nelson, Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson, but you have to be intrigued by the potential of the two newest members of the Gator receiving corps. Freshmen Andre Debose and Stephen Alli are trying to make an early impression in camp in an effort to push their way into the rotation this season.

Gonzales gives us his assessment of the newcomers along with an update on the progress being made by Thompson who might be the most complete receiver in the group.

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On what he sees in Debose:

"I'll tell you what, he's got great quickness. He's got great athletic ability. We did the "tackle drill" which is a make you miss drill and the first time he went (he won). He has a really explosive step. He's only been practicing for a few days and we have a lot of stuff in terms of learning and teaching. The good thing about Andre is he's excited and he's anxious to learn. He's got great athletic ability, but he have to coach it and get him to where he's playing fast all the time.

On what Stephen Alli shows:

"He's another really explosive athlete. Normally when you get a tall (6-6) rangy guy like that he's not an explosive guy. We did a DB drills when he first got here and Coach Heater came up to me afterwards and said to me, 'I was really surprised for a rangy guy he's got great quickness.' He's only played one year of football. He's here because we think he's good enough. He came to camp and did a great job so we're expecting a lot of good things out of him.

On Alli's "smarts":

"He's really, extremely smart and picks things up fast. He came over on Saturday on the day off and we went over the playbook and he wanted to ask questions. He's a really neat young man and he's like a sponge. He said, 'Coach in two days I've learned more about football than I have in my entire life.' Those are the things that get you pumped up and excited because he's taking in every word you say and his attention to detail. It's always fun to coach guys like that.

On Deonte Thompson's improvement:

"He's always had the athletic ability but in the off-season he's really worked on the ability to drop his pad level and come out of the break quicker than he has in the past. The thing about him is he had such a strong off-season that he's a beast now. He's a strong, strong, strong young man in the weight room and he's able to be a lot more physical at the line of scrimmage. What he's done better is he's worked on technique for getting his releases instead of trying to use speed. Deonte is fast, but in the past (his attitude has been) I want to get in a foot race with you.

On the receivers' attitude toward Joe Haden running the offense some:

"Joe's a guy who played quarterback so it's not like you're taking a guy who's never taken a snap or a shotgun snap. He played high school quarterback so we'll line him up and see what he can do and what he can learn. All of our guys are excited. Joe (can throw it) surprisingly well. He can throw the ball really (well).


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