We’ve reached the point of quarantine and no sports that networks are airing video game NASCAR races, corn hole, and Golden Tee tournaments. Honestly, I’m not mad at it. It’s, at the very least, something to watch on television as we all do our best to deal with COVID-19.
Still, there should be spring football going on right now. Spring camp is a time for players to take advantage of extra reps and practice and potentially begin to carve out a role for themselves in the fall.
The SEC hasn’t ruled out the possibility that schools could have spring practice. While the spring sports, spring championships, and spring games have been cancelled the league has only put a hold on spring practice through April 15. That could change and be extended, but depending on how the containment of COVID-19 progresses there could be some kind of camp in the summer that would act as spring camp.
With spring currently postponed, we wanted to look at five players that needed this spring for various reasons and what we expect from them.
DB Trey Dean
Dean has had an up and down couple of years in Gainesville. Thrust into action as a freshman Dean played well outside in 2018. In 2019 he was tasked with replacing Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at Star and struggled with the new position. Speaking with Gator Country after the Orange Bowl Dean said he was willing to play safety, something he’d been hesitant to do in the past.
This was going to be a major opportunity for Dean to work into that role. The Gators still return Donovan Stiner, Shawn Davis and Brad Stewart returning, so it’s crowded in the backend of the secondary. Dean had to come off the bench last year when Marco Wilson moved to Star and if he wants to move back into a starting role the offseason is where he would have the chance to earn that back.
OL Josh Braun
The Gators’ offensive line needed some new life injected into it and flipping Braun from Georgia was a huge coup for Dan Mullen and John Hevesy. I’m always hesitant to pick freshman offensive linemen when talking about early impact guys but Braun would have had a chance to start given his early enrollment. That’s not to say he can’t but he needs to get on the field with the other guys and go through drills and practice to start building that on-field chemistry that is so important for offensive linemen. Spring camp or not, he’s still a player I’m very excited to see once the pads eventually come back.
LB/DB Amari Burney
Where will Burney play? That’s what we really wanted to find out this spring. Burney made the move from safety to linebacker as a freshman and was expected to be a huge contributor in 2019 before he was limited with an injury.
Will Burney play weakside linebacker, nickelback; could he move back to safety? He’s a man without a definite home right now, which is the only negative aspect of being so versatile.
The forgotten running back in 2019, Davis has had to overcome so much adversity with multiple injuries but Dan Mullen stated that he believes Davis is finally back to 100% both physically and mentally.
The backfield will be loaded once again with Dameon Pierce, Lorenzo Lingard, Iverson Clement, and Nay’Quan Wright in the mix. This spring would have been the chance for Davis to establish that he is back healthy and ready to establish a foothold in the running back rotation.
When the Gators hired Tim Brewster the immediate reaction was about how he would help Kyle Pitts. Nobody is overtaking Pits on the depth chart but the Gators need a clear No. 2 behind him. That would appear to be Zipperer. The sophomore from Lakeland had three catches for 31 yards and one touchdown as a freshman in 2019. He’s a very athletic playmaker with a high ceiling. Getting the opportunity to get coached by someone like Brewster is going to do a lot for his development.