Spring Practice: Day One Thoughts

The first day of spring football practice for the Florid Gators has come and gone and the day had a little more glow to do it following UF's Pro Scout Day earlier in The Swamp. The fans were stacked on the sideline despite the cloudy, cold, and drizzly weather. Urban Meyer was back where he belongs, in front of his team yelling and coaching them. And the boys came in to camp in pretty good shape.

The spring's most notable story is certainly going to be the play of junior quarterback John Brantley. Pro Day followed by the first day of spring was kind of a passing of the torch if you will as Tim Tebow threw the football for the last time in The Swamp and John Brantley took over for Tebow as the boss of the Gators.

It was apparent on the day that Brantley was excited because he threw a lot of very high passes on the day. He certainly wasn't his accurate self on Wednesday but also was able to complete some nice passes. The Gators didn't take a single snap under center today and we have heard that the first snaps from under center will come on Saturday.

I was impressed with the play of true freshman quarterback trey Burton and thought he looked better than most people expected. Burton was on target most of the day, but there were some times where mechanical flaws showed themselves and he threw the pass a little too low. Burton outperformed Brantley today in the 7-on-7 drill.

At running back, we didn't see much because of the shorts and no pads, but Emmanuel Moody did go down early in practice with an ankle or lower leg injury only to return a little while later after nursing the injury. Mike Gillislee looked good lining up at receiver and actually caught a couple of short passes as the split wide receiver in a five wide set.

In the 1-on-1s, the receivers pretty much owned the day as they should. Robert Clark got the first snap of the drill and made one unidentified defensive back look a little silly as he ran by him. Deonte Thompson made freshman cornerback Jaylen Watkins look silly on their first mix up between the two. Chris Rainey took two DB's to the house. Stephen Alli showed some great quickness for a guy his size, he was a track star in high school so we know he also has speed.

When the receivers went to the seven on seven match ups, Chris Rainey shined from he slot position. He did get caught one time in traffic and dropped the ball, but more often than not he was a common target for each quarterback. One guy that surprised me a little bit was senior Justin Williams, he looked very confident in what he was doing, something I haven't seen from him in his career.

Solomon Patton and Robert Clark are blurs in the slot. Both are lightning quick and both had great days outside of a couple of drops by Patton.

Carl Moore is going to be my surprise player of the spring. You can just see that he is a big receiver that will also be a playmaker in this offense. One guy that wasn't thrown too very often was Deonte Thompson, at least not many connections. However, he dropped a bomb from Brantley that would have been a score.

Something nice to see was Andre Debose out on the practice field running and cutting. Only the doctors know when he will be fully released to participate in contact drills, but seeing him run around was a great sign.

At tight end surprisingly enough Jordan Reed is the guy that stood out to me. Of the three tight ends out there, he is the most physically stout, although Gerald Christian and Desmond Parks are no chumps. For a former quarterback, Reed does have surprising athletic ability. I look forward to seeing the battle for this position as we continue through the spring.

Without contact, and no running the ball, there isn't much to talk about with the offensive line. Some notables were Sam Robey missed a lot of drills and I wasn't sure why. Marcus Gilbert did play with the one's today after I was told he would miss a lot of practice due to his elbow injury. I asked about his elbow and if he was going to go in contact drills soon and he hesitated but thinks he will on Saturday. Matt Patchan and Carl Johnson did not work out as expected and I found out for sure neither will be there for the entire spring. Strangely enough, Carl Johnson is listed at 360 pounds on the roster, but doesn't look like it to me.

There seemed to be absolutely nothing shaking new on the defensive line. The starters across the line were William Green, Jaye Howard, Omar Hunter, and Justin Trattou as I expected. Brandon Antwine didn't work out, at least what I saw. Jaye Howard probably had the best day getting pressure and batting down two passes during drills.

The make-up of the linebacker depth chart was a little off from my article a day ago. I had Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones pegged for the wrong positions. Hicks is starting at WILL with Jelani Jenkins backing him up. Jones starts at the SAM with Dee Finley and Neiron Ball backing him up. Lorenzo Edwards got the start in the middle He was backed up by Jon Bostic and Brendan Beal who is still in the middle despite telling some folks he was moving outside. Beal seemed to be the most active of the linebackers so far.

At safety Ahmad Black started at strong with Will Hill at free safety. Josh Evans backed up Hill at free, while Matt Elam and Jordan Haden split time as the back up at strong safety. Elam was also the first safety in at the nickel position on the day. Black and Elam made the most noise of the group batting a couple of passes down each.

A great site on defense was seeing Jeremy Brown working out the entire day and through all the drills. There is no contact yet, so time will tell where this goes, but I like the chances for Brown to start if he gets the chance. Moses Jenkins started opposite Janoris Jenkins at corner today. Mick Hubert might be in trouble is those two start and Jelani Jenkins lights it up this year. Maybe not so surprising after the information we brought you last week, Adrian Bushell missed practice and Urban Meyer said he has some academic things to take care of.

Extras...

It was non-contact but that doesn't mean there is zero contact. Des Parks and Jaylen Watkins had a big collision while Watkins in the seven on seven as the two weren't watching each other and collided head on right in the middle of it all.

One interesting thing about having the first day of spring practice on the same day as Tim Tebow's Pro Scout day, was all the media that was in attendance. There were a lot.

Lake City Columbia head coach Craig Howard was in attendance at practice and Pro Day. The coach of the nation's top high school defensive tackle Tim Jernigan was most likely in town to see Tim Tebow as Howard used to coach Tebow at Nease High School. Unfortunately for recruitniks, Howard was alone and not with Jernigan on the visit.

There will be a short goal-line scrimmage this Saturday morning at the practice field.

Here are all the early enrollee freshmen jersey numbers...

Burton 13
Patton 83
Clark 81
Christian 32
Reed 11
Silberman 77
Orr 68
Ball 48
Elam 22
Haden 39
Shaw 29
Watkins 14


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