Gator Sportshop
Gator Ticket Office

Chris Harry’s Blog Harry Fodder

Thursday August 7, 2014 UFO at UF football practice ... and working for the Gators

Updated: 5:15pm, August 7

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Dizney Lacrosse Stadium, site of Florida’s preseason football practices, doesn’t have room in the north end zone to set up a crane or tower to film practice.

Not that the UF video staff needed to an excuse to play with its new toy.

From the bleacher seats during the team's upcoming open practices -- which start with Thursday night’s 7:40-9:40 workout -- Gators fans will see a UFO-looking device hovering over the offensive and defensive line drills. If they pan the field, they’ll also see Reuel Joaquin, who heads up football video operations, with his eyes to the sky and operating a remote control flying camera drone that provides coaches with a unique perspective for their film study.

“It’s the first time, so we’re kind of just getting used to it,” Joaquin said during Wednesday night’s practice.

His “test flight” was a success.

With a Go-Pro camera Joaquin mounted to its belly, the drone cranks four propellers to keep it airborne. From the ground, Joaquin uses a mobile device app on his iPhone to view the video feed and guide the drone to who and where it wants to film.

From 30-40 feet above -- and, yes, it can go much, much higher -- the drone footage provides a much broader variety of angles that give coaches different, birds-eye views of the spacing between linemen, rush lanes and pass protections, all of which can be rolled into it their evaluations.

Joaquin said he worked with the device over the previous four days before launching it Wednesday and sending it over the heads of Will Muschamp’s players and staff. The vertical moves weren't as difficult to master as the lateral ones. Either way, Joaquin made sure he had confidence in his remotve-control piloting skills before putting the drone into live action.

After all, the last thing center Max Garcia needs while calling out line protections is a flying saucer crashing on top of his helmet.

Didn’t happen. Not even close.   

“I told Coach Muschamp we were thinking safety first,” Joaquin said. “I’m keeping it out of harm’s way.”

When its mission was done, Joaquin brought the robot down to the turf for a very soft (and impressive) landing. Good stuff.

And Thursday morning, Muschamp raved about the football during his staff meeting.

Towers, it seems, are so yesterday.

Florida Athletics - A Championship Experience with Integrity - Vision Statement
  • University of Florida
  • NCAA
  • FOX Sports Sun / FOX Sports Florida
  • IMG
  • SEC Network

© 1998 - 2015 University Athletic Assoc., Inc., FOX Sports Sun & IMG College. All Rights Reserved.