September 01, 2015

The people have spoken (sort of but not really)

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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 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 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. 

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August 06, 2015

Florida media day: Nuggets, Notes & Quotes. Oh my!

GAINESVILLE -- Here's a bunch of nuggets, notes & quotes from UF's media day Wednesday. The Gators open training camp this afternoon -- their first of 29 practices before their opener Sept. 5 against New Mexico State. 


Let’s get the skepticism out of the way first: Just like every offseason, the summer reports were GLOWING. Everyone is better, bigger, faster, stronger, nicer, etc. Team bonding is at an all-time high! Egos are gone! Everyone is committed to winning!

Now, these reports are hardly unique to Florida, but the Gators have cried wolf so many times the last several years that some things are best left unsaid. Still, plenty of things said yesterday were notable. Like... 


Following a frustrating sophomore season, tailback Kelvin Taylor said he has “a really big chip on [his] shoulder.” The junior is motivated to prove why he was “one of the top running backs coming out of high school.” 

Taylor has clearly added muscle in his upper body and spent the summer working on catching the ball out of the backfield and hand-placement in pass protection. 

“I'm just looking forward to being the man this year,” he said.

"I want to be the lead back. Being the lead back, being a leader for just for like me going into the season being like the lead back I'm just so thankful and ready to show everyone I can take on that responsibility and the bulk of carries. Now I got that chance and I'm probably [the most] focused I've ever been. Just now I'm ready to show everyone I can be the man and that I will be the man this year. I'm ready." 


Sixth-year senior tight end Jake McGee is 100% healthy and has “no issues whatsoever” from his broken leg last season. McGee hasn’t recorded a catch since Nov. 30, 2013, but the senior is expected to be a valuable weapon in UF’s passing game in 2015. 

In two seasons at Virginia, McGee was a third-down machine, tallying 27 catches for 299 yards and six touchdowns on the money down. 

“I’ve always sort of been known as a clutch player,” he said. 

“Third down, big situations in the game you always want the ball. It’s something you want to help the team with moving the chains or game-winning touchdowns, whatever it is. It’s one of those things when you want to step up and make an impact.”


A number of veterans identified four freshmen they think will absolutely contribute this season: DE CeCe Jefferson, OT Martez Ivey, WR Antonio Callaway and LB Rayshad Jackson. 

McElwain noted that Ivey will begin at tackle, saying, “that's where we recruited him to play.” 

Jackson -- a three-star Miami Norland standout -- was mentioned by several players as guy who can help a unit desperate for depth. 

Freshmen tailbacks Jordan Scarlett (Taylor called him fast and strong) and Jordan Cronkite also received praise, as did newbie defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga. 

5. B.D.N. 

Geoff Collins’ motto for the defense is B.D.N. - as in Best Defense in the Nation. Posters are plastered all over the locker room and Bryan Cox Jr. said wristbands could be on the way, too.

According to players, Collins hasn’t changed much of anything with the scheme of the defense, but he is emphasizing pressure and playmakers. He’s also brought a certain energy to a loaded unit. 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right.? It wasn’t broke,” safety Keanu Neal said.  


Junior safety Marcus Maye spoke extensively about the depth and talent in UF’s secondary. DBU has received a lot of internet play this offseason, but Maye was more excited about the overall growth and maturity of a “veteran” unit. 

Maye said the group has set “really high expectations” because “we’ve seen each other grow. We’ve grown with each other. … It all should correlate [to success] when we get on the field.”

He dismissed any jealousy concerns over playing time or starting roles, and instead teased a mass exodus to the NFL next season. 

“Four or five leaving is definitely a possibility. There’s a few guys that if they have a great year, they’ll move on to the next level. It’s been a journey.” 


Redshirt sophomore Caleb Brantley is considered a potential breakout star, but the powerfully quick defensive tackle said he had high expectations last season but simply wasn’t afforded the opportunity to shine. 

“I feel like I was ready last year but I only played like 15 snaps a game,” he said. 

“I didn’t really get a chance. I’m playing a lot this year and I’m ready to show the world.”

