If there was one word to describe the first spring practice for the Florida Gator football team on Monday, it would be fast. Right out of the gate, players were juiced with energy and offensive guard Antonio Riles is glad with the way things are heading.
“I like the direction everybody’s going. I like the way thing’s are going. I think we took the right step in the right direction.”
This first spring practice marks the first time Jim McElwain held a practice as Florida’s head coach. McElwain was hired back in December to replace then head coach and now Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. McElwain has proven success in the SEC as offensive coordinator of Alabama for the 2009 and 2011 championship teams. McElwain shared what he thinks makes a team successful.
“I don’t really have any magic potions here. The key is invest in yourself, give up yourself for the benefit of others, and be accountable for everything you do. Your actions speak louder than words.”
A lot of questions are surrounding the Florida offensive line. The Gators lost Max Garcia, Chaz Green, DJ Humphries and