September 04, 2015

Neal, Ivey downgraded to doubtful for opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida safety Keanu Neal (leg) and left tackle Martez Ivey (knee scope) have been downgraded to doubtful for Saturday’s season-opener against New Mexico State (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).

The two prospective starters haven’t practiced all week.

“They’re recovering at a very good pace, but I right now I’d say doubtful,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

Neal, a junior, was injured in Florida’s scrimmage on Aug. 21, while Ivey, the five-star freshman offensive lineman, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Friday.

Florida will be without another two starters, too, (end Alex McCalister and safety Marcus Maye are both suspended), but McElwain is pleased with his team’s overall outlook entering the first game of the season.

“Coming out of camp I feel pretty good about the health of our guys,” he said. “Hats off to our [strength and conditioning staff] and really our players for what they did this offseason.”


Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins will both coach from the sidelines this season, according to McElwain. … Former Florida All-American center, assistant coach and athletics director Bill Carr will serve as UF’s first honorary “Mr. Two Bits” on Saturday. … Florida has yet to sellout the opener, as plenty of club level tickets remain available. 

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September 03, 2015

UF coach Jim McElwain explains 'Perfect Thursday'

GAINESVILLE -- Jim McElwain is a stickler for details. 

Most successful coaches are. 

After years learning from John L. Smith and Nick Saban, Florida's first-year coach has developed a specific game-week practice plan, so when McElwain tossed around the phrase 'Perfect Thursday' several times during availability Wednesday, everyone wondered what exactly he was talking about. 

McElwain gladly answered the question.

“What it is we hit all situations at a very fast pace. Ball’s not on the ground, guys are hustling, they’ve memorized the first eight [scripted plays for Saturday’s opener]. 

They know the first calls in every situation. A lot of it goes on to the understanding in the player’s mind what to expect. We try to paint a picture for them so when they get into Saturday they’re a step ahead and not in the unknown. 

Coming out goal-line red area, two-point play, third down, all the different situations. We do the same thing in the kicking game at a very quick pace going through the game plan, step-by-step. It’s one of those things that we’ve done for a long time. When the guys kind of figure out what ‘Perfect Thursday’ is, it helps them play faster on Saturday."

Makes sense. 

The Gators host the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday night (7:30, SEC Network) to kickoff the 2015 season.

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September 02, 2015

BREAKING: QB Treon Harris to start Saturday's opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida has finally named a starting quarterback.

Sort of.

Sophomore Treon Harris, a former star at Booker T. Washington, will start in Saturday's season-opener against New Mexico State (7:30 p.m, SEC Network).

“It was really close,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

And the battle isn't over.

Harris (somewhat) surprisingly edged out redshirt freshman Will Grier, who exited spring practice with a slight lead in the competition.

“Somebody has got to take the first snap,” McElwain insisted. 

"I wouldn't read too much into it."

Too late. 

Harris took all the first-team reps during the open fastball periods Tuesday and Wednesday, causing some to wonder if he'd already be tabbed the starter. The sophomore was 4-2 in six starts in 2014, totaling 12 touchdowns while completing just 49 percent of his passes. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is a slippery athlete, but last season's accuracy concerns have persisted in camp.

However, Harris' experience, elusiveness and playmaking skills could provide a steadier presence behind Florida's inexperienced offensive line. 

McElwain also praised Harris’ ability to “affect the people around [him] in a positive way.”

Still, Harris hasn't seized control of the starting job. Grier shined early in training camp before losing his grip on the job. With Wednesday's announcement, Harris simple earned the right to play the first "three or four" series Saturday against the Aggies.  

“Treon’s going to start the football game. Will’s going to play in that game a lot, too," McElwain said.

"It’s a painting in progress. We’ve got to figure out what the backdrop is going to be.”

McElwain didn't reveal his plan to rotate the quarterbacks, but he did say both signal callers have a scripted set of plays for Saturday.

“If a guy is 11 for 11 you’re not going to take the shooter out,” he said.

