Mid-Spring Report: Five That Impressed

We have hit the middle point of spring practice, number eight of 15 has passed and it is time to look back and see just who has made a big impression so far. I'm not going to get into the top five players on the team, but more the guys that stood out compared to maybe what was expected. There have certainly been some surprises this spring and here is what we thought so far.

I will go in reverse order from and finish with the most impressive, but all of these five players have done more than I expected them to do this spring.

I will first start with Jelani Jenkins. Now this must be presented with a caveat that I actually expected a lot out of Jenkins this spring, he has just surpassed those expectations. The freshman linebacker from Maryland played a little last year before suffering an injury that allowed him to redshirt. Jenkins is just a menace on the field. He has a knack of sifting through blockers and getting to the ball carrier. That knack has landed him a chance to actually play at middle linebacker in this Gator defense.

Jenkins has a Karate background and maybe that has something to do with the way he seeks and destroys the ball carrier all of the time. There is no one on the defense that plays faster than Jenkins. I had to take notice on Monday when he was actually directing senior linebacker Brandon Hicks where to line up during one play. Jenkins maturity inside the play book is huge and he will be a monstrous factor for the Gators this season.

Another guy I really expected a lot out of this spring was true freshman receiver Solomon Patton. He really hasn't let me down and he keeps demonstrating what a dynamic football player he really is. We all knew Patton was fast, finishing second in the state of Alabama in the 100 meters as a senior, but a lot of times that speed doesn't translate to the football field. In Patton's case, he has all the speed and then some. I am not sure he isn't the fastest Gator on the team when the pads go on. On Monday he was electrifying from the running back spot on his first, second, and third carries from the position. Patton will be a gamer.

Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins was someone we hardly figured in the mix opposite Janoris Jenkins, but he has securely held on to the starting spot through the midway of spring practice. The biggest of all of UF corners at 6-2, Jenkins is physical but has shown speed and the ability to hang with very fast and quick receivers down the field that I didn't know he had. There is no doubt that football staffs generally like to play experienced players more often than those with little to none even if the skill level isn't there. That won't be the case here as Jenkins has shown everything he needs to show to be a starting cornerback in the SEC. That isn't to say that a hard charging Jeremy Brown won't catch up, or one of the rookies won't do the same, but we should feel real comfortable right now with Moses Jenkins starting at corner.

One of my favorites this spring has been true freshman quarterback Trey Burton. All Burton does is go 150% every time the ball is snapped. The kid must live in the ice bath after every practice because he really takes a pounding and gets back up for some more multiple times during every practice session. Is he going to be the prettiest passer the Gators have fielded? Of course not, but I believe he is a great fit in this Florida offense and has enough tools to really make an outstanding player in the parameters of the offense.

The big key with me is that he isn't passive. He is willing to make mistakes in order to learn from them and he attacks with both his feet and his arm that way. He wasn't the most heralded quarterback Florida has signed, but Gator fans are going to learn to love this kid.

I would have to say I am really shocked at the play of freshman tight end Jordan Reed. Before the spring, if I had to pick one guy that would likely be a transfer option it would be Reed who moved from quarterback to tight end after Florida signed two quarterbacks on signing day. Reed is a ton more athletic than I ever realized. He plays pass receiver like he has done it for ten years. He is big at 6-4 and 240 and uses his size and strength to punish people when he has to. But he is also fast and overall athletic.

On Monday we saw the newest wrinkle in the offense when Reed was inserted at quarterback and ran the triple option. The play calls were limited with the little practice time, but he of course knows what he is doing running the ball as a quarterback.

As well as true freshman Gerald Christian has done, I don't see him passing Reed right now...that has to be a shocker after I had Reed transferring away from Florida in the first place.

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