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Florida Gators freshmen Jon Bostic and Xavier Nixon stand out among newcomers

GAINESVILLE -- Consider freshmen linebacker Jon Bostic (Wellington) and offensive lineman Xavier Nixon (Fayetteville, N.C.) to be the two early candidates to lose their helmet stripes.

One of preseason camp's many rituals at the University of Florida is the "de-striping" of incoming freshmen. In 2007, safety Major Wright was the first player to lose his stripe. Running back Jeff Demps had the honors in 2008.

Anyway, Meyer said on Monday that Bostic stood out in practice and that he is "really advanced for a freshman." Bostic's father, Jon Bostic Sr., played three seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. According to Meyer, Bostic Jr.'s high school highlight tape wasn't as impressive as other recruits but the player's NFL bloodline was proof enough that Bostic Jr. had the potential to blossom into a special player.

Bostic (6-1, 235 pounds) is now one of the Gators' most physically gifted freshmen, but it wasn't always that way, according to Meyer.

"He wasn't that way in high school but you saw the gift," Meyer said. "Coach [Charlie] Strong saw it the whole time."

Like Bostic, Nixon is another player whose early development has been a pleasant surprise. Meyer said that he expected Nixon to be around 280 pounds his freshman season but Nixon began training camp at 300 pounds.

"He's the most advanced of the freshmen," Meyer said. "I'd say there's a chance he'll play this year. Intelligence, maturity, the ability to grasp what is going on. There are other guys -- like Jon Halapio is going to be a great player -- but Xavier is ahead of him. I'm not sure why. He just handles himself much better. We have five linemen and that's rare that you could say, 'Would you take all five linemen again?' And the answer is yes on all five."

The five freshmen offensive linemen are Nixon, Halapio (St. Petersburg Catholic), Jonotthan Harrison (Groveland South Lake), Kyle Koehne (Indianapolis Cathedral) and Nick Alajajian (Naples). Meyer said that Nixon is one of the team's fastest offensive linemen.

"He has developed the right way," Meyer said. "We kind of thought that. When I went and watched him play basketball, you could see first of all he had the athleticism but we didn't anticipate he would be 300 pounds."

Other notes...
Redshirt freshman center Sam Robey isn't performing at the level he did back in the spring, according to Meyer. Robey started at center this spring but has been bumped down the depth chart with the return of offensive linemen Matt Patchan and James Wilson. Wilson, a redshirt sophomore guard, is currently rotating with the first-team offense. Patchan, a sophomore, is starting at left tackle...Sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter has dropped 20 pounds, according to Meyer, and is playing with newfound confidence.



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