"Both of them are deserving. Both of them had a really good spring and fall and we're excited about seeing those guys play. … They'll both have their set of first eight and move it kind of that way as we work forward."

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Morrison: "Florida's going to be back on top soon.”

GAINESVILLE -- Antonio Morrison was among former coach Will Muschamp’s staunchest defenders, but the senior linebacker has effusively praised new coach Jim McElwain in recent weeks. 

Early in training camp, Morrison said he was "jealous" of Florida's younger players who will get to play multiple seasons under McElwain. 

On Tuesday, the All-SEC performer, who recently stunned teammates with his rapid recovery from major knee surgery, insisted the program is better positioned for success with McElwain at the helm.

“The changes he’s brought to this program,” Morrison said, acknowledging the newly-constructed indoor practice facility. “This new facility right here, we never had that. Before if it would’ve rained, we’d wait four or five hours and just be getting out to the field at 9 p.m. Having this indoor is great. 

“Everything is going in the right direction. Florida’s going to be back on top soon.”

Senior defensive end Jon Bullard echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Coach [McElwain] wanted to try and change a few things from that year that he seen that he didn’t like. … Right now nobody really fear the Gators and that’s what we want again.”

Florida's program was broken when Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer in 2011. UF players practically mutinied in Muschamp’s early days, but this time around the team has embraced the change in leadership and a new vision.  

The Gators have praised McElwain’s coaching style and have especially lauded Mike Kent’s new strength and conditioning program.

“It’s light years better than what we did in the past,” Morrison said. 

“Guys actually like lifting. We see our bodies growing. We’re putting on weight and guys are getting stronger. We’re going into the weight room ready to go.”

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September 01, 2015

The people have spoken (sort of but not really)

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Blowout looming? Probably. Meet New Mexico State

GAINESVILLE -- The New Mexico State Aggies are the worst team on Florida’s 2015 schedule.


Still, Gators coach Jim McElwain did his best to sell the Aggies as a solid opponent in Monday’s press conference.

It was mostly hot air. 

“They have a lot of returning starters on the both sides of the ball. … I think the important note here is they only gave up nine sacks all of last year. With those guys, obviously the quarterback does a good job getting the ball out of his hand quickly, get it into some playmakers hands. … They had a true freshman running back that had 1,100 yards rushing, and a wide receiver that was all-league form as well. They’ve got some parts coming back on offense and believe in their system. 

“They’re going to play up-tempo, they’re going to try to formation into the boundary. Do some things to try to create some explosive plays on a fast tempo so that’ll be really good for us as we get used to what a lot of people are doing today. You know on the defensive side you know I’d say their strength lies on their linebackers. They’ve got three guys returning that have over 300 tackles. … And when you look at it as a program, the fact that they have a lot of experience coming back is probably pretty important and they won’t be intimidated. They came in and played LSU last year. It’s not something that is big for them.” 

Yes, the Aggies bring back plenty of experience after touting one of the youngest teams in the country in 2014. They return 18 starters -- third-most in the nation, per Phil Steele.

Sophomore Larry Rose III is a solid tailback and junior wideout Teldrick Morgan creates matchup problems outside. 

But, and it’s a major BUT, the team lacks significant depth, size and D-1 talent.

The LSU game McElwain brought up? The Tigers, barely better at offense than UF last season, trounced the Aggies 63-7. 

New Mexico State is 2-20 the last two seasons against FBS teams -- the lone wins coming against 1-11 Idaho in 2013 and 1-11 Georgia State in 2014.

Esteemed college football scribe Bill Connelly called the Aggies “possibly the worst team in the country over the second half of last season” in his preseason preview.

They stunk worse than spoiled milk.

The Aggies lost 10 straight games to end 2014. They touted the nation’s worst rush defense, allowing 6.25 yards per carry and a whopping 308.8 yards per game. 

They led the country in turnovers with 34, as quarterback Tyler Rodgers tossed a nation-leading 23 interceptions.    

