The Florida Gators football team takes the field on Wednesday for the first spring practice coming off of a successful 10-4 2015 season.
Jim McElwain and the Florida Gators improved a lot last season in several areas, but there is still a lot to improve on this spring.
GatorCountry decided to bring you a pre-spring roundtable as Andrew Spivey, Nick de la Torre and Kevin Camps answered five tough questions heading into spring.
The three guys discussed what they’re looking forward to the most this spring and also which player they’re looking forward to see the most.
Here’s the roundtable:
Q.) What are you most excited about for this spring? Not a particular player but just overall excitement for?
Spivey: I’m looking forward to seeing how the team comes out this spring, are they hungry and excited like they were at the beginning of the season? This team has some stability with the coaching staff so there shouldn’t be a lot of nervousness as they know the routine and what’s expected of them.
Camps: I’m excited to see how this staff will adjust to the expectations and how they will recapture the momentum that was built prior to the month of November last year. Many were down on the team following the Citrus Bowl, but I am excited about the direction of the program and I believe this spring will be the start of a great recruiting season. There is a lot of growth still to be had and fans have to understand we are still in the infant stages of a promising staff.
De la Torre: I’m excited for two things. First, just to have football back is nice. The first few practices are frustrating, as the team cannot go full pads until the fifth practice, but when the pads come on and you get the sound of hitting, that’s when I get excited. After that I’m excited to see the early enrollees. It’s nice to see the fresh faces come in and see how they handle the speed of the game and a new environment.
Q.) Who is the one offensive player you are most excited about?
Spivey: Josh Hammond is a guy that I’ve heard a lot about this offseason and I’m looking forward to see how that carries over into practice. The Gators desperately need a receiver to step up and Hammond could be that guy.
Camps: There are a few guys here that I could point to, but I want to cheat a little bit and throw out Cyontai Lewis and DeAndre Goolsby and see if they can handle the increased role now that McGee has departed. Goolsby showed athleticism, but had a bad case of the drops late in the year. Lewis never regained momentum after his injury. If both can up their game this spring those two can be one of the more difficult matchups in the SEC.
De la Torre: I don’t know if I’m excited about anyone on offense, but I’m very intrigued to see Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby spin it and I’m very interested to see how Mark Thompson is able to hit the ground running.
Q.) Who is the one defensive player you are most excited about?
Spivey: Caleb Brantley had a really good season last year, I’m looking to see if he continues that momentum into spring ball. Brantley has the ability to dominated the defensive line and have a year like Jonathan Bullard did last year. Florida’s defensive line is good but if Brantley is playing like last season then it becomes really better.
Camps: Sometimes we get overly excited about newcomers because we are familiar with the old faces, but I am genuinely excited to see Chauncey Gardner on the field. I want to know coming out of spring that he will be a contributor on one of the best defenses in the country. Others I am excited about are Jarrad Davis and Jalen Tabor, not for their play on the field, but can they take up the leadership role left by Morrison, Hargreaves and Bullard.
De la Torre: On defense I’m excited to see Quincy Wilson. So much was made of Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Tabor last year that most people overlooked Wilson, who in my opinion, was as good as any of the cornerbacks on the roster last year and the best tackler of the bunch as well. It seems like Wilson also has seen and heard the praise of the other players and feels as if he’s not getting his own just due. What kind of intensity does he bring to spring with that chip on his shoulder?
Q.) What is the one area that concerns you the most heading into the spring?
Spivey: Safety is a huge concern besides Marcus Maye, but I’m going to go with the interior of the offensive line. David Sharpe and Fred Johnson will hold down on the tackle positions this spring but how does the inside of the line shape out. Will Tyler Jordan stay at guard or move inside, if he does then who plays the guard positions? I think you see Nick Buchanan and Travaris Dorsey get a lot of reps at guard. This the key for me.
Camps: Going outside of the obvious choice of quarterback. I am somewhat concerned with the depth of secondary, specifically the corner back position. With the loss of Hargreaves, Neal and the underrated loss of Brian Poole, the Gators will need some of the young unproven guys to play some important snaps. Regardless of the tradition at the position you can only lose so many bodies. On top of the losses to graduation and early departure the Gators also loss, Deiondre Porter and J.C. Jackson to issues off the field. There is more depth at safety to handle the losses, but cornerback could become an serious issue should Tabor or Wilson go down. Wilson was nursing a back injury at the end of last year.
De la Torre: The biggest hole to fill is the safety role next to Marcus Maye. I don’t know if Florida has a guy who can play at that level so it’s a huge concern but the one that will hold my eye. My biggest concern is what kind of production Florida will get at the quarterback position. The position is the most important in football and you could see what Florida’s offense looked like last year when they had a quarterback and when they didn’t. It was night and day. Does Florida have a guy who can be productive?
Q.) Which position excites you the most heading into the spring?
Spivey: This may come out of nowhere but I’m excited about the quarterback position because Florida finally has depth there. Luke Del Rio is the starter going in but how do the others perform this spring? That is something I’m interested in seeing.
Camps: Although the position is somewhat unsettled after Callaway, I am really looking forward to the receiver competition. Especially the young guys already on campus, Hammond and Swain along with JUCO transfer Dre Massey. There are still questions out there about the contributions and future of Ahmad Fulwood and C.J. Worton, hopefully we will see some urgency from those guys that will help with the depth of this crew. Treon Harris who has reportedly switched positions to wide receiver will once again have plenty of eyes on him.
De la Torre: The most exciting position to me is running back. I think you have three guys who could win the job with Mark Thompson, Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite all vying for the starting job vacated by Kelvin Taylor.
Make sure to stay tuned to GatorCountry.com for all of the spring football coverage and news regarding the team.