Welcome to Carter's Corner!
Quarterback Jeff Driskel opens his second season as the starter Saturday vs. Toledo.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – College football is back.
Those four words look good splashed across the computer screen.
The 2013 college football season officially kicks off tonight when No. 6-ranked South Carolina, which along with the Gators and Georgia is expected to contend for the SEC East title, hosts North Carolina (6 p.m., ESPN).
The No. 10-ranked Gators open on Saturday at home against Toledo.
Check out GatorZone.com the next two days for much more on the game.
Meanwhile, let’s surf around the Web for some of the latest links covering the Gators:
--ESPN.com bloggers Chris Low and Ed Aschoff offer their SEC predictions for Week 1.
--David Jones of Florida Today on Brevard Pride: Wearing No. 20 at the University of Florida. Safety Marcus Maye is the latest No. 20 for the Gators.
--Gators sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison remorseful, apologizes for behavior that led to two arrests writes Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel.
--Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley writes about a third-year jinx that has plagued some UF coaches.
--All kidding aside, Florida’s Dominique Easley wants to be remembered as a ‘Gator Great’ writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Toledo’s inexperienced line prepares to wrestle with Gators writes Ryan Autullo of The Toledo Blade.
--USA Today explores the topic of how schools are trying to improve the ‘game experience’ to keep fans coming to games.
--A look at the Gators position by position by Antonya English of The Tampa Bay Times.
--Gators plan to add pass attack to powerful run game writes Nick Williams of The Tampa Tribune.
--Ex-Gator Jelani Jenkins competing for roster spot with Miami Dolphins writes Brian Biggane of The Palm Beach Post.
Wednesday August 28, 2013Operation Urgent Impact: UF, UAA team with local agencies to keep Swamp safe
Updated: 4:52pm, August 28
The UAA and UF teamed with local agencies recently to keep The Swamp a safe and fun place.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the largest sports venue in Florida and transforms into one of the state’s most populated zip codes on Saturdays each fall.
The Swamp awakens from its quiet offseason on Saturday when the Gators host Toledo in the season opener.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks 12 years ago, the world of sports has increased security measures like the world beyond the stadium gates.
Another reminder of why -- and how security must always be a high priority at large sports events -- occurred April 15 at the Boston Marathon. A pair of bombs exploded seconds apart near the finish line, killing three people and seriously wounding dozens more.
The bombs and their aftermath gridlocked one of America’s most famous cities for several days until the perpetrators were caught and fears of another attack were alleviated
What if an incident involving casualties and mass injuries happened outside The Swamp on a gorgeous fall Saturday afternoon?
In conjunction with more than a dozen law-enforcement and public-safety agencies, the University Athletic Association and University of Florida Police conducted Operation Urgent Impact in late May. The event included more than 500 people, 100 of them volunteers who served as actors during the exercise.
The exercise’s focus was to determine how the UAA and other local agencies would perform in an emergency situation outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on game day.
“We’ve always looked at the stadium as a potential target we want to protect,” said Chip Howard, executive associate athletics director for internal affairs. “But what Boston did was give us a better idea of what we needed to look for.
“The threats are changing, communication techniques are changing, the people change, so we’re always looking for ways to keep our procedures state of the art and to keep all our folks informed and engaged.”
The four-hour drill was based on the premise that a media helicopter hovering above the stadium crashed at the intersection of Gale Lemerand Drive and Stadium Road two hours prior to kickoff of a sold-out game and with more than 150,000 people in the general vicinity of the stadium.
The exercise was conducted as if the helicopter crash caused mass casualties and other injuries to spectators. Both the North Florida Regional Medical Center and UF Health participated and prepared as if they would be accepting an influx of patients.
Once the exercise was completed, the drill was reviewed and all participating agencies prepared follow-up reports that focused on ways to improve operations.
Howard said it is important for the UAA and other local organizations to work together to make a game at The Swamp – in and outside the stadium – as safe as possible.
“Boston illustrated that you need to be aware of what’s going on outside your stadium, too,” Howard said. “And have the people in place, obviously to watch what’s going on, but then respond to what’s going on. Our response to Boston is Operation Urgent Impact. That’s what we were focused on with the exercise.
“I think you will see some increased presence and a heightened awareness outside the stadium. I think that is based on intelligence we have gathered from our law enforcement partners as well as what happened at Operation Urgent Impact to better serve our fans and make sure we provide the safest environment we can.”
OPERATION URGENT IMPACT
When: May 30, 2013
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, UF Health, North Florida Regional Medical Center, VA Hospital
Agencies: UAA, UF Police Department, UF Environmental and Safety, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Alachua County Fire Rescue, Alachua County Emergency Management, Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Fire Rescue, North Florida Regional Medical Center, UF Health (formerly Shands at UF), Alachua County Health Department, Veterans Health Systems (VA Hospital), Select Specialty Hospital, Regional Transit System, Florida State University Police (four officers sent to observe and provide outside evaluation)
Purpose: To evaluate UF’s and the UAA’s mass casualty plans in support of medical surge operations at area hospitals and other public health agencies in Alachua County and Gainesville
Wednesday August 28, 2013Move to offense has come naturally for Valdez Showers
Updated: 9:41am, August 28
Redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers is back on offense after spending his first two seasons on defense.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Michigan wanted him. So did Michigan State.
One of the state’s most high-profile recruits his senior season in 2010, Gators redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers was named Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year at Madison Heights High, located 15 minutes north of downtown Detroit.
He surprised some in his home state when he chose to sign with Florida – as a defensive back. Showers was primarily a running back in high school until playing the secondary his senior season.
“It’s a long way from Detroit, but I didn’t really want to stay in-state, so that influenced my decision,” Showers told the Detroit Free-Press at the time. “Even though Michigan and Michigan State came at me, I had to do what I had to do.”
Showers did what he had to do this fall, too. He moved back to offense.
Showers didn’t mind when coaches asked if he wanted to convert back to offense with sophomore running back Matt Jones, the projected starter at tailback, came down with a serious viral infection right before fall camp opened.
“It’s always a good thing to have the ball in your hands,’’ a relaxed Showers said Tuesday as he took questions from a group of reporters in the visiting locker room at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. “It’s not a bad move at all.”
Showers served on the scout team in 2011 as a freshman redshirt, and last season he appeared in 11 games primarily on special teams. However, with the Gators short-handed in camp, Showers made the transition into a role similar to the one occupied by Omarius Hines in Florida coach Will Muschamp’s first two seasons.
Hines was used at receiver and running back and effective in the short passing game and on misdirection runs. Showers (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) lacks Hines’ bulk but is quicker and more elusive.
His teammates were impressed by Showers’ easy transition back to offense. Showers enters the season opener Saturday against Toledo as the third-team tailback.
As a senior at Madison Heights, Showers intercepted three passes and rushed for 2,024 yards and 29 touchdowns. Madison Heights reached the regional finals both seasons and Showers the Detroit News named Showers its Player of the Year.
“I think it’s a real good move,” said starting running back Mack Brown, one of the players Showers will compete for carries with on Saturday. “I think it’ll help out the offense a lot. He’s a real fast back. He can catch, [is] real smart. So this is a big opportunity for Valdez.”
One Showers is ready for – and in some ways, has waited on.
“The way I pictured things [playing offense] probably never went away, to score a touchdown,’’ he said. “That’s something you can’t let go. Offense comes natural to me, so it wasn’t hard at all. It’s easier than defense.”
If his number is called on Saturday, will Showers be edgy? Will he hesitate when taking a handoff?
“I’m not nervous at all. It’s football,’’ he said. “I’ve been playing it all my life.”
Redshirt freshman Marcus Maye (No. 20) has impressed coaches during fall camp.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- He was the student and Matt Elam and Josh Evans were the teachers.
Marcus Maye tried to absorb all he could in their classroom.
Maye redshirted due to a knee injury suffered playing basketball his senior season at Holy Trinity Episcopal School in Melbourne. Meanwhile, Elam and Evans formed one of the best safety combos in the country a year ago.
Elam was a first-round pick of the Ravens and Evans went to Jacksonville in the sixth round.
"I got to watch a lot. I got to learn a lot,'' Maye said. "I watched two great guys. I watched a great team defense, see how it's done."
Based on what others are saying during fall camp, Maye is an A student.
Florida coach Will Muschamp has tossed compliments toward Maye more than once since camp opened, and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin did the same Wednesday.
"He is a very productive player,'' Durkin said. "He's always around the ball. He's got a great skill-set for the position. That's a guy we would take over and over again at the safety position. He is long, he's rangy and he's physical."
Maye's strong camp has him in line to start at strong safety, a spot Elam manned last season as a first-team All-American.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Maye was highly coveted coming out of Holy Trinity. He chose the Gators over offers from Alabama, Auburn, FSU and LSU.
He is looking to step into the lineup and add his own unique flavor to the position the way Elam and Evans did. Maye, Cody Riggs, Jabari Gorman and Brian Poole have taken most of the reps at safety.
"Just always around the ball making plays,'' he said of his style. "Those two guys were great. Definitely big shoes to fill."
As a senior at Holy Trinity, Maye had four interceptions and recorded 45 tackles. He also played running back, racking up 712 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.
Durkin is confident Maye has the tools to succeed and help Florida fans overcome any concerns with the loss of Elam and Evans.
"He has done a great job of getting better and better with all the snaps he had this spring as well as this fall,'' Durkin said. "We're looking for a great year out of him. A lot falls on the safeties in our defense."
Thursday August 22, 2013Robinson's emergence one reason Pease expects more success in downfield passing game
Updated: 9:06am, August 27
Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease seeks an improved passing game in his second season.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No one has to remind Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease of the struggles in the downfield passing game in his first season.
Fresh off a stint calling plays for one of the nation's most prolific offenses at Boise State, led by quarterback Kellen Moore, Pease inherited a Florida offense last season with a first-year starting quarterback and a lack of proven playmakers at receiver.
The formula Pease used was much different than his time at Boise State.
Still, the Gators finished 11-2 and soared to No. 2 in the polls late in the season primarily because of a ball-control offense featuring running back Mike Gillislee, excellent ball security and an occasional long ball from quarterback Jeff Driskel.
Gillislee became the first Gators runner in eight years to crack the 1,000-yard barrier. Meanwhile, Driskel's legs proved as dangerous as his right arm. He finished second on the team in rushing while Florida ranked last in the SEC in passing.
"That needs to be better," Pease said Wednesday. "I don't want to be last. Nobody wants to be last in that."
Determined to improve the options in the passing game, the Gators eyed a large group of receivers on the recruiting trail and hauled in five true freshmen.
The one who arrived first has stood out the most.
Demarcus Robinson enrolled in January, had a strong spring practice, and since fall camp started, has drawn favorable reviews from coaches and teammates.
"He's a good freshman,'' junior cornerback Marcus Roberson said. "He's the best I've seen so far. He's a guy who can get better as well as get you better. As camp went on, his game elevated a lot."
Robinson (photo, left) chose the Gators over Clemson and at 6-foot-2, 201 pounds he provides a difficult cover for opposing defensive backs. He was an all-state selection at Peach County (Ga.) High.
Robinson is strong enough to outmuscle defenders and fast enough to run by them.
While only time will tell if Robinson develops into a go-to receiver for Driskel, Pease considers him capable of the job physically.
"He's gotten a lot better,'' Pease said. "The kid's a phenomenal athlete. I think he is one of the guys who have got to fill that role. I don't think he's the only guy because I think we've got probably three or four kids that can do that."
Redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar is the team's leading returning receiver. Dunbar caught 36 passes and a team-high four touchdowns last season.
Robinson will start the season as Dunbar's backup at the X receiver spot (updated with release of depth chart on Monday).
Four other true freshmen receivers -- Alvin Bailey, Marqui Hawkins, Chris Thompson and Ahmad Fulwood -- are also vying to make a difference in the Gators' passing attack.
Their progress varies.
