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Quick hits from Jim McElwain's pre-spring practice press conference

Florida coach Jim McElwain spoke with reporters for about a half hour Thursday morning to give a preview of spring practice, which begins Thursday. Here are some quick highlights.

Injuries

Seven players will be held out entirely from spring practice as they recover from injuries. They are: OL/DL Antonio Riles (torn ACL), WR Freddie Swain (shoulder), QB Luke Del Rio (non-throwing shoulder), DB Quincy Lenton (foot), DB Jeawon Taylor (shoulder), LB David Reese (wrist) and DL Jordan Sherit (knee). 

In addition to that group, three more players -- receiver Dre Massey, early enrollee linebacker James Houston and defensive back C.J. McWilliams -- will only participate in non-contact drills as they recover from ACL injuries.

The injuries leave Florida with just 56 healthy scholarship players heading into the 15-practice spring schedule, including just seven in the secondary.

Quarterback Competition

The battle for the starting quarterback spot will likely come down to redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask as most expect, but McElwain said early enrollee Kadarius Toney -- listed as an athlete on the roster -- will have some opportunities at quarterback this spring.

The third-year head coach said Thursday he is hoping to add a running element to his quarterback position, something he wasn't able to do much with during last season's SEC Championship run.

"It's something we did a little bit with Austin [Appleby], and yet this gives us a little bit more as we move forward," McElwain said. "I mean, we also had those packages in for Dre Massey that we worked on extensively and were able to use it for one kickoff, right?"

McElwain also added that he is looking to see which young player showcases the natural ability to lead the offense.

"The biggest piece we're looking for first and foremost is somebody to step up and say, 'You know what, I'm going to take this and I'm going to lead this team and help the parts around me play better,'" McElwain said. "Now with that, it can't be forced -- it's got to be natural. And really the understanding of how and what we need to do is really what we're looking for.  ... Whether it's routes on air, the accuracy of the throws and where it needs to be and all those type of things and understanding the importance of every moment means something, take advantage of it."

Position changes

Two scholarship players will be changing position groups this spring. Backup offensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones is moving to the defensive line, while tight end Cam Knight will play linebacker.

In addition, offensive lineman Martez Ivey will slide over to left tackle after primarily playing guard during his first two seasons. Defensive backs Duke Dawson and Chauncey Gardner will open the spring as Florida's primary outside corners. Dawson spent most of his Gators career playing in the nickel, while Gardner was a hybrid corner/nickel/safety as a freshman last season.

New Numbers

Florida's five early enrollees have been given their playing numbers. They are as follows:

Kadarius Toney - 17

James Houston - 41

Kyree Campbell - 55

Kadeem Telfort - 76

Kemore Gamble- 88

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