Brantley, along with ends Alex McCalister and Bryan Cox Jr., didn’t shy away from expressing glee in a new position coach. Brad Lawing, now at Florida State, is a renowned technician and cursing hard-ass, but the group feels much more comfortable with new assistant Chris Rumph. 

"Lawing was way stricter, man,” Brantley said. “Rumph is more of a let it rip and go make a play.” 

Added McCalister: “Rumph is more of a father figure first and then a coach. He’s going to talk to you make sure everything’s straight. He’s never going to curse at you; he’s going to yell his butt off, but he never curse at you. You get it more with Coach Rumph because he’s laid back, but he knows how to bring the heat with it. … It’s just a different type of coaching coming from him. I’ve never had this before in a coach. It’s kind of cool." 


Antonio Morrison’s knee rehab is ahead of schedule, but the All-SEC senior linebacker still isn’t guaranteed to play in 2015. 

Morrison, who started 12 games last season and led UF in tackles, suffered a significant knee injury in Florida’s win in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3. He’s had two surgeries since the injury and there’s no timetable for his return. 

The details of Morrison’s injury remain clouded, and the senior shared his reluctance to talk about the injury. 

“My parents don’t want that information disclosed,” he said, bluntly. 

“I feel like y’all don’t need to know that. It’s not helping me in any way. My parents felt that way, and they don’t want to release any of that information. We kept it in. We got the training staff with the guys on our team. That’s how it was.” 


McElwain hopes to settle on an eight-man rotation by the end of training camp.

UF will cross-train a number of players, most notably, senior Trip Thurman, the only linemen on the roster with a single career start in FBS. Transfer Mason Halter will play at tackle, exclusively, and while Cam Dillard seems poised to start at center, he said he’s also training at both guard positions. 

“What we need to do is develop eight solid guys,” originally,” McElwain said. “It’s a little bit like an NFL mentality where some guys have to be able to swing in some positions.”


McCalister called Brantley “a young Sharrif Floyd.” The defensive end also said he wants double-digit sacks this year to beat his best friend Dante Fowler’s 8.5 quarterback takedowns from a year ago. … WR Demarcus Robinson is eyeing “at least” 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. … Latroy Pittman said it’s “way past due, way past due” to bring an explosive offense back to UF. … Sophomore defensive back Quincy Wilson called last season a learning experience, but said now everything feels “like high school again.” … Co-DC Randy Shannon said the best 11 players will play on defense -- regardless of position. Shannon said UF could line up four DT or play three outside linebackers -- “The best players will play,” he said. … David Sharpie -- at 6-6, 350+ pounds -- is a massive man. … McElwain called star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III "arguably" the best defensive player in the country. 

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August 05, 2015

Florida Gators football: 2015 training camp primer

GAINESVILLE -- It. Is. Time. 

Florida opens training camp tomorrow, exactly a month before its opener against lowly New Mexico State on Sept. 5. 

First-year coach Jim McElwain & Co. will address a room full of hacks later today, but before UF hosts its annual Media Day, here’s a primer on UF’s training camp, including position battles to watch, storylines to follow and more. 


No. Barring a shocking change of heart, McElwain, like most coaches, prefers practices closed. Reporters will be permitted to view certain “open periods” throughout the fall, though.

Fans will have their chance to interact with the team, take pictures and get autographs on Aug. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. during Florida’s annual Fan Day. 


Well … probably not. Two crews are working day and night to get the $17 million facility completed, and Florida desperately wants to utilize the facility as fast as it can with the amount of buckets dropping in Rainsville lately. 

At SEC Media Days in mid-July, McElwain suggested the IPF was ahead of schedule and that the team “would get to go ahead and spend a couple hours in there as we go through two-a-days this fall.” That won’t be the case, but on Tuesday, UF released a video update, announcing that the IPF “could be completed” as early as Aug. 22 -- right after two-a-days are over.  

The facility was initially projected for completion sometime in late September, so even if the latest reports are rather optimistic, the IPF should be available by the time the season officially starts on Sept. 5. Florida will hold 29 practices prior to its opener. 


Obviously, the competition for the starting quarterback gig is THE storyline. Redshirt freshman Will Grier exited the spring ahead of Treon Harris, and it would truly be surprising if Grier (who has the size, arm strength and mobility best suited for McElwain’s preferred scheme) didn’t win the job outright.