"Marqui has been slowed by an ankle. He has been really slowed by the ankle and he’s trying to push through it, but again, not able to run full speed,'' Gators head coach Will Muschamp said. "Alvin’s a guy that we think is talented and can play in the slot. If he continues to progress, certainly can help us. Ahmad and Demarcus have distanced themselves.
"Chris Thompson would be the third guy that can help us because he’s going to help us on special teams. He has a knack for blocking kicks. He’s done a really nice job of showing up on special teams. He’s got great vertical speed. He’s a guy we’ll continue to look at."
The Gators recently converted defensive back Valdez Showers to receiver/running back. Showers was a prominent playmaker in high school and was named Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior.
Pease plans to use Showers in a role similar to the one filled by Omarius Hines last year.
"For us, here's a kid that played [offense] in high school, natural,'' Pease said. "He's got that foot speed. He's a little different than Omarius because he's probably got a lot more quickness and he's a little bit more elusive because of his size. Omarius was so strong."
Among the veteran receivers in the mix for more passes their way are Trey Burton, Ralph Andrades, Solomon Patton and Latroy Pittman.
But there is little doubt that if Florida's passing game is to improve significantly, the freshmen must play a factor.
Robinson is leading that charge.
"He's got great hands. Size-wise, he is really what you want,'' Pease said. "For a young kid that faces [that] much man coverage and has to get off of that, has the body to do it, you don't see a lot.
"Every repetition you can see him get better. One thing he does have, he can get knocked off at times on a re-route, but he has the ability to explode to go get the ball. He has a lot of range."
Robinson's strong camp has allowed the Gators to leave cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy on defense for the most part.
Still, Pease said not to rule out Purifoy playing receiver during the season.
"We repped him in the spring,'' Pease said. "He still gives us a body that is explosive. Anytime you can put the ball in his hands he's got the potential to do great things with it. He's a guy that will still figure into the plans when we go along."
Bottom line: Pease is keeping all his options open as the Gators try to improve in the passing game in the second year of his offense and second season with Driskel at quarterback.
Finishing last in the league in passing is not something Pease wants to repeat.
"I'm not always going to get caught up in numbers, but I do think our production has got to be better,'' he said. "That production has to occur when our opportunities are there. I know we didn't have great numbers but we had high percentage of throwing the ball, so we're taking advantage of what we could with what we had.
"It's not perfected, but we expect it's more of a threat to our offense this year than where we were last year."
Wednesday August 21, 2013Former Gators LB Jon Bostic's hit in preseason game has sparked discussion of NFL rules
Former Gators linebacker Jon Bostic's hit in a preseason game was a hot topic Wednesday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In his final game for the Gators, linebacker Jon Bostic delivered the most memorable hit of his college career when he drilled Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater so hard that Bridgewater's helmet went flying.
Bostic was penalized on a play that only Louisville fans probably viewed as dirty. ESPN color commentator Chris Spielman, a former NFL linebacker who was working the game with play-by-play man Sean McDonough, praised Bostic's hit as clean when it happened.
In days gone by, Bostic's hit might not have drawn a flag, but with extra emphasis on player safety -- especially protecting the quarterback -- the Gators were flagged 15 yards.
Bostic's hard-hitting style is already a hot topic in the NFL.
The NFL fined Bostic $21,000 Wednesday for his hit on San Diego receiver Mike Willie in a preseason game last week. Adding to the surprise Wednesday is that officials did not flag Bostic during the game.
The fine drew instant criticism from fans, media commentators and Bostic's Chicago teammates.
"You have to continue to play the best way you know how and that’s what he was doing,'' Bostic's teammate, Lance Briggs, told The Chicago Tribune. "None of the referees seemed to think there was anything wrong with the play. He could have allowed the receiver to run him over — that’s another technique. We could play the catch technique, we could take a charge, I don’t know, you have to play football."
A tweet earlier in the day by Briggs sparked the conversation about Bostic's hit.
Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, Bostic's position coach last season, was asked about his former pupil's hit on Wednesday.
"I think that was such a bang-bang play,'' Durkin said. "Obviously I don't think he was intending to do anything with it. I was just texting with him a little bit ago, 'you just got fined ... the good news is you've got money now you can go pay that."
With new NCAA targeting rules going into effect this season, Florida's coaching staff has spent time in fall camp stressing the importance of making wise decisions to avoid penalties and potential ejections.
The NFL's decision to fine Bostic (photo, left) has blurred the line even more of what is acceptable and what's not on plays that take a split second to unfold.
Durkin said the play resonated with Bostic's former Florida teammates.
"It was pretty popular," Durkin said. "Coaches, players — everyone looked at it. Obviously we’re all really proud of him. You can’t find a better guy than Jon Bostic to represent our program. All the guys feel strongly about that, so everyone was talking about it."
Bostic told reporters Wednesday that he simply reacted and was not trying to hurt Willie.
"It’s really just trying to get the ball back to the offense," Bostic said. "It’s more about taking the ball off ball carriers. It’s not so much sending a message. We’re just doing what we can do create as many turnovers as we can."
Monday August 19, 2013Gators RB Matt Jones putting weight back on, showing signs of improvement
Updated: 4:23pm, August 19
Photo: Matt Jones running the ball during spring practice.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators running back Matt Jones is making progress on his road to recovery from a serious viral infection according to Gators coach Will Muschamp.
Jones is scheduled for blood work on Monday and Muschamp said that Jones continues to work out and is back up to 223 pounds, only three pounds less than his listed playing weight of 226 pounds.
“I’ll know a little bit more as we move through the week, but he’s been jogging and moving around a little bit more, which is good,’’ Muschamp said Monday morning. “All I know is he is progressing very well. He feels good. He’s doing more and more every day from a workout standpoint.”
Jones has not participated in fall camp after coming down with a viral infection that required Jones to spend time in the hospital right before camp started. He has slowly regained his strength and in recent days Jones has been more prominent, watching practices and scrimmages f
Projected as the starter to replace Mike Gillislee, Jones rushed for 275 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman.
Muschamp said Monday that redshirt junior Mack Brown, redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers and walk-on Mark Herndon are the primary benefactors of Jones’ absence.
Brown is expected to open the season as the starter if Jones isn’t back, which appears unlikely.
“We’ve planned that way the whole time,’’ Muschamp said of the possibility of opening the season without Jones.
The Gators open the season Aug. 31 against Toledo.
Meanwhile, Showers is getting reps in the backfield after moving from defensive back this fall, and Herndon, a walk-on from Ocala who has worked on special teams, continues to impress coaches as true freshmen Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane make the transition from high school to college.
Other injury updates Muschamp provided Monday:
--Defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who was out with a foot injury for more than a week, has rejoined the team in full-contact drills.
--Fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder), defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee), receiver Raphael Andrades (turf toe) and guard Jon Halapio (pectoral tear) remain sidelined.
Gators Fan Day on Saturday drew a big crowd at the O'Connell Center.
Hey folks, hope everyone is having a good weekend. I met several of you at Gators Fan Day on Saturday and would like to say thanks for stopping by the GatorZone.com table at the O'Connell Center.
Meanwhile, the Gators held their second open practice of fall camp on Saturday at The Swamp. They have two more open practices this week: Monday and Tuesday (each scheduled to start at 12:21 p.m.).
Check out GatorZone later today for a feature story on the defensive line tandem of Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard. Also, on Monday I'll have a look at sophomore offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, considered one of the top left tackle prospects in the nation.
I'll tell you how Humphries went from someone who resisted the move in high school to someone who now realizes what playing left tackle could mean to his future.
Here are some fresh links from around the Internet this morning for your perusal:
--Alabama is No. 1 and the Gators check in at No. 10 on the AP Top 25 preseason poll writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--Gators offensive lineman Tyler Moore thought about quitting football but has restarted his career at UF writes Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley.
--Gators lineup taking shape writes David Jones of Florida Today.
--Florida's offense wasn't as crisp at Saturday's open scrimmage as on Thursday night writes Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel.
--Gators rebuilding linebackers corps after losing starters Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins to NFL writes Jason Lieser of Palm Beach Post.
--ESPN.com offers its NCAA Bucket List and the Florida-Georgia game is on the map. On personal note, that's always my favorite game of year.
--Former Gators G Kenny Boynton, UF's second all-time leading scorer, will start his professional career in Israel writes the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Game has slowed down for Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com's GatorNation.
--In case you missed it, UF ahead in autograph-rules trend writes Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.
--Miami Herald UF beat writer Jesse Simonton offers his take on Saturday's open practice at The Swamp.
--Gators senior Chloe Mann is ready for her final act with Gators volleyball team writes Jim Harvin of the Gainesville Sun.
--Former Gators forward Sydney Moss is transferring to Division III Thomas More College writes the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The Gators are scheduled to scrimmage today at The Swamp, which won't be as sunny as Saturday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators are scheduled to hold a closed scrimmage at The Swamp in less than an hour. It has been raining most of the morning so the conditions could play a factor.
Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff plan to get off the field and let the players play.
"This is going to be a moving day for a lot of guys,'' Muschamp said. "We've got to start narrowing reps. You cannot continue to rep everybody. This will be a 'D-Day' for a lot of guys so to speak."
Muschamp met with the media Friday morning and discussed several topics.
Check back with GatorZone.com later today for a feature story on the defensive line tandem of Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr.
Meanwhile, Muschamp updated the Gators’ injury report Friday:
--Muschamp said that sophomore running back Matt Jones continues to improve from a serious viral infection that struck him prior to camp. There remains no timetable on Jones’ return but Muschamp sounded optimistic that Jones is making strides and regaining his strength through conditioning drills.
“He is doing well, exercising, getting back in it – no ready to get out in the heat in full gear yet,’’ Muschamp said.
--Freshman defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III sprained his shoulder on Wednesday and is out of contact drills for approximately five to seven days according to Muschamp.
--Starting right guard Jon Halapio (pectoral tear) has not been cleared for full-contact drills. “Hope to get him cleared game-week,’’ Muschamp said.
--Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs “continues to improve with his patella and I think he will be cleared game-week,’’ Muschamp said.
--Freshman OL Octavius Jackson (shoulder), defensive back Jaylen Watkins (foot), fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), defensive lineman Alex McCalister (shoulder) and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams (unspecified illness) remain day-to-day. Muschamp said Joyer is expected to miss approximately five to seven more days.
For more notes from Muschamp's press conference, check back with GatorZone.com later.
Six-foot-8, 361-pound offensive lineman Trenton Brown (No. 74) sticks out on the field.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior-college transfer Trenton Brown isn’t the type to walk into a room and take over the conversation.
“He is kind of quiet, but he’s slowly opening up to us, which we really appreciate,’’ senior center Jon Harrison said Thursday.
While Brown might not say much, the conversation has slowly turned toward the 6-foot-8, 361-pound mountain midway into fall camp. Brown started off slow but has quickly moved into the rotation along the offensive line as a reserve at both left and right tackle.
“Trenton Brown is going to play for us this year,’’ Gators coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s a good football player.”
The Gators haven’t had an offensive lineman this big since Max Starks, who checked in at 6-7, 349 pounds his senior season a decade ago.
Brown’s size was a hot topic of conversation among the Gators who spoke to the media Thursday.
“I never want Trent to ever fall on me because if he does I’m pretty sure my body will be imprinted in the grass,’’ sophomore defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. said. “I don’t want that to happen.”
Offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, who at 6-5, 285 pounds isn’t exactly a candidate for a role on “Little People, Big World,” compared Brown to a giant.
“I’ve never seen a lineman that big,’’ Humphries said.
And this from offensive lineman Tyler Moore, who goes 6-5, 320 pounds: “We felt like we were in third grade again looking up at a high-schooler” when he first got here.
Fortunately for the Gators, Brown is more than just a big body. He has shown signs of being a good player after a slow start in camp.
“He’s big, he’s strong, and he can move, so he’s going to be a real good football player,’’ offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.
Brown arrived at UF after two years at Georgia Military College in Albany, Ga. He was a second-team NJCAA All-American last season.
He has focused on getting in better shape and learning better technique early in camp.
“Our guys are making him work,” Pease said.
Fowler has seen enough improvement to know that when he gets fully acclimated to Division I football, Brown will help the Gators.
For now, Fowler is enjoying their one-on-one battles in camp.
“I can beat him around the edge with my speed, but Trent gives good sets sometimes and he can make it difficult,’’ Fowler said. “He’s got a little nasty streak. You don’t want that nasty streak to come out, I can tell you that.”
Thursday August 15, 2013Gators ask fans to refrain from shooting video and photos at open practices
Updated: 12:59pm, August 15
Gators coach Will Muschamp wants to see his team in front of fans tonight at an open practice.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators will practice under the lights at the Donald Dizney Lacrosse Stadium tonight starting at 7:30.
The practice is open to the public, the first of four Florida practices the public is welcome to attend over the next six days. Click here for the complete schedule of the open practices.
As a reminder, the Gators request those in attendance do not shoot video or take photos during the practices. More and more schools across the country have closed practices in recent years as technological advances threaten to compromise competitive advantages if practices are filmed by fans and then posted on the Internet.
Gators coach Will Muschamp was asked about such concerns during his Monday press conference.
“We don’t want anybody to video anything or tape anything, so we’ll have people asking, if they are taping, to shut it down,’’ Muschamp said. “People kind of know who we are, offensively, defensively and on special teams. It’ll be more of a loose-downs practice because we’re going to scrimmage the next day, but that’s what we would do anyways.’’
As for what fans can expect, Muschamp said tonight’s practice will be very similar to what the Gators would do normally prior to Friday’s scheduled scrimmage.
“It’ll be more longer-yardage, one-minute, situational, skeleton, pass rush, a lot of special teams work,’’ he said. “We’re going to practice the way we practice. I just thought it would be good -- we’re going to have to rely on some younger players to help us -- so it’ll be good for those young guys to get out in front of some people. I also feel like positioning the open practices on the 19th and 20th, that’s about when you start to hit the wall in camp. I think it’s good for our guys to get out in front of some people and compete.”
Wednesday August 14, 2013Times change but this 'Norm' remains same for Gators
Updated: 2:21pm, August 26
Gators historian Norm Carlson recently celebrated his 50th anniversary working at UF.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A phone call from Ray Graves is how it all started.
Graves had just finished his third season as Florida’s head coach when in early 1963 he made a call to Norm Carlson, a former sports writer for the Atlanta Journal who was by then sports-information director at Auburn.
During his time as a journalist, Carlson covered Georgia Tech for the Journal and got to know Graves, who was defensive coordinator on Bobby Dodd’s Yellow Jackets staff.
“Bobby Dodd sat up on a tower,’’ Carlson recalled this week. “He would never come off that tower at practice. He would always say, ‘Go over and talk to Ray about it.’ I’d go down and talk to Graves after practice for a little while. I got to know him really well that way.”
Shortly after Florida defeated Penn State in the 1962 Gator Bowl, Graves needed a new ‘publicity director’ as they were called then.
He called Carlson and in Feb. 1963, Carlson returned to his alma mater.
He never left.
Carlson turns 80 on Sept. 7 and continues to maintain an office on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as UF’s historian. In fact, Carlson’s office is located on the same floor where he lived when he first took the Florida job.
“This used to be dormitory space,’’ he said. “I lived up here for two months until I got my family down.”
The UAA honored Carlson’s contributions in 2002 by unveiling the Norm Carlson Press Deck following the completion of a new press box and luxury suites at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Carlson’s 50-year anniversary with the UAA is the latest milestone on his journey with the Gators. He continues to represent the UAA at certain functions and will write once again for the football game programs in 2013.
“It’s been gratifying because we’ve had a lot of success,’’ he said. “I went to school here and graduated from here. I raised a family here. It’s like coming home. That’s what it’s meant to me. I’ve made a lot of friends and seen a lot of people go on and do good things in the world. It makes you feel good that you were around it.”
The stories are the best part of a visit to Carlson’s office. He shared many of them in 2007 when his “University of Florida Football Vault” was published.
Shortly after Carlson returned to UF, Graves began recruiting a quarterback from Johnson City, Tenn., named Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier was just beginning to get into golf around that time. Thanks to Gators punter David Bludworth, he always got to play at the campus golf course on visits to Gainesville.
“Bluddy [Bludworth’s nickname] took him down to the 10th hole. The tee box is around from the pro shop where everybody had their eyes open. He snuck him on the course through the trees there at the 10th hole. Steve thought that was great. Every time he came in for a trip, Bluddy would take him to play golf.
“When Steve got here to play, he would always say, ‘Suddenly that 10th hole was closed.’ Bluddy had a lot to do with the recruitment of Spurrier; had more to do with it than anybody.”
A favorite story of Carlson’s recalls how he and Pepper Rodgers weren’t exactly Tom Petty fans.
Carlson and Rodgers used to live on adjacent streets off Eighth Avenue during Rodgers’ tenure as a UF assistant from 1960-64. Around the same time Petty was just beginning to get into music and cranking up his guitar in a garage nearby.
“We lived on a dead-end circle. On the street behind us was a dead end and Pepper lived down there,’’ Carlson said. “We used to always say, ‘there is this guy up here in this shed at all hours of the night playing this awful music and beating on drums.’ It was Tom Petty as a teenager and what became the Heartbreakers.
“Pepper and I just couldn’t get over that, ‘what the hell is that guy doing?’ You meet a lot of people and collect a lot of stories [in 50 years].”
Prior to leaving the newspaper business for Auburn – Carlson wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and had made lots of friends in Auburn on trips there to cover the Tigers for the Journal – he worked with one of the most celebrated sports columnists of his time, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher.
The sports staff of the early 1960s also included legendary golf writer Ed Miles and baseball writer Bob Christian.
Bisher remained one of Carlson’s favorite writers until his death at 93 in March 2012.
“He was the funniest guy I ever seen,’’ Carlson said. “He was a legend and he was a great writer, one of the best ever in journalism.”
So many years, so many stories.
Carlson had knee replacement surgery earlier this year but has returned to work ready for 51st Gators football season. Carlson also keeps a busy social calendar. He and wife Sylvia have been happily married for 37 years and have eight children between them.
“This is always a fun time of year,’’ he said.
Tuesday August 13, 2013Driskel's background, Taylor's HOF weekend, Floyd's good news, more tidbits
Updated: 12:42pm, August 13
Former Gators RB Fred Taylor one of newest members to Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators held a morning practice and will hit the field again this afternoon for their second two-a-day session of camp.
As they take a break, let’s catch up on some fresh links from around the Internet discussing the current Gators and past ones:
--‘Great Respect’ runs in family for Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel writes Antonya English of Tampa Bay Times.
--Tailback a concern for Gators with Matt Jones still sidelined writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.
--Gators coach Will Muschamp continues to search for pieces of the puzzle on offense writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.
--Florida ranked seventh in merchandise royalties last year writes Darren Rovell of ESPN.com.
--Former Gators DT Sharrif Floyd received good news Monday that his knee has no major damage writes USA Today’s tom Pelissero.
--Former Gators RB Fred Taylor was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.
--Want to smell like an Alabama man or Florida woman? Now you can with SEC fragrances available from Masik Collegiate Fragrances. Al.com with the details.
--SI.com takes a look at games you can’t miss in 2013 and Florida at Miami in Week 2 on list.
--UF compliance director Jamie McCloskey talks to CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler about how UF dealt with Tebowmania.
--Gators buck linebacker Ronald Powell is using Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as inspiration coming off two major knee surgeries writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com’s GatorNation.
--The SEC will have guaranteed bowl spots for at least 10 of its 14 members beginning in 2014 writes Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com.
--Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde writes about how former Gators coach Urban Meyer has sped up Ohio State’s pace to catch SEC.
--Cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson lead way for corner-rich Gators defense writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Former Gators LB Jon Bostic impresses the Bears as a rookie writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
--Florida fans who watched Caleb Sturgis won’t be surprised that he kicked a 58-yard field on his birthday
Saturday August 10, 2013Former Gator Joe Cohen ready to take different path after earning his degree Saturday
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The pro football life was starting to take a toll on former Gators defensive lineman Joe Cohen.
Since he finished his career at Florida in the 2007 BCS national championship win over Ohio State, Cohen had fought off injuries and bounced around the NFL and CFL. He played for Detroit in 2009 and spent last season with the Toronto Argonauts.
With a wife and four kids, Cohen sat down last November to talk to his wife about their future.
“It’s just time for me to move on from football,’’ Cohen told her. “It’s time for me to put on my big-boy pants and see if I can do something.”
One of the first calls he made was to UF, where Tony Meacham, assistant director of academic services in the Office of Student Life, set up a plan for Cohen to return to school and finish his Anthropology degree.
“He was there every step of the way,’’ Cohen said.
Cohen enrolled in classes in January, 25 hours short of his degree. He took his final test on Thursday and on Saturday afternoon received his degree at the O’Connell Center during the summer commencement ceremony.
The 29-year-old Cohen has a much different perspective on what that means than the 18-year-old who showed up from Palm Bay 11 years ago as one of the state’s top football recruits.
“I worked so hard between working a regular job, coming up here for school, pulling doubles on the weekend, leaving my family back at home, between all that, I’m going to celebrate this to the max,’’ Cohen said. “I want everybody to know that I graduated. Everyone knew I got drafted, which was cool, but I really didn’t celebrate that. But this I’m celebrating.”
Cohen played in 48 games for the Gators from 2002 to 2006, starting out at fullback and then later developing into a starting defensive tackle. He was drafted by San Francisco in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
As he tried to scratch out a career in professional football, Cohen’s family grew and his goals did, too.
In his final game for Toronto, Cohen made five tackles. He got injured and was cut soon afterward and made the life-altering decision to leave the game that had been his primary outlet since he was a kid in Brevard County.
“It’s better late than never,’’ he said.
He knows he made the right decision. Cohen has spent the past seven months driving back and forth from Palm Bay to Gainesville on Tuesdays and Thursdays to finish school. He also had a full-time job back home.
“I knew if I put all my energy into my school and business endeavors, everything would work out just fine and as of right now the ball is rolling,’’ Cohen said. “I have been so focused on trying to stay healthy, trying to get healthy, trying to get back to the NFL – all my energy was on getting back to the NFL.
“I was neglecting the little things that I need to really focus on, which was school and becoming a business man outside of football because everybody knows football doesn’t last long. I’m trying to become dependent on myself instead of depending on football.”
Cohen and his wife want to start their own business and he plans to stay involved in working with kids. He currently works at Devereux, a nonprofit behavioral health organization that provides support to underserved and vulnerable people in communities across the country.
There is work ahead to reach some of his new goals outside of football. Cohen is looking forward to the challenges.
But on Saturday, it was time to celebrate with a large group of family and friends who made the trip to Gainesville for his graduation.
“I told everybody it’s an open invite,’’ he said. “It’s just been so cool to get as much love as I’ve gotten from the University of Florida. It’s one of the best places I’ve been and I’m just so glad I chose to go to school there when I was 18 years old. It’s time to make adults moves instead of playing football in the backyard.”
Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison tackles Heisman winner Johnny Manziel last season.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel wasn’t the only Gator back at practice Thursday night.
Following a heart-to-heart conversation on Wednesday with sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison, Gators coach Will Muschamp allowed Morrison to rejoin his teammates following a pair of off-the-field incidents over the summer that prompted Muschamp to suspend Morrison.
“It’s part of being the head coach,’’ Muschamp said Friday. “When a young man has poor judgment, you work them through it and you educate them and you help them, and that’s what we’re doing. I don’t treat these guys any differently that I treat my sons. It’s called tough love.”
Morrison finished spring practice projected to be the Gators’ starting middle linebacker. Morrison made 34 tackles as a freshman, including a forced fumble against Florida State that turned the momentum in Florida’s favor.
Muschamp announced last month that Morrison was suspended and would miss the season’s first two games. Whether that suspension might be reduced due to new information and Morrison’s attitude remains uncertain. Morrison won't be able to work in full pads until his fifth practice due to the NCAA-mandated acclimation period all players are subject to.
“He’s still working through some things for me,’’ Muschamp said. “We’re working through that at this point. I feel like missing a week of camp was a pretty strong statement to him and where I stood with some things. He's still a part of our team. He was never not part of our team. He was just suspended from all team activities."
From Bolingbrook, Ill., the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Morrison played in all 13 games last season after choosing Florida over Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona and Purdue.
Friday August 9, 2013Gators freshman LB Rolin out with knee injury, other injury news from Muschamp
Updated: 1:09pm, August 9
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Linebacker Matt Rolin's debut for the Gators won't come as soon as expected.
A freshman who enrolled early, Gators coach Will Muschamp confirmed Friday that Rolin suffered a season-ending knee injury at practice Wednesday night.
Rolin (photo) arrived at UF in January recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee that cost him the final portion of his season at Briar Woods (Va.) High. The latest injury to the same knee happened during a “non-contact” drill when Rolin's knee buckled, Muschamp said, the same type of season-ending injury suffered by senior receiver Andre Debose on Tuesday.
“I really hurt for both of those guys,’’ Muschamp said.
Rolin, expected to play on special teams and contribute on defense, tweeted his disappointment on Thursday.
“It's depressing when you work harder than you ever have in your life to get back to playing the sport you love and you find out it' [for] nothin’,” the dejected Rolin posted.
Muschamp talked to Rolin and his father Thursday and is confident Rolin can get back for next season.
“It’s disheartening,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got the right support people around him to help him through this. He’ll handle it well. He’s a tough kid."
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Rolin's versatility made him a candidate to earn playing time as a true freshman. He can play inside or outside linebacker and was getting regular reps early in fall camp. Rolin was part of a strong signing class of linebackers that also includes Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian and Jarrad Davis.
Rolin originally committed to South Carolina but opted to sign with the Gators after a visit to campus late last year. Several major programs recruited him after helping Briar Woods win three consecutive state championships as a linebacker/tight end.
Meanwhile, in other injury news, Muschamp said defensive lineman Damien Jacobs (sprained knee) is out approximately 10 days, and that defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot) is expected to miss about a week.
In addition, freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson will undergo surgery today to repair a pre-existing meniscus injury from high school and is expected to be unavailable for three to four weeks.
Finally, offensive lineman Max Garcia (back) has been cleared for non-contact drills and should be ready to go full-speed early next week according to Muschamp. Starting right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral muscle) is scheduled to visit the doctor this week to see how he is progressing. Both Garcia and Halapio were hurt prior to the start of camp.
Muschamp said running back Matt Jones, the other offensive starter out prior to camp, continues to do cardio training to get back in shape and that there is still no timetable on his return to the practice field.
The good news on the injury front is that junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed the first six practices due to an appendectomy, returned to action Thursday night.
Check back with GatorZone.com later for a story off Driskel’s press conference earlier today.
Wednesday August 7, 2013Burton takes his "a little bit of everything" attitude into his senior season
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Trey Burton has played for two head coaches and worn two numbers at Florida. He has tried to scrape out yards under three offensive coordinators.
A lot has changed in Burton’s time at UF. Still, there has been one constant: Burton’s willingness to do whatever it takes to avoid standing on the sideline.
“Hopefully a little bit of everything,’’ Burton said Tuesday when asked what position he expects to play as a senior.
Did you really expect any other answer from one of 44 players on the Paul Hornung Award watch list to honor the country’s most versatile player?
Burton has reached the point in his career when others refer to him as a veteran, far removed from that six-touchdown game against Kentucky as a freshman. On the current roster, only offensive linemen Jon Halapio, Jon Harrison and Kyle Koehne have played more games for the Gators than Burton’s 38. He has started 22.
Burton has played quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end, receiver and H-back. He is working as the holder on field goals. Burton has played special teams and probably knows enough about Florida’s defense to sneak in for a play or two on that side if needed.
He really has been Mr. Versatile in his three seasons.
Trying to define Burton’s identity has never been easy. Football player seems most appropriate. However, with the Gators in need of receivers, Burton has worked primarily at that position early in camp.
“I’m with [receivers coach] Joker Phillips a lot, so that's good," Burton said.
Burton’s most productive season came as a freshman when he rushed for 349 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers dropped significantly as a sophomore when Burton was under utilized in Charlie Weis’ one season as UF’s offensive coordinator.
When Brent Pease arrived prior to Burton’s junior season, Burton’s touches didn’t go up but his production did. He averaged career highs for yards per rush (6.6) and per catch (9.6).
Besides his six-touchdown game against Kentucky in 2010, Burton’s signature moment for the Gators came in last year’s 37-20 win at Tennessee. Burton’s 80-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter shifted momentum to the Gators and they parlayed his run into the game’s final 24 points.
Burton’s has only 37 receptions the past two seasons but his role in the passing game could increase as the Gators search for dependable hands and playmakers for Jeff Driskel to throw to.
“The guy we forget about is Trey Burton,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “He's going to be in the slot for us and does a lot for us there. We obviously will have a Trey Burton [wildcat] package, which was very effective for us last year.”
So, you could see Burton line up at receiver some, then take a snap here and there out of the shotgun, perhaps line up in the backfield occasionally.
In other words, a little bit of everywhere.
Wherever he plays, Burton will likely have the ball in his hands a few times each game. That is the way he wants it.
He expects the offense to be a “lot smoother” in the second year under Pease.
“The second year in any offense is going to be better,’’ Burton said. “A lot of guys know the stuff, what to do and where to go.”
The “where” is usually the only question for Burton.
Tuesday August 6, 2013Gators face nation's most difficult schedule according to Phil Steele's rankings
Updated: 1:30pm, August 6
The Gators face the nation's most difficult schedule in 2013 according to Phil Steele.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Playing a difficult schedule is nothing new for the Gators. That’s just a fact of life in the SEC.
Still, some years are more difficult than others. A year ago, based on the NCAA’s method of using opponents’ win/loss records, Florida finished the season with the nation’s toughest schedule.
According to college football analyst Phil Steele, that ranking won’t change in 2013.
Known for his number crunching and in-depth NCAA preview magazines, Steele’s formula includes his “9 sets of Power Ratings” and the amount of home and away games.
I’m going to use Steele’s own words to explain his “nine sets of Power Ratings” methodology:
“If you are a follower of my magazine, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I have nine different sets of power ratings that I create each preseason to give me nine different ways of analyzing a team. One is based on the individual talent level and performance of each position on each team and those are added up for the rating. Another is based on my Power Plays numbers, which include rushing and passing offenses, defenses and special teams. Another is a continually updated power rating based on the score of the games and the strength of opponent. Finally a few years back, before computers became part of the BCS rankings system, there was without a doubt some flaws in the polls. Teams rated #2 or #3 in the country really were not that talented and were maybe the fifth- or sixth-best. One Internet site decided to produce a poll of some of the top analysts and experts each week and invited me to join. I myself work 365 days a year. During magazine time (March, April, May) and throughout the football season (August through January) there are many 15-18 hour days put in and all of them are spent solely working on football. When they invited me to join the poll, I wanted to give them the best set of power ratings in the country to help make the poll as accurate as possible. The dilemma I had was which set? What I decided to do was combine all eight into one rating which gives me a very solid overall ranking for each team. The rating takes into account EVERY factor, using it as my main set of power ratings, which thus created my ninth set.”
As you can see, Steele takes rankings seriously and while measuring strength of schedule is not an exact science and certainly includes some level of subjective analysis, Steele’s system takes into several factors that others do not.
Once he calculated the rankings entering the 2013 season, the Gators finished on top.
Florida opens the season at home against Toledo, and then visits Miami for the first time in a decade. The Gators travel to LSU and South Carolina this season, they face Georgia in Jacksonville, and they host Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State. Florida also has road games at Kentucky and Missouri and home games against Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern.
To check out Steele’s complete rankings, click on this link.
Here are Steele’s 10 toughest schedules in 2013: 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. California, 4. Purdue, 5. Arkansas, 6. Iowa State, 7. Colorado, 8. Stanford, 9. Kentucky and 10. Kansas.
The Gators are one of three SEC teams in the top 10, joining Arkansas and Kentucky.
For more on Steele’s rankings, check out this blog from FBSchedules.com.
Monday August 5, 2013Position change came at perfect time for Gideon, last name Ajagbe (un-JOB-ee)
Updated: 8:10am, August 5
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The new guy in the Gators' backfield trips up offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
The same is probably true for most of us.
In the spring, when talking about No. 25, Pease quipped, "Gideon ... I'm not even sure how to say his whole name."
Pease was talking about redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe (uh-JOB-ee), whose career up to this point includes four games, one season-ending rotator cuff injury and a season-ending knee injury.
Add a position change, too.
The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Ajagbe began his career at linebacker. After last season, Gators coach Will Muschamp called Ajagbe into his office. Muschamp asked if Ajagbe would move to fullback to see if he could help the team at that position.
Ajagbe quickly said yes and in spring practice earned the backup spot behind starter Hunter Joyer.
That didn't surprise Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy, Ajagbe's former roommate.
"I know he is hard worker,'' Murphy said. "He is dedicated. [We] both kind of went through struggles, not getting much playing time. I know he is anxious to get out there and prove himself. Just watching him myself, he's done a great job.
"He is a physical fullback. We're excited about what Gideon brings to the table."
So is the coaching staff. Pease offered nothing but praise in the spring when Ajagbe's name came up.
Muschamp liked what he saw, too.
"Gideon has been really productive for us,” Muschamp said. “One hit [to Joyer] and you're out of it. So you've got to be careful how you invest your time with a guy when you don't have much depth at the position. All of a sudden, we feel very comfortable."
While fullback is new to Ajagbe, toting the football is not.
At Ransom Everglades High, Ajagbe rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior season. He arrived at UF in 2010 and was redshirted because of a rotator cuff injury. After playing four games late in the 2011 season on special teams, Ajagbe suffered a knee injury in fall camp last season and never played.
The position switch served as a lifeline.
"I was really glad with the change. I really needed it,'' he said. "I worked a lot with the coaches on the transition. I went into the spring trying to be consistent every single day. Obviously there are some things I can do and do well, but I was more worried about being consistent, learning the techniques and getting better at the things I wasn't good at.
"That's the same focus I'm going to have in camp."
While Joyer is entrenched as the starter, Ajagbe and redshirt freshman Rhaheim Ledbetter, who moved from safety in the spring, now add some depth.
Ajagbe hasn't played since Florida's win over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl in January 2012, so simply having a defined role this season is a move in the right direction.
"I'm not trying to 'wow' anybody, but just trying to be consistent and get better every day in what I'm supposed to do,'' he said.
If successful, his last name should be less daunting for Pease and everyone else.
Second-string quarterback Tyler Murphy was popular at UF Media Day on Thursday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators hold their third practice of the season later today.
The season opener against Toledo is now less than four weeks away, so the long summer without football is quickly coming to a close -- I think that's something we can all agree is a good thing.
To get you caught up on some stories early in camp, here is a look at some links from around the Internet:
--Gators cornerback Jeremy Brown is the last man standing from UF's national championship team writes Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley.
--Backup quarterback Tyler Murphy is trying to make the most of his opportunity with starter Jeff Driskel sidelined writes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.
--Florida Today columnist John Torres writes about young defensive back Marcus Maye's culture shock his first season with the Gators.
--Gainesville Sun beat writer Robbie Andreu previews the Gators' special teams units.
--The viral infection that has Gators running back Matt Jones down at the start of camp came on fast and furious writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--A feature on former Gators running back Mike Gillislee by the AP via Jacksonville.com.
--Five position battles to watch during Florida's camp from Orlando Sentinel beat writer Edgar Thompson.
--Will Muschamp was at media day, he mentioned that woodpeckers don't get concussions due to an extra bone in their neck, there was a follow-up question and a sharp answer, and the story ends up all over the Internet, even for readers of the San Francisco Chronicle. The information age moves fast and far.