GAINESVILLE -- Well, spring football at the University of Florida is basically over. Everyone you've ever heard of is injured. The football team practiced in shorts and helmets on Wednesday. Friday is a "walk-through" day for the spring game. The Gainesville Sun is now writing about walk-ons. Yep, spring football is a rap.
The Orange & Blue Game is on Saturday. If you're coming to Gainesville for the big show then here are some things you might need to know. CLICK ME! Oh, and make sure you bring some cash. The price of admission is $5.
With spring football in the books, let's hand out some awards...
OFFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
TE Aaron Hernandez emerged as quarterback Tim Tebow's favorite receiver this spring. Hernandez, who is the Gators' top returning player in receiving yards, touchdowns and receptions, is Florida's best offensive player entering two-a-days. (Not counting Tebow, of course.)
DEFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
SS Ahmad Black never gets enough love. (Except from Gator Clause, that is.) We lobbied for Black to be an All-American last season and this spring we're naming Black the spring's most valuable defensive player. Why? Well, No.1 he has played like an All-American this spring and also never took a day off. The same cannot be said for guys like Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden and Major Wright. The second reason is the most important. Black is a born leader and he is helping keep the peace on a defense that's so overcrowded that its second unit is probably the fifth or sixth best defense in the SEC.
OFFENSIVE BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER
RB Emmanuel Moody earned his rightful place as the Gators' every-down back this spring. He enters two-a-days as the Gators' best all-around running back. The Gators are even trying to run the I-formation to get Moody more touches. The I-formation might not stick around for two-a-days but Moody's place on the team certainly will. He's a starter.
DEFENSIVE BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER
LB Jon Bostic didn't take long to make a name for himself at the University of Florida. The true freshman linebacker has the makings of a real star and is already being dubbed the heir apparent to middle linebacker Brandon Spikes. In the meantime, Bostic enters two-a-days as a second-team defender. That's a major accomplishment considering the defense the Gators return from last season. Oh, we forgot to mention one very important thing about Bostic. He's only a freshman and the 6-1 linebacker already weighs 235 pounds.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYERS
5. WR Frankie Hammond Jr. (6-0, 175 pounds): Florida coach Urban Meyer recently named this Hallandale native the Gators' fifth-best receiver. That's high praise for a freshman who was somewhat of a surprise when he signed with Florida last February. After an impressive two-a-days last season, Hammond redshirted in 2008, hit the weight room and gained more than 20 pounds of muscle. With sure hands, above-average speed and a remarkable leaping ability, Hammond will compete for playing time during two-a-days.
4. DT Omar Hunter (6-0, 308 pounds): A rising sophomore, Hunter is turning into the defensive tackle everyone expected him to be last season. Hunter will enter two-a-days as a prominent fixture in the defensive-tackle rotation.
3. DT Jaye Howard (6-3, 296 pounds): A physical defensive lineman who coaches expect to fill the void left by Torrey Davis, who is no longer on the football team. Howard, who will be a redshirt sophomore next season, received most of his reps this spring with the first-team defense.
2. QB John Brantley (6-3, 217 pounds): In a blind taste test this spring, four out of five judges actually thought John Brantley was the Gators' starting quarterback and not Tim Tebow. Brantley played THAT well. He improved steadily throughout the spring and should impress a few people on Saturday.
1. C Sam Robey (6-4, 291 pounds): Before this spring, most people probably didn't even know this player was on the team. That should change next season. Robey emerged as a viable option as the Gators' starting center this spring. He's intelligent, athletic and plays with a mean streak. Robey will get a serious look at the starting center position during two-a-days. If Robey is the starting center, it will allow current center Maurkice Pouncey to move back to gaurd, where he was a freshman All-American in 2007.
Honorable Mention: DT Earl Okine, DE William Green, WR Carl Moore, WR Deonte Thompson and DE Duke Lemmens.
BEST LINEMAN AWARD
Offensive tackle Carl Johnson (6-5, 342 pounds) blocked out all the distractions swirling around him this spring and turned in an excellent performance. He earned a starting spot at one of the most important positions on the field and should be commended for his effort. Oh, and offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Steve Addazio says Johnson's calf muscles are as big as his head.
MR. PHYSICAL AWARD
CB Markihe Anderson is healthy for the first time in over a year and it showed during spring practice. The senior-to-be defensive back took every opportunity to impress coaches with aggressive tackles and a relentless effort. It didn't go unnoticed. Anderson will challenge Janoris Jenkins, the returning starter who will be a sophomore next season, for a spot on the first team during two-a-days.
WILL HILL IMPACT FRESHMAN SAFETY AWARD
We just had to make up a catagory for SS Dee Finley (6-2, 211 pounds). That's how much potential this player displayed during spring practice. You read it here first, Finley will be the Will Hill of the 2009 season. He'll lead the Gators' special teams players in tackles and work his way onto the field by the end of the season. (OK, that's a bold prediction. Don't hold me to it.)
COMEBACK PLAYER AWARD
SS Dorian Munroe of Miami worked long hours last year to return to the field following his torn knee ligament in 2008. The redshirt senior should play a valuable role on the team next season as a leader both on and off the field. With spring practice over, Munroe is still behind Ahmad Black on the depth chart at strong safety but the Gators are in good hands if Black goes down with an injury.