Now, it will be interesting to see if Florida keeps Harris involved in the offense or if the sophomore is simply relegated to traditional backup duty.

Aside from the quarterback battle, how will the offensive line shake out? Graduate transfer Mason Halter was a key addition, but it remains to be seen if he’s starter material or will serve as Florida’s swing tackle. Furthermore, can sixth-year senior Trip Thurman stay healthy (chronic shoulder injury) and is five-star freshman Martez Ivey ready for primetime immediately?

Other competitions to watch are the tailback rotation, linebacker depth chart and who plays where exactly in Florida’s deep and talented secondary. 


A year ago, Jake McGee was anointed Jordan Reed 2.0 during training camp, but a broken leg nearly ended the tight end’s UF career before it ever started. Now, the sixth-year senior is healthy and expected to serve as a featured target and key weapon in McElwain’s offense. Can he fulfill those lofty expectations?

Ivey (as mentioned above) is UF’s most important newbie, but over the next month, the Gators will find out if guys like CeCe Jefferson (DE), Jordan Scarlett (RB), Antonio Callaway (WR) and Tyler Jordan (C) can be difference makers right away, too.

Special teams doomed UF in a number of games last season (Missouri, South Carolina), so will they improve under a new regime? Will there be in added emphasis on blocking kicks again? Who will serve as the main returners?


Florida’s defensive line is talented … but raw and young. Caleb Brantley and Taven Bryan posses a good blend of power and speed inside -- especially as pass rushers -- but it remains to be seen if they’re capable of consistently clogging the middle and stopping the run.

Alex Anzalone has been heralded as a breakout candidate, but 2015 could be the year Jarrad Davis shines as the team’s top linebacker.

Lastly, a broken hand sidetracked C.J. Worton’s freshman season, but the shifty wideout shined during the spring and could emerge as a viable secondary target opposite Demarcus Robinson. 


To get better -- daily. It’s a simply adage, but for a team with so many unknowns, it rings true. Florida’s entire 2015 season -- from training camp until its finale against Florida State -- should be about steady improvement.

As the esteemed Bill Connelly explained in his extensive season preview, the Gators can beat or lose to anybody in 2015. This team could snap its 28-game winning streak against Kentucky and it could beat a top-10 foe.

The Gators’ focus should be “figuring out what [they’ve] got on offense, figuring out [their] next generation on defense, winning a big game or two, and winning the fans back.”

It ain’t sexy, but slow and steady progress rarely is. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 04, 2015

Florida hype video: "A storm is brewing in Gainesville"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida released a hype video Tuesday promoting the program’s new direction (and hope), building buzz before training camp opens Thursday. 

The “New Regime” video was well-produced (aside from an odd narration choice) and includes highlights and clips from past and present moments. The four-minute piece ends with the narrator saying, “I see a storm brewing in Gainesville.”

Check it out. 

The Gators report for training camp Wednesday (also UF’s annual Media Day), with their opener against New Mexico State slated for Sept. 5. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 27, 2015

Monday Musings: Florida's recruiting after FNL

GAINESVILLE -- Florida wrapped up its annual recruiting extravaganza over the weekend, and the success of this year’s Friday Night Lights has recruits looking at the Gators like...

In a three day span, UF netted five commitments -- (in order): 2016 defensive back Quincy Lenton, 2017 wideout Daquon Green, 2016 center Brent Hegie, 2016 linebacker Jeremiah Moon and 2016 quarterback Kyle Trask -- and generated exciting buzz with a number of other top-100 prospects. 

The Gators nabbed some recruiting momentum, but can they keep it during a transition season? 

In February, first-year coach Jim McElwain capped his inaugural recruiting class with a pair of five-star standouts (Martez Ivey, CeCe Jefferson). He proved he could fill out a class quickly, but nearly as important, he planted the Gators flag back in South Florida.

UF closed with a number of key prospects from the area (wideout Antonio Callaway and tailbacks Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite), reopening a pipeline with former Miami coach Randy Shannon leading the pillaging.  

With fall camp just around the corner (August 6), the summer evaluation/camp period is over. A couple of takeaways following Florida’s fruitful FNL. 


