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Spring notebook: When one speedy Gator falls; there's always one to take his place

LINK TO MY STORY ON HARVIN AND JAMES WILSON

GAINESVILLE -- The symbolism was there, blaring through a loudspeaker for all to hear. On the day Florida coach Urban Meyer told reporters that Percy Harvin needs surgery, there was news of a future Gator -- the next Percy Harvin, perhaps -- already filtering through spring practice. It seems there's always another speedy Gator waiting in the wings.

The latest speedster is Jeffrey Demps, a 2008 Florida commitment from Groveland South Lake. Demps clocked a 10.17 seconds in the 100-meter dash on Friday at the Florida Relays. The first day of the annual track meet took place on Friday within earshot of the Gators' football practice field. Shortly after Demps finished his race the track meet's personal address announcer declared the time to be the third fastest in world this year and the fifth fastest ever by a high school athlete.

"Word trickled down through our practice and I made couple comments to people that I know how to coach guys like that," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

Harvin will have foot surgery in North Carolina on Monday to correct his ailing heel. Dr. Robert Anderson, a leading surgeon in the field, will perform the operation. Meyer expects Harvin to return to full strength no later than July.

PATCHAN WILL PLAY, SAYS MEYER
Freshman lineman Matt Patchan continues to impress coaches this spring, according to Meyer. Patchan was recruited as an offensive tackle but is now practicing with the defensive line. Meyer said that Patchan will play next season but doesn't yet know at what position. Patchan, who arrived at Florida this January a bit too small to play offensive line, isn't letting that setback affect him in practice.

"To think he's doing what he's doing and he did not have an offseason because he has been hurt, that tells you what kind of player he is," Meyer said. "I'm really impressed with him."

KEEP AN EYE ON THE SECONDARY
Florida will conduct another scrimmage on Saturday and all eyes will be on the Gators' defensive secondary, which Meyer said on Friday is the team's most improved position. Starters Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis are performing well in practice and Meyer says it's no secret why: "They were all freshmen and now they're sophomores with game experience."

While the secondary is receiving high marks, the defensive line remains a concern. Defensive tackle Torrey Davis did not practice on Friday, two days after he was kicked out of practice for fighting.

"I'd say our back end has improved more than our front end," Meyer said. "The front end still has a ways to go."

-jo-

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