Azzanni Looking for More

Urban Meyer was interested to see how many playmakers would step up in Saturday morning's scrimmage. Veteran wide receivers proved reliable and a freshman stepped up, but wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni is still looking for players to provide depth.

"We're grinding through all the mid-camp soreness," Zach Azzanni said. "We're just putting the whole offense in, slowly but surely."

Besides getting the players prepared for game speed, the purpose of the scrimmage was to see how the players would respond on their own. The coaches stood on the sideline and plays were called from quarterback John Brantley in the huddle.

It's the only way the Florida coaches can simulate game situations until they open the season September 4.

"Coach Meyer makes it clear to let these kids play and us get out of the huddle," Azzanni said. "Let's see what they can do, what they can handle and what they can retain. Days like this, they start dividing himself. The freshmen get in there and you see the ones that are calm under pressure, and you see the ones that freak out a little bit."

The proven talent at wide receiver isn't overwhelming. There is plenty of talent, though.

Carl Moore is one of the players the Gators will depend on heavily. He came to Gainesville highly regarded as a junior college wide receiver, but he only caught one touchdown in his junior season. A back injury forced him to redshirt last season, but he is showing signs of stepping up during camp.

"Carl Moore had a heck of a day today," Azzanni said. "He really came out and did some nice things for us. He made some good plays. He stuck out to me today. He got some first downs when we needed first downs today."

The difference in Moore started during the second half of spring practices. He has the look of a go-to wide receiver, and a closer relationship with his position coach could be one of the reasons for the increased production.

"He is really buying in," Azzanni said. "He's doing everything I ask him to do with a great attitude. He triggered it. (We have) built a good relationship, and my job is to get him to perform and buy in."

Moore's back injury took him out of contention to be a contributor at wide receiver. With the depth chart as open as it is, he is now heading for being a leader at the position.

Moore has also realized this is his last chance to play college football, and if he wants to continue playing the game at the next level, a big season is a must.

"You're a ball player, a competitor, and you didn't get to play last year," Azzanni said. "It's frustrating to watch, especially when he came in here with high expectations. He knows he has a limited window, and he wants a future in football. He's trying to do everything he can to get a championship and then move on."

Deonte Thompson is expected to be the big play receiver for the Gators. His speed to stretch the field has presented mismatches since he stepped on campus, but now the Gators are aiming for more production.

"I love Deonte and I'm rooting for Deonte," Azzanni said. "He's a great ambassador of our program. He's a great kid. Anything I ask him to do, he does. What I don't want to do is put too much on his plate. I want Deonte to be Deonte and keep getting better. I need to get him better and not rely so much on him getting this group better."

Chris Rainey was on the field to warm up with the team, but he didn't participate in the scrimmage. He is expected to return to practice on Monday, for what his position coach believes will be a crucial week.

"He's great at knowing his assignments," Azzanni said. "We've just got to get him back next week and taking reps, reps and reps."

The Florida coaches have kept a close eye on slot receiver Andre Debose. He missed all off last season because of a hamstring injury, but all reports on him out of camp are positive.

"He made some plays for us," Azzanni said of the scrimmage. "He's still young with a lot to learn. He's fine physically. Mentally, I've just got to get him going."

Chris Dunkley played sparingly in the scrimmage but continues to battle through a hamstring injury. Azzanni said that Dunkley "didn't stand out today."

The freshman wide receiver that did open some eyes in the scrimmage was Quinton Dunbar. He made a touchdown reception where he went over Joshua Shaw in the end zone to pull in the reception.

"He has a lot of natural talent and ability," Azzanni said of Dunbar. "He does things that are natural and instinctive. We've just got to coach him on the rest of it."

Frankie Hammond is having "a heck of a camp." He was arrested for a DUI in the offseason and lost his scholarship and spot on the depth chart because of it. Coach Meyer said Hammond must work his way back on the team, and he is doing that this fall.

"He's doing great," Azzanni said. "He's such a utility player for us. He'll go out there and play every position as hard as he can. If there's a receiver not in there for any chance, he jumps in there."
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