The Jim McElwain era is officially upon Gator Nation as the new head coach led the Florida Gators out on to the lacrosse fields at the University of Florida for the first day of fall camp.
McElwain’s first order of business was the decision to split up the first day of practice into two sessions; the veteran returning players went first and the freshmen, as well as some transfers, followed up after them.
The first 15 minutes of each practice session was open to the media. The open portions of practice include the “fastball” period (full 11-on-11 with a hurry up offense), individual position group drills as well as one-on-one between receivers and defensive backs.
Here are the highlights, lowlights and everything that Gator Country saw and heard from the first day of spring practice on the offensive side of the ball.
Will Grier looked sharp during the first session of the day. The redshirt freshman threw the ball with a nice spiral and he has the ability to continually out the ball out in front of receivers, allowing them to catch it in stride and turn up field.
Grier also appeared to work with the first team offense exclusively today.
Treon Harris had a decent day but missed high on some of his throws. This could just be nerves for the first day of camp and not something that is overly concerning after just one practice.
Harris worked with the second team offense during the first day.
Vanderbilt transfer Joshua Grady surprised with how well he spun the ball at practice. Grady looks to be a bit on the smaller side but he made a lot of nice throws, has some zip on his ball, and was accurate.
Luke Del Rio was at practice on Thursday but did not participate. Del Rio had an appendectomy on Monday, so it was a surprise that he was even out at practice. Del Rio is still not eligible to play this season without a special waiver from the NCAA.
Kelvin Taylor was the only running back of note in the first session today. Taylor looked good but it’s hard to really judge the running game when the players aren’t in pads.
Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite both look very good for freshmen. Neither player looks like your standard freshmen and just judging from a size and speed, they both appear ready to contribute this season.
Adam Lane had a nice run in the second session getting outside on a nice block from freshman offensive lineman Fred Johnson. Lane went through all of the running back drills first in the second session and appears to be helping the younger running backs acclimate.
Demarcus Robinson continues to show that he is the most athletically gifted player on the roster but he had two mental errors in the first session. Robinson ran the wrong route twice while the team was throwing routes on air (no defense) and had to be corrected by the staff. It’s a new offense, but Robinson is a veteran and needs to get it corrected.
C.J. Worton looks to be the most technical receiver on the roster. Worton runs great routes and may have the best hands at his position. He has great body control and showed it grabbing a pass from Harris that was behind him on a slant.
Ahmad Fulwood went with the second session today because of his class schedule. Fulwood was catching the ball with his body today, rather than sticking his hands out and going after the ball. A receiver his size, with his arm length should be better at catching the ball away from his body and trust his hands more.
Antonio Callaway falls into the “looks the part” role that Scarlett and Cronkrite do. Callaway may be on the shorter side for a receiver but he has obviously spent a lot of time in the weight room bulking up. Callaway worked in the second session and is a natural receiver. He’s smooth in his routes and plays with a ton of confidence.
A healthy Jake McGee is capable of doing everything that McElwain and Doug Nussmeier want the tight end to do in their offense. McGee is getting better as a blocker and his offensive playmaking ability has been discussed in depth. Look for him to have a big year and be featured heavily in the offense.
C’yontai Lewis had a nice grab on a pass from Grier. Lewis caught the ball in stride and quickly turned up field. He’s a player who could be dangerous in space if the Gators can get him the ball.
It’s hard to make real notes on the offensive line when they’re not in pads but it was interesting to note that Mason Halter was working out at left tackle and David Sharpe was getting work at right tackle.
This isn’t necessarily what the team will line up in when the season starts but it’s important for all the offensive linemen to feel comfortable at different positions because there isn’t enough depth to have a true backup at all five positions.
In the second group, Martez Ivey was working out at left tackle. The big 300-pound freshman doesn’t appear to weigh 300 pounds and that’s a good thing. Ivey is still long and lean, carrying the extra weight well. His footwork looked good but he still has some work to do as a pass blocker.
There were no snapping issues that I could see during either fastball period and that’s a good sign considering Cam Dillard and freshman Tyler Jordan have no game experience yet.