We got our first look at the newcomers in the Florida Gator football program and it certainly appears they have shown up for camp ready to get after it. The first workout in shorts did not deliver anything overly newsworthy, save the knee injury to safety Bryan Thomas. ALSO: Interview with Wondy.
It appeared serious, but concerns were eased when Coach Urban Meyer said he didn’t think it was a big deal after practice. But here’s a quick thumbnail look at the rookies at linebacker and defensive back.
* Brandon Spikes —– This young man is very impressive to the eyes. He has excellent size at 6’3” 230, and looks like a true linebacker rather than a defensive end in the making. That’s good news for a unit that needs Spikes to contribute right away. He seemed to pick up every drill naturally.
* Dustin Doe —– Doe looks to have filled out pretty well, checking in at 6’ 215. Made a nice lunging interception in a pass skel drill and seems to be settling in quickly.
* A.J. Jones —– Is listed at 6’1” 200, but looks much longer than Doe. Also seems to have a slighter build and may be hard-pressed to challenge for playing time in year one. Moves very well.
* Jermaine Cunningham —– Was listed as a defensive end when he signed but this may be where he ends up. It’s too early to tell, but he sure didn’t look 6’4” 225. Unusual speed for a guy at any size and may be one of those you just figure out a way to get on the field.
* Jacques Rickerson —– He has traditional corner size at 5’10” 176 and certainly looks like he has the hip swivel and acceleration you like to see. Covered very tightly in the few cover situations he was placed in.
* Markihe Anderson —– Looked solid in the drills, though didn’t appear as quick at Rickerson. That may be more a symptom of picking things up than a legit physical difference. He was not as aggressive in coverage as Rickerson.
* Bryan Thomas —– I didn’t take long to see what everyone, especially Hollywood Bob loves about this kid. Size, quickness, athleticism is all there. It was scary with him down on the field so long and watching him limp off. Hopefully Coach Meyer is correct and nothing major happened, but since it’s the same knee he had scoped a month ago you have to think it will slow him for some time.
* Wondy Pierre-Louis —– The tallest of the corners at 6’1” Wondy did not get to do as much as the others today as they take it slow with his knee. He had an interesting time getting eligible including a three-week trip back to his native Haiti to get a student visa. Looked plenty quick and athletic in the things he was allowed to do.
After practice Wondy spoke to a handful of media guys including yours truly.
LV: Wondy, how did it feel to get out there for your first Gator practice?
WPL: It feels great man, everybody got tired and we’re ready to compete and see who’s gonna play. The coaches will do a good job for us and figure out who the best players are so they can put us on the field.”
MG: How’s the knee?
WPL: The knee is good. They are trying to keep me out right now so it can get better and stronger, you know.”
LV: How did you get into playing football? (Nobody plays football in Haiti and Wondy never played it until high school)
WPL: One of my friends took me out to football cuz I was fast as hell.
LV: Do you remember the first time you got hit or delivered a hit?
WPL: The first time I got hit I was knocked out for five minutes. I didn’t see it coming. They just put me back there and said run the ball and I thought everyone was on my team….. (Laughter)
LV: Did that collision convince you that you wanted to play defense?
WPL: No, they put me on defense because we had too many receivers and I don’t catch so well.
Wondy Pierre-Louis says he learned English quickly because of football since no one else on his team spoke French/Creole he really didn’t have a choice. He hopes to compete for playing time this fall and for the track team in the high jump this spring.
Obviously this is about first impressions and they could change in the next week. Still it was great to see some activity out there after waiting for so long to have something to see that mattered.