They were awful getting off the field on third down (No. 109th nationally). Even Florida bested State in average yards per completion (6.7 to 6.4) last season. 

The Gators -- who still have an ongoing quarterback battle, mind you -- are 37-point favorites. 

Sure, the Aggies should be better in 2015, but Saturday will get ugly.


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August 31, 2015

UF releases Week 1 depth chart with few surprises

GAINESVILLE -- Just five days away from Florida’s opener against New Mexico State, the unranked Gators released their first official depth chart of 2015. 

My prediction earlier in the day…

Some people didn’t get the joke, but alas. 

*************** FLORIDA GATORS WEEK 1 DEPTH CHART ***************

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.46.12 PM


Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.46.26 PM

Florida’s depth chart didn’t yield a ton of surprises other than the news senior linebacker Antonio Morrison is slated to start at MLB. Gators coach Jim McElwain later acknowledged Morrison’s miracle recovery (knee injury) and said the senior would play against the Aggies on Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network). 

With five-star freshman tackle Martez Ivey sidelined, UF’s starting offensive line is what we’ve seen in camp the last few days: (L-R) Mason Halter, Trip Thurman, Cam Dilliard, Antonio Riles and David Sharpe.

Other takeaways include just three OR's (naturally the quarterbacks, backup tailbacks and cornerback spot opposite VH3); little-used safety Nick Washington earning the start with Marcus Maye suspended for the opener; freshman wideout Antonio Callaway earning the nod over junior Chris Thompson; a total of 16 redshirt or true freshmen listed on the two-deep. 

Really, the initial depth chart release is a perfunctory exercise, but it does (at least) confirm much of what I've seen and reported from practice. Still, plenty stands to change as the season progresses. 

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August 30, 2015

Q&A: Florida Gators receiver Brandon Powell

GAINESVILLE -- Converted wideout Brandon Powell stands as Florida’s offensive X-factor this season. 

The former Deerfield Beach star tailback recorded just 217 total yards in 2014, but the sophomore could be the critical piece to revive the Gators’ moribund offense under first-year coach Jim McElwain. 

Recently, Powell spoke on his transition to receiver, the complexity of Florida's new offensive scheme, the financial help of a COA check and more. 


“From training camp we’ve been doing a lot of formations. Lining up in different up in different spots on the field. It’s been a lot, but I've been able to take that challenge to learn everything and it’s been going good this whole camp. … I’m all over the field, you’ll see come Sep. 5. I mean they’ll have me all over the field.” 


“I’m still trying to get a little used to it. You know it’s tough to come here in college and play a whole new position that you’ve never played before. You know I’m just still trying to get used to it. Still a couple of things that I have to learn. I’m just still trying to take some time and learn it until the season starts.”


“You know in the slot you have a lot of linebackers and safeties trying to guard you, and you know coaches they always say, 'If you got a safety on you, you gotta win.’ That’s kind of what I take advantage of when I see a safety or linebacker lined up on me and I try to win.”


“Playing football and all that, you still have to pay your rent and all that stuff, and some people, depending on their family situation, help out back at home, so it kinda helps a lot. You have extra money in your pocket and do the things you want, live like a normal student instead of like an athlete all the time. It kinda helps.”


“Talking to Vernon and everybody after practice, after the scrimmage, they tell some of the routes, ‘This route is hard to cover,’ and this year it’s a lot of different routes than the little corner route or over route we were running last year every play. Coach, he got a lot of good routes for us and plays that are gonna kill some defenses this year. We’re just waiting to put it all together.” 

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August 27, 2015

Five-star freshman OL Martez Ivey "to be scoped"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s paper-thin offensive line can ill-afford any significant setbacks, but the patchwork unit suffered a big blow Thursday.

Five-star freshman Martez Ivey, who was competing for a starting job at left tackle, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday to “clean up a pre-existing” leg injury, coach Jim McElwain said.

Ivey is sidelined indefinitely and his return date is unknown.

“I don’t know how quickly or anything yet,” said McElwain, who refused to offer specifics of the injury.