The Gators continue to strengthen their position in South Florida. Case in point:

Not only is UF targeting uncommitted South Florida prospects, the Gators are openly aiming to poach a number of Miami Hurricane commits. 

Florida’s 2016 class already includes six prospects from South Florida, including wideout Joshua Hammond, linebacker Vosean Joseph and wideout Isaiah Johnson. 

Three of UF’s four 2017 verbal commitments -- highlighted by top 2017 quarterback Jake Allen -- hail from Miami-Dade or Broward County. 

McElwain's plan is taking shape. 

The state is stocked with playmakers (especially receivers in the 2016 and 2017 classes) and the Gators have (seemingly) positioned themselves well with South Florida wideouts Binjimen Victor and Sam Bruce (a Miami commit) -- both players who traveled to FNL with Allen. Florida is also surging (per 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions) with four-star wideout Calvin Ridley (Deerfield Beach). 

Meanwhile, UF hosted a bevy of other prospects from the area, including 2017 wideout Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield Beach) and 2016 defensive target McArthur Burnett (Pahokee).

Florida's is building its foundation for the future almost exclusively from the fertile area.


Make no mistake, Florida’s 2016 class is critical in resuscitating the program. UF can ill-afford failing further behind the rest of the SEC, especially as rivals Tennessee, Georgia and LSU continue to recruit as well as any school in the country. 

Florida currently ranks 14th nationally -- fifth in the SEC -- according to 247Sports.

If the Gators can snag a commitment from any of the aforementioned South Florida studs, as well as four-star defensive end Antonneous Clayton or even five-star defensive end Shavar Manuel (who surprisingly named UF in his top 3), their rankings will undoubtably rise. 

But UF is in an interesting position heading to the fall because of its early strategy in the 2016 class: mining for diamonds in the rough.

Florida turned heads this spring hauling unheralded (or unknown) after unheralded prospect. Recruiting rankings are an inexact science, but they continue to get better and UF appears to be betting big on its staff’s developmental potential.

That’s not necessarily the wrong approach, just an interesting one for Florida.

Considering UF's current position in the league, can it afford to gamble on so many projects (like signing a quarterback who doesn’t even start in high school)? We'll see. 

Depending on some roster gymnastics (normal attrition, early NFL departures, early enrollees counting backwards, etc.), Florida probably has room to sign around 25 guys in 2016. Obviously, McElwain & Co. will nail down an exact number, but it’s a fluid process and semi-complicated by the fact UF already has 18 commits -- 15 rated three-stars or lower. 

The Gators exit the summer with lots of recruiting mojo, so it bears watching how many of their early commits actually end up in Gainesville or if they’re processed for new highly targeted prospects.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 26, 2015

Gators WR Alvin Bailey jailed for outstanding warrant

GAINESVILLE -- After a mostly quiet offseason, it's suddenly the summer of scofflaws at Florida. 

A day after news broke that Caleb Brantley and Adam Lane’s failed to pay a bowling alley tab, redshirt sophomore wideout Alvin Bailey was arrested and spent nearly five hours in Hillsborough County jail Saturday evening after failing to appear in court for an outstanding traffic offense. 

Bailey was cited May 4 for knowingly driving with a suspended license -- his second suspended license offense -- and when the wideout missed his scheduled court arraignment on June 9, a warrant was issued for his arrest. 

The Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman first reported Bailey’s arrest, noting that the 20-year-old was released from jail on $5,000 bond around 10 p.m. 

Bailey has yet to record a catch at Florida, mainly playing special teams last season. Like Brantley and Lane, his case will likely result in simple restitution and some quality time with the The Swamp’s steps.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 25, 2015

Brantley, Lane cited for second-degree misdemeanors

GAINESVILLE -- A pair of Florida football players allegedly dined and dashed left Splitz Bowling Alley without paying their tabs on July 4 and were charged with “defrauding an innkeeper for under 300 dollars,” according to Alachua County court records

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office issued warrant affidavits for UF tailback Adam Lane and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley on July 22, as both players were cited with second-degree misdemeanors. 

Per the court records, Lane and Brantley allegedly entered the bowling alley around 8:55 p.m. and then left around 9:45 p.m. without paying. Brantley’s tab was $42.34, while Lane’s was $16.93. 

Neither player has been arrested and the case will likely result in simple restitution, some community service and a bunch of running for being stupid. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

#FNL proves profitable as UF nabs three commits

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s recruiting showcase Friday Night Lights -- now a three-day event -- wraps up Saturday with a camp strictly for offensive and defensive linemen, and UF hopes Friday's momentum continues into the weekend. 

First-year coach Jim McElwain nabbed three commitments (or more??) Friday, including a pair of pledges before the event even got started. 

Four-star defensive back Qunicy Lenton was the first to commit to UF. Lenton, who hails from Meridian, Mississippi, was originally committed to Mississippi State when Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was still on the Bulldogs’ staff. 

Later, UF landed its fourth commitment for the 2017 cycle, as standout wideout Daquon Green tweeted his announcement.

Green (Tampa Bay Tech) is a 6-1 burner who shredded defenses as a sophomore. The playmaking wideout considered one of the top receivers in the 2017 class and could be a potential five-star talent. 

Hours later, three-star center Brett Heggie verbally committed to Florida. According to 247Sports, Heggie is the sixth-best center in the 2016 class. 

McElwain tweeted out his famous #ChompChomp bat signal later in the evening -- only the tweet contained four chomps.

Many recruiting analysts predict Hoover, Ala. linebacker Jeremiah Moon is the secret pledge, but he told The Gainesville Sun he had not committed... yet. 

Perhaps the mystery recruit will be revealed later today. 

******************** UPDATE ********************

Moon it is. The four-star outside linebacker becomes the 17th commitment in Florida's 2016 class. 

Stay tuned. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 24, 2015

Florida grants DT Jay-nard Bostwick his release

GAINESVILLE -- Florida redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick is no longer with the program. 

247Sports’ Thomas Goldkamp first reported the news on Friday, and later, Florida confirmed the story. 

Bostwick -- who missed spring practice due to “personal issues" -- has been granted his release and is free to transfer to another school. 

The 6-foot-3, 283-pound tackle redshirted in 2013 before playing sparingly last season. He was suspended for the Florida’s opener against Idaho and recorded just three tackles and zero sacks in five games the rest of the season. 

At SEC Media Days last week, UF coach Jim McElwain was asked of Bostwick’s status with the team, responding, “He’s dealing with some things that he needs taken care of. We’ll see how that goes. Personal things in guys’ lives. We’re going to help him deal with those.” 

Not including NFL departures, Bostwick is the sixth player to leave the program since McElwain took over as coach in December. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 21, 2015

McElwain cycles through first ESPN "Car Wash"

Jim McElwain completed his first ESPN “car wash” on Tuesday. 

The perfunctory cycle didn't yield anything particularly revelatory.   

Florida’s first-year coach spent the day in Bristol, Connecticut continuing to stay on message -- answering a bevy of questions by not saying much of anything. 

McElwain appeared on a number of the network’s platforms, including live stops at First Take, The Herd, Sportscenter and College Football Live. 

Florida continued a tradition it started under Will Muschamp, picking up South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on the way up to ESPN's campus. 

McElwain told ESPN’s Chris Low, “[Florida officials] asked was there any problem doing this. I said, ‘Hell, I drive by the guy’s statue every day.’ He won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Florida. You know what, we’ll do anything for him. Any opportunity I get to just visit with the guy is invaluable. In fact, I wish the guy would quit coaching, so I could get him in and really pick his brain.”

McElwain's "car wash" mostly centered around Florida's quarterback competition, the team's potential breakout offensive players (Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell), Vernon Hargreaves' star power, his relationship with Nick Saban, etc.  

His most entertaining segment of the day had nothing to do with Florida football. McElwain ribbed on his former Eastern Washington University roommate Colin Cowherd, who wasn't hosting his own show Tuesday. 

With former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell and South Florida radio personality Jon 'Stugotz' Weiner filling in on The Herd, McElwain joked about Cowherd's favorite kind of booze back in college, his silly-looking haircuts and how Cowherd would talk to himself during baseball games. 

For those who missed Tuesday's programming, McElwain's four live appearances are linked below. 






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