SPRING: Meyer – Haden will not redshirt

Cornerback is a position of need and it appears the Gators have found a competitor. Florida head coach Urban Meyer said today that true freshman Joe Haden (5-11, 183) will not redshirt in 2007. The Fort Washington, Maryland native has definitely improved since the Gators opened spring practice less than a week ago.

How is the offense progressing?

“The offense is struggling a little bit. Tim didn’t have a great day. He’s just pressing awful hard and trying to do everything perfect. He’s a perfectionist. Defense actually looked better today. Still, it’s only the second day in pads. There’s no evaluation, we’re just teaching.”

Does Drew Miller fit the mold of what you’re looking for at center and how is the experiment going so far?

“He fits the mold. He’s an athletic guy. He’s tough. He’s got great size. He actually is the one guy that can play a lot of positions. He can get away at tackle, guard, and center. And there’s not many guys in the country that can do that. So, he’s a talented guy.”

Is he the first guy you looked to fill the spot?

“The negative is that he will be our third center in three years and the next will be our fourth center in four years. We like to have one for two or three years. Maurice Hurt is working in there. Eddie Haupt has gotten a little better. We’ve got to get our five best guys on the field and right now he’s obviously one of our five best guys.”

It looks like he’s rolled a few back (to the quarterbacks), but that’s to be expected since you just started?

“Yeah, but that’s gotta stop real fast. He’s rolled more than a few back.”

Is the defense gaining any confidence after the scrimmage on Saturday?

“No, no, no. They’re playing very poorly right now. The only way they gain confidence is having a lot of success and that was not success on Saturday. They won the scrimmage, but they didn’t play very well.”

Carl Johnson, coach. I didn’t see him out here today?

“They thought it was appendicitis. We’re not quite sure what it is. I’ll have more. He was just out with the flu? I’ll find out when I get in.”

How are the linebackers looking out there?

“They’ve got along way to go.”

Are Carlton Medder and (Jason) Watkins are in a battle right now?

“Yeah, Coach Addazio is trying to push him. They are, but Medder right now is the number one tackle. He’s just trying to push the other guy a little bit.”

With all of the reps that Cam Newton is getting, have you seen a little bit of improvement in him or is he still a little lost?

“I told you. The professional term is lost in the high weeds and he’s still lost in the high weeds. But, he’s a try hard guy and great person. Waggener had surgery today and from what I understand the trainer said that it came out good.”

How are you looking at running back?

“K Moore has had an excellent spring. Very pleased with him. Brandon James is second and the other guys are all far behind. But, they’re trying hard.”

How’s Joe Haden looking so far coach?

“Joe’s doing good. He’s going to play next year- that’s a given. That’s one guy that’s already earned his redshirt (off). He will not redshirt next year. I like him a lot. Great attitude, great effort guy.”

Will he play some offense, maybe?

“No. Not next year. Not next year.”

How far back is (Jacques) Rickerson right now?

He practiced today. I just asked Chuck (Heater). I don’t know until I watch the film. He’s probably got the best feet of all of those corners. In the fall, he wasn’t a very hard worker and an injury set him back. It seems like he’s got a better attitude now. And I think that he sees that and if he practices hard, he’s going to start at corner for the University of Florida.”

How are you with regards to leadership?

“Very poor right now. Very poor. We’re not a good team. We’re not a good team full of leaders. We have a very small number of upperclassmen. The combined junior and senior class is less than what we had last year in the senior class. And it shows out here. That’s our job. That’s our job as coaches and that’s our job to develop that and we will.”