Friday March 15, 2013Gators hope their Purifoy Plan this spring can pay dividends in fall
Updated: 10:19am, March 15
Updated: 10:19am, March 15
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Maybe if Loucheiz Purifoy was an unknown walk-on or veteran role player who had never found a home on the field, Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease could just forget to give him back to the defense.
However, Pease realizes it wouldn't take long for head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin to come looking for him if he tried to steal Purifoy away permanently this spring.
"We understand Loucheiz is a defensive guy,'' Pease said. "But I think when you got a talent like him, he can step on the field and give us something offensively and make defenses scheme against you a little bit."
As the Gators look for ways to bolster their offense in Pease's second season, they are working Purifoy at receiver the first seven practices of spring camp. Purifoy, a starting cornerback and one of Florida's most productive players, lined up at receiver occasionally last season but with limited knowledge of the position.
Purifoy is getting an intense primer this spring, and come fall, the Gators would like to be able to use him on offense as another target for quarterback Jeff Driskel and as a real concern for opposing defenses.
Purifoy is listed atop the spring depth chart at the Z receiver position.
Following the first practice of spring camp on Wednesday, Muschamp sounded pleased with Day 1 of the experiment.
"He made some plays at wideout," Muschamp said. "Again, he's still in a learning process. I had a long talk with him [Tuesday], he got a little frustrated. I said, 'Listen, remember your first day at corner?' I mean, it just doesn't happen overnight.
"That's why we're doing this, so you can learn the concepts of the offense when you step in. It's very difficult for a guy that's had tremendous success at a position when you're trying to learn another position.”
In his first two seasons Purifoy has proven to be one of the SEC's top cornerbacks. He plays with a toughness and physical style that Muschamp covets, and he also has the kind of speed that could make him a dangerous threat in the passing game.
First, he has to learn how to properly run routes, read coverages and pick up the other details that separate true receivers from someone who can occasionally catch a pass.
"You can't always just put Loucheiz in and throw a screen or run a reverse with him every time he's in the game,'' Muschamp said. "We need to expand his package if we're going to continue to move forward with that. We just need to get him more turns and reps at the position and not get away from what he does best, which is cover."
Purifoy was a two-way player in high school so fatigue isn't a concern. He also emerged on kickoff returns last season and has been a regular contributor on special teams, blocking a punt against Louisiana last season that was returned for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds by Jelani Jenkins.
So while Pease might think about hiding him away on offense, he knows that will be impossible. Purifoy is too valuable in other areas. The Gators just hope he can add receiver to the list.