“It doesn’t appear to be a season-ending thing or anything like that.”

Still, it’s a major loss for a unit counting on the nation’s top offensive line recruit.

Ivey, a 20-year-old freshman, had quickly impressed teammates and coaches with his work ethic and raw talent. The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Apopka standout had recently worked his way into the starting lineup.

Now, sophomore David Sharpe will flip to left tackle and Fordham transfer Mason Halter and freshman Fred Johnson, a West Palm Beach native, will compete for the opening at right tackle.

“It’s a big blow for us,” starting guard Antonio Riles said.

“There are guys who are going to step up. Sharpe plays left and right. Halter plays left and right. I’m pretty sure everybody is going to adjust to it and we’ll be just fine.”

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Foley: O'Dome renovation plans likely finalized soon

GAINESVILLE -- With Florida's $17 million indoor practice facility recently completed, the plans for the school's next major project remain on track. 

Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley said the contract for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center renovation -- delayed a year due to budgeting issues with the project’s initial construction firm -- should be finalized in the near future. 

“We’re getting close. The process now is to finalize the pricing,” Foley said Wednesday. 

“We’re close on that.” 

Florida -- both the school and University Athletic Association -- is negotiating with Brasfield & Gorrie, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company. UF has earmarked roughly $60 million for the O'Dome renovations -- which include overhauled concourses, renovated concession stands and club seating -- but is seeking a more managable budget. 

“I would say once that pricing gets set and once we’re set, meaning the contract to the University and Athletic Association, here’s the pricing, we’re OK with the schedule, then we’ll let the world know,” Foley said. 

“I think we’re close to being able to let the world know. We’re just not there yet. I would hope in the next three weeks maybe, a month or so, we can tell people this is what pricing is going to be, this is the timetable. I can tell you it’s going to happen. That I can tell you.”

The plan remains to begin construction in March 2016, with the goal of completing the renovation in time for Florida’s conference schedule in early January 2017. 

“That’s the same time frame. I don’t expect any snafus,” Foley said. 

“I’m confident about that. Now that being said, until everything is signed, you don’t have a done deal. Like any contract until it’s signed you don’t have a done deal. I’m very confident where we’re headed. Very confident.”  

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August 25, 2015

UF places five on coaches' preseason All-SEC teams

GAINESVILLE -- All-American cornerback Veron Hargreaves III is among five Florida Gators named to the 2015 preseason All-SEC coaches' teams. 

The junior cornerback, a two-time all-conference honoree, is UF’s sole representative on the first team, released by the league Tuesday

Seniors Jonathan Bullard, a versatile defensive lineman, and linebacker Antonio Morrison, an All-SEC performer in 2014 after leading UF in tackles with 101, were named to the coaches’ second team defense. 

With Dante Fower Jr. off to the NFL, Bullard is expected to anchor Florida’s young but promising defensive line. Meanwhile, Morrison remains sidelined with knee injury sustained in the team’s bowl game and his status for the season is unknown. 

After the league’s media refused to vote a Florida offensive player to its preseason teams last month, the Gators placed a pair of offensive players on the coaches’ third-team: junior tailback Kelvin Taylor and junior wideout Demarcus Robinson. 

Last season, Robinson was Florida’s most productive receiver since 2009, recording 53 catches for 810 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Taylor averaged just 4.7 yards per carry in 2014, but is eyeing a breakout season as Florida’s No. 1 tailback.   

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August 22, 2015

UF's Jim McElwain: Enough with the selfish penalties

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Jim McElwain is fed up with the Gators’ penalty problems.

UF ranked last in the SEC in three of the last four years in flags per game, never finishing higher than 89th nationally during the Will Muschamp era. 

During Friday’s second preseason scrimmage, McElwain ejected an unnamed defensive tackle for committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

McElwain expressed his frustrations over the incident, even taking a swipe at Muschamp and UF’s lack of on-field discipline in recent seasons. 

“I kicked [a player] out of the scrimmage. That’s not how it works. He’s gone. That’s the way it is. Those are the unforced errors that have been the Achilles heel for a long time around here,” McElwain said. 

“I’m tired of it.”

He continued: “If that’s the way you’re going to act, go sit on the bench. Somebody else can play. I was very upset about that. … We’ve got some behavior that we’ve got to keep working on. What are we? The most penalized team in the last five years, six years, whatever it is? “It’s ridiculous.”

Penalties played a role in several of Florida’s brutal defeats last season, so when McElwain took over the program in January he immediately made it known players would be held accountable for selfish mistakes. 

"That’s one of the first things he said, in the first team meeting he said we need to clean up penalties," sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor explained. 

"With all the penalties we had, we’re giving teams the game. Last year we had a holding penalty when Treon [Harris] scored against South Carolina. If we don’t get that penalty, the ball game’s won. We get a 3rd and [17] against LSU, they're coming out. Just little penalties like that, and they end up winning the game."

McElwain did say Friday’s incident was a rarity during training camp, calling it "a teachable moment." 

“I’ve been around some really good coaches, obviously, and that’s something you don’t see by great football teams,” he said. 

“That’s not how they act. They play hard between the whistles the way the game’s supposed to be played, and they don’t bring attention to themselves. That’s just what we believe in and how we’re going to run the program.” 

NOTE: UF’s penalty problems predate Muschamp. The 2008 National Champion Florida Gators ranked second to in the SEC -- and 96th nationally -- in penalties. In fact, recently some of the country’s top teams have also been the most penalized (see: Baylor, Oregon, UCLA).  

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August 21, 2015

Safety Keanu Neal injured in UF's second scrimmage

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators starting safety Keanu Neal was injured in Friday’s scrimmage and did not return.

The junior safety, a veteran linchpin in UF’s acclimated secondary, hurt his leg but was not carted off the field.

Gators coach Jim McElwain didn’t believe the injury was serious.

“He didn’t finish the scrimmage. It was something in his leg. We’ll see. Our trainers and medical staff do a great job. They’ll get him ready. I’ll let you know as we go — I think Monday or Tuesday. I’ll have a better idea.”

Late Friday evening Neal tweeted:

Meanwhile, Freshman safety Kylan Johnson also suffered a leg injury during the scrimmage and tackle Kavaris Harkless exited practice with an ankle injury. Sophomore safety Marcell Harris sustained a shot to the ribs, but is “OK,” per McElwain.

Sixth-year senior tight end Jake McGee was held out of the scrimmage due to a foot ailment.

On the bright side, McElwain said several banged up players are close to returning. 

“We’re starting to get some guys back, that’s really the good thing,” he said.

“We’ll get [Travaris] Dorsey back here the beginning of next week, that’s gonna help us. We should get [Valdez] Showers and [Raphael] Andrades back as well. They’re battling some strings there in the back in their leg, those guys should be ready to go.”

McElwain didn’t mention wideout C.J. Worton, but fellow receiver Alvin Bailey said Worton is back practicing and is full-contact.

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Three Florida Gators suspended for season opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida suspended three players, including a pair of defensive starters, for its Sep. 5 opener against New Mexico State.

Defensive end Alex McCalister, safety Marcus Maye and wideout Latroy Pittman will all miss the opener “due to University Athletic Association policy,” the school announced Friday.

McCalister, a redshirt junior, stands as Florida’s top returning pass rusher, recording six sacks and nine tackles for loss in a reserve role in 2014.

Maye, also a redshirt junior, started nine games last season and finished third on the team in tackles with 62.

Pittman, a senior backup receiver, was also suspended the first three games to open the 2013 season.

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August 19, 2015

Florida's 2015-16 basketball schedule finalized

GAINESVILLE -- The SEC released its 2016 men’s basketball schedules Wednesday, finalizing Florida’s 2015-16 slate on a SEC Network special.  

ESPN is betting big on new coach Michael White, as UF will play seven Super Tuesday games. The Gators also face at least eight 2014-15 NCAA Tournament teams. 

In all, UF will play a home-and-home series with Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gators will also host Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State, while traveling to Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M and South Carolina.  

For the first time since 2011, Florida will close out its regular-season slate against a team other than Kentucky (at Missouri).  The Gators do finish their home schedule with a mid-week date with the Wildcats for Senior Day.  

*************** Florida’s complete 2015-16 schedule ***************

Nov. 13 - at Navy (Veteran’s Classic) - 9:30 p.m., CBS Sports

Nov. 16 - vs. North Carolina A&T

Nov. 21 - vs. St. Joe’s (HoF Tip-Off Classic) - 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 22 - vs. Purdue or Old Dominion (HoF Tip-Off Classic)

Nov. 25 - vs. Vermont 

Nov. 27 - vs. Florida Gulf Coast 

Dec. 8 - at Miami - 7 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 12 - at Michigan State - 6 p.m., ESPN2

Dec. 19 - vs. Oklahoma State (Orange Bowl Classic)

Dec. 22 - Jacksonville

Dec. 29 - Florida State - 7 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 2 - Georgia - 8 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 6 - ar Tennessee - 7 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 9 - LSU - TBA, CBS

Jan. 12 - at Texas A&M - 7 p.m., ESPN

Jan. 16 - at Ole Miss - 8 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 19 - Mississippi State - 7 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 23 - Auburn - 8 p.m., SEC Network

Jan. 26 - at Vanderbilt - 9 p.m., ESPN 

Jan. 30 - vs. West Virginia (SEC/BIG 12 Challenge) 

Feb. 3 - Arkansas - 7 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 6 - at Kentucky - 4 p.m., CBS

Feb. 9 - Ole Miss - 9 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 13 - Alabama - 5:30 p.m., SEC Network

Feb 16 - at Georgia - 9 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 20 - at South Carolina - 12 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 23 - Vanderbilt - 7 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 27 - LSU - TBA, ESPN

March 1 - Kentucky - 7 p.m., ESPN

March 5 - at Missouri - 7:30 p.m., SEC Network 

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August 18, 2015

Florida enters critical juncture of training camp

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators are in the dog days of training camp, but coach Jim McElwain was ecstatic about the team’s latest performance in Sunday’s two-a-day session.

“There was some real spark there,” he said.

“Yesterday’s two-a-day was as good a back-to-back practices I’ve ever seen. The energy. The attention to detail. The guys really came out prepared. We had a great night practice in full pads.”

The Gators are halfway through preseason practices, and entering Week 3 McElwain is emphasizing a sense of urgency at what he considers the most critical juncture of camp.

“The novelty of the new season, the fresh new uniforms you’ve got have now been washed a whole bunch,” he said.

“Sometimes the guys’ focus on detail starts to slip as their bodies are really sore and they get tired and the monotony of the every-day kind of takes in. We’re really looking to where our leadership moves us forward to where we make a big huge push week rather than just a settle for average week.”

McElwain has stressed details and daily improvement ever since arriving in Gainesville, and he said this could be Florida’s make or break week.

“At this point in camp is really when a lot of teams decide they're either really going to get better or they're going to try to just endure to get through the grind of what is two-a-days. …We’re kind of getting to that separation point moving forward.”

With the team battling fatigue, redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier said Florida’s sole focus is to “keep this thing rolling, keep getting better. This is that time where you have to push through that wall and not fall off, keep getting better. That's the main thing we're focusing on right now, everybody really."

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August 15, 2015

UF's 2015 class: Guesses at who will and won't play

GAINESVILLE -- With a depleted roster, a number true freshmen will play key roles for the Florida Gators this season. 

UF coach Jim McElwain hasn’t been shy embracing the team’s youth movement, but the new coach also insists he won’t simply burn a redshirt season for limited snaps. 

“My deal is if we’re going to play them, they’re going to play,” he said.

“Whether it’s significant on every single special teams and in certain series on defense and offense. I think you can probably look at the depth or just the numbers at the position, there will be a lot of young guys probably playing and kind of philosophically if they’re ready and can help the football team and play valuable reps they’re going to play. If they’re not and need some seasoning then we’ll go ahead and redshirt [them].”

Florida scrimmaged for the first time this preseason on Friday, and McElwain said he and the staff will begin honing the depth chart after its second scrimmage next week. 

 “After the second scrimmage you’re usually able to know which guys kind of work in,” he said.

“It really comes down to their value on special teams. Moving forward, that’s how you make a roster.” 

Based on watching practice and talking to coaches/players, here’s a breakdown of where the 2015 class stands with three weeks before the team's Sept. 5 opener. 


Martez Ivey, offensive tackle

Jordan Scarlett, tailback

CeCe Jefferson, defensive end

Antonio Callaway, receiver

Jordan Cronkite, tailback

Rayshad Jackson, linebacker

Tyler Jordan, center/guard

***** Ivey, Jefferson and Scarlett will all see significant snaps, while Callaway, Cronkite and Jordan have already worked their way into their prospective positional rotations. Jackson should be a special teams stud. 


Fred Johnson, offensive tackle

Nick Buchanan, offensive tackle

Chris Williamson, cornerback

***** Both offensive linemen are currently taking reps with the second-unit. Williamson won’t see much PT at cornerback but should be another special teams contributor. 


T.J. McCoy, center/guard

Jabari Zuniga, defensive end

Dylan Johnson, safety

Kalif Jackson, receiver 

***** The question here is opportunity. McCoy has impressed in camp, but Jordan, Johnson and Buchanan have all been better. Zuniga could play, too, but Florida probably doesn’t need him right now. Johnson and Jackson are wild cards candidates for special teams snaps.  


Brandon Sandifer, offensive guard

Andrew Ivie, defensive tackle

Camrin Knight, tight end

Richerd Desir-Jones, defensive tackle

Keivonnis Davis, defensive end

Luke Ancrum, defensive end

***** There's potential with this group, but also lots of development needed.

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August 13, 2015

UF's pair of five-star recruits already making impact

GAINESVILLE -- Two of Florida’s blue-chip signees are already living up to their five-star billings early in training camp. 

Gators offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson have quickly impressed teammates and coaches with their work ethic, maturity and raw talent. 

“Martez Ivey is a freak,” junior tailback Kelvin Taylor said. 

“He’s going to be great. He wasn’t a five-star for nothing, trust me. He’s physical. He’s smart. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a load. He’s going to be really good.”

Ivey, the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect according to 247Sports, is 6-5, 300-pounds and is competing for snaps at both tackle positions. 

Meanwhile, Jefferson, a fellow five-star freshman, has also awed teammates with his athleticism and relentless motor. 

“He’s showing grit,” junior safety Keanu Neal said. “He’s showing work. He’s showing that he can make plays.”

Jefferson sat out most of his senior season at Baker County High with a shoulder injury, but the 6-1, 280-pound pass rusher is healthy now and already wreaking havoc in camp. 

“He’s one of the young guys doing a heck of a job,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.  

“He shows up. … I’m sure glad that he’s here. He’s a guy that can make an impact. He’s a guy that’s eager to learn, jumped right in at everything we’re doing. That just speaks volumes of the type of kid he is, too.”

******************** BONUS QUOTES ********************

Here’s several snippets on Jefferson and Ivey that didn’t make the short piece. 

“You could tell, just his demeanor. Just the way he carries himself around the locker room. He’s quiet. He gets his work done. He goes about the next play. The guy’s very mature, man. He’s going to be a really good one. Just remember I told you that. He’s going to be a really good one, trust me.”

- Kelvin Taylor, on not being surprised by Ivey’s rapid progression early in camp…

“CeCe’s stepping up as kind of like a young Jon Bullard. … Martez is definitely going to be something special here at Florida I believe, just based on how big he is. He’s huge, and he’s definitely wanting to learn as well. A lot of guys think they’re just going to roll into the position, but Martez is a guy who wants to learn the position, wants to be the guy at left tackle. He’s going to be pretty good.”

- Trip Thurman, on both five-star freshmen…

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August 10, 2015

Q&A: Florida Gators OL Trip Thurman

GAINESVILLE -- Fifth-year senior Trip Thurman is Florida’s lone offensive linemen to start a Division-1 football game. 

Yea, Thurman is rather important heading into the 2015 season. 

The versatile senior sat out spring practice resting a chronic shoulder injury, but Thurman said he’s as healthy as can be and is embracing his leadership role for an extremely inexperienced unit

Thurman is cross-training at all five position along the line, but he’s likely start at either left guard or center. 

Recently, the senior spoke about his health, his adoration for position coach Mike Summers, his expectations for blue chip freshman Martez Ivey and more.  

On his shoulder… 

“It feels great. No problems at all. This offseason was key and taking out the spring was a big thing for me. I really appreciate Coach [Jim] McElwain looking out for me and my well-being.” 

On McElwain retaining OL coach Mike Summers…

"It was huge for me. I really enjoy working with coach Summers and he’s a great guy. I say he’s one of the best in the country, so it was great to have him back. … He is a great technician. Being in the right position in the O-line is key. You can be the strongest guy or the weakest guy, but if you have hands inside and you’re taking the correct footwork that’s key to playing offensive line.” 

On Summers’ nickname…

“Little bass? He loves to bass fish. He’s done it back home in his home state of Kentucky, him and Coach [Greg] Nord. I’ve heard Coach Mac call him ‘Little Bass’ a couple of times. I’m assuming Coach Nord is ‘Big Bass.’ Those guys are two peas in a pod. They go bass fishing almost every weekend they have off.”

On five-star freshman Martez Ivey…

“Physically he’s a specimen. He’s a big guy coming in as a true freshman (6-6, 290). He’s going to be a big part of this offensive line moving forward. He and Tyler Jordan have stood out because they want to learn. They are in the meeting room with me and Coach Summers going over plays, being ready to go come the practice time.” 

On the importance of continuity with such an inexperienced group…

“We need everybody on the same page. Last year, fall camp was big for us with the older guys getting everybody on the same page. That’s really key. Five guys working together doing the same thing.” 

On David Sharpe’s athleticism… 

“It’s very rare. You see about one in a dozen every year. He’s a pretty big guy (6-6, 355). He’s a guy who’s gonna be key for us this year as a tackle. He’s been stepping up and he needs to work on the mental part of the game as well, everybody does. When that heat hits you, we all need to dig deep and stay focused.” 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 09, 2015

The Birmingham Bowl MVP transferring from Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida running back Adam Lane propelled the Gators to their final win last season, but the Birmingham Bowl MVP won’t suit up for UF again. 

Lane asked for and received a release from his scholarship just four days into training camp, the school announced Sunday. 

"Adam Lane has some family issues that he is dealing with and wants to be closer to home,'' coach Jim McElwain said in a statement. 

"As you've heard me say many times family comes first in this program and we will grant him his release and we will do everything we can do to help him."

Lane, a 5-7, 226-pound battering ram, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in Florida’s 28-20 win over East Carolina. 

Last season, the redshirt sophomore struggled to crack the tailback rotation under former coach Will Muschamp. Then this spring, Lane missed a majority of camp due to a quad injury, drawing the ire of McElwain. 

Still, Lane, who was likely third on Florida's depth chart, was optimistic he would be a factor in the fall. 

"I just want to go out there everyday and compete and get a spot,” Lane said at UF’s media days Wednesday. 

“That's the main goal. When you have everybody competing that's when you get great things. … I just want to take every opportunity like it's my last. I just want to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities."

With Lane’s departure, Florida will count on a pair of freshman tailbacks from South Florida. Former Army All-Americans Jordan Scarlett (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Jordan Cronkite (Westminster) should see ample carries relieving starter Kelvin Taylor this season. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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