Omarius Hines is seeing a lot of practice time playing the role that Aaron Hernandez filled on last year's team. That could cause opposing defensive coordinators some sleepless nights. The 6-1, 219-pounder has the speed (4.33) to get deep and the power to overpower undersized defenders. Gator offensive lineman Carl Johnson says Hines is even causing the Gator defense headaches.
"Omarius Hines can do great things," Johnson said. "He's like a modern day C.I. (Cornelius Ingram) but in a small form. He's just as big. He's too big for corners and he's too fast for linebackers. He's that hybrid player. It's fun watching him and see those little (defensive backs) try to tackle someone that big and those linebackers try so hard but can't come close to catching him. I'm really excited about that."
Hines says he's embraced trying to take the role of a guy who caught 61 passes last season.
"Yeah, pretty much (playing) like Hernandez used to do," Hines said. "I've been watching a little film of his and seeing the things he used to do. I'm just trying to use some of that stuff and the stuff I've already got to try to get open and make plays."
Hines caught 14 passes for 172 yards for the Gators last season making him the second leading returning receiver behind Deonte Thompson (24-343). He insists he has no preference between being a traditional wide receiver or being in the hybrid role.
"I really don't have a preference," Hines said. "It's all good to me. We're just trying to get better and win."
I asked Hines about the differences between the position.
"You have to be aware of the defenders," Hines said. "There are a lot more people around and you now and you have to keep your head on a swivel as soon as you catch the ball."
With Hines' development and having Carl Moore back healthy the Gators seem to be in good shape to replace some of the physical play they got from Hernandez and Riley Cooper last season. However, it's not likely the two can match the productivity of last year's duo which combined for 117 catches, 1,811 yards and 14 touchdowns.