It may have just been the first day of spring practice and the players weren’t in pads but Jim McElwain noticed something present that had been missing in his first two seasons.
“We’ve got Florida speed out there,” McElwain noted.
Urban Meyer made his intentions clear when he arrived in Gainesville. He wanted the fastest team in the country and he set forth to achieve just that. During those years the Gators won two National Championships and boasted one of, if not the, fastest teams in the country.
In the six years since Meyer left the Gators they haven’t been able to duplicate that team speed. Frankly, if the Gators want to compete for SEC and National Championships it’s an area where they need to drastically improve and one that McElwain has put an emphasis on.
Early enrollee freshman quarterback/athlete Kadarius Toney showed a bit of that when he tweeted out a picture of himself beating redshirt freshman McArthur Burnett.
— C2N® (@kadariustoney) February 2, 2017
Back in the Meyer days the Gators were known for this kind of thing. Chris Rainey reportedly challenged Jeff Demps to a race and the two got after it behind Springs Dormitory on campus. Prior to his arrival at Florida Demps posted a 10.17 100-yard dash time, the fastest recorded time by a high schooler ever. He bested that with a 10.07 at the Olympic Trials in the same year. He split two races against Rainey. That’s the speed Florid wants to get back to.
“You can come out to practice, and you’ll see it for yourself,” speedy receiver Brandon Powell said. “Our whole offense is built around speed. Our defense, too. It’s great to have speed all around the team.”
Toney may have had the moment that harkened the glory days of great Gator speed but he’s not even the fastest player on the team according to running back Jordan Scarlett. That distinction goes to Antonio Callaway or Tyrie Cleveland.
“He’s pretty fast, yeah. He beat Nut Nut (Burnett) so I think he’s pretty fast,” Scarlett said of Toney’s race with Burnett). “I want to see him race against Tyrie or somebody pretty fast.”
When the Gators take the field against Michigan to start the 2017 season they’ll need to be fast and ready to go on offense. The defense is replacing eight starters from a year ago and the offense will need to be ready to carry the load for the first time in years.