Notebook: First Open Spring Practice

The Florida Gators football team opened their doors to the media and fans today for spring football practice. This was the first of two practices that will be open to the public and it was our first chance to see the new-look Gators in person.

You can only tell so much about a football team when they’re in shorts and no pads but today gave us an opportunity to see who is capable of stepping up and filling in for the talent that the Gators lost this past offseason.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into our notebook, looking at who had a good day, how position battles are shaking out and who wasn’t on top of their game at practice.


Top Performers

  • Brian Poole looked good in both positional drills and 7-on-7 drills today. He came away with a couple of pass deflections and should be a major factor in the secondary this season.
  • Jabari Gorman came up with a very athletic interception of Jeff Driskel today. Gorman was solid in drills and is taking advantage of the vacancies at safety.
  • Austin Hardin looked like the next great Florida kicker today. Hardin drives the ball on field goals and gets the ball up quickly. What really stood out today was Hardin coming back out to the field after most of the team had left to get some extra work in. When talent meets work ethic, you find special players.
  • Loucheiz Purifoy looked much more comfortable today than he did in the first practice. Purifoy took a jet sweep and was able to get into second gear quickly. He did a better job of catching the ball with his hands rather than his body and appears to be fitting in on offense.
  • Dante Fowler lost a lot of weight this offseason. Fowler looks leaner and quicker but was still able to maintain his strength.
  • Demarcus Robinson showed flashes today of the playmaker he could become. Robinson has a great feel for the position, high-points the football and a second gear that most players can’t keep up with. He struggled during punt return drills but he looks like a player who will make a major impact on offense this season.
  • Clay Burton was the top performer of the tight ends today. Burton looks much improved in his route running and made a couple of nice catches today.
  • Cody Riggs has transformed his body in the offseason. Riggs looks like he fell in love with the weight room and his relationship with it is paying dividends. Riggs was the player of the day, shining in positional drills, locking down his man in 7-on-7 drills and looking very comfortable in his new role at safety.

 Need to See More From

  • Colin Thompson struggled to standout today. Just looking at Thompson in person and watching the way he moves on the field you can’t help but to think of Jason Witten. Thompson has the ability to become a playmaker in this offense; we just didn’t see it from him today.


We Need to See Less From

  • Despite having a good practice, Antonio Morrison drew the ire of Will Muschamp when he tackled Kent Taylor today. Taylor made a nice catch over the middle and was taken down from behind by Morrison. While it was a good football play, it’s never a good idea to tackle a teammate when the team isn’t in pads.

 Jeff Driskel

  • It was a mixed bag for Driskel today. When the team was on the far fields, I could see him struggling with his accuracy a bit. He came on the fields that were near us and was quickly picked off. After the interception, Driskel settled down and started making some nice passes. He found Purifoy on a crossing route, threw a nice high ball to Andre Debose for a long completion and showed his arm strength on a comeback pass to Demarcus Robinson.

 Running Backs

  • Matt Jones is the clear starter in this group. Jones was with the first team all day and other than one play where he was tripped up behind the line of scrimmage, looked good today. Jones was quick to make his cut and get up field. He looks like he’s in midseason form already.
  • Mack Brown is definitely ahead of Kelvin Taylor as we stand. Both Brown and Taylor had some nice runs today (it’s hard to judge running backs without contact).

The Early Enrollee Linebackers

  • We might need to check some birth certificates, because if these kids are really freshmen, they sure don’t look the part.
  • Both Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian were all over the field today. Due to the lack of depth at the position, the youngsters are getting plenty of playing time.
  • After watching just one practice it is abundantly apparent that they belong and you will be seeing more of both of them this fall.
  • Matt Rolin isn’t working out as he continues to rehab his knee following ACL surgery. Rolin is just as physically impressive as McMillian and Anzalone and depending on how quickly he can come back, should factor in to the linebacker rotation.

Transfers on the Offensive Line

  • Both Tyler Moore and Max Garcia are running with the ones on the offensive line and they both look the part of SEC offensive linemen. Garcia was a starter at Maryland and Moore earned Freshmen All-American honors while at Nebraska.
  • Both will be tested this offseason as the rotation of Dante Fowler Jr., Jonathan Bullard, Dominique Easley, Bryan Cox Jr., Damien Jacobs and Leon Orr will give them a taste of what life will be like in the SEC.

 Returning Punts

  • Marcus Roberson was the first man up when the team started working on punt returns.
  • Roberson appears to have the job locked down but Andre Debose, Raphael Andrades and Brian Poole all looked comfortable fielding punts.
  • Demarcus Robinson looked uncomfortable fielding punts today. He was unsure of when to let a ball hit the ground or go up and catch it. His uncertainty led to a couple balls bouncing off his hands and Joker Phillips didn’t seem happy with the young receivers performance.

 Injury Report

  • Chaz Green, Ronald Powell, Ian SIlberman and Matt Rolin did not participate in practice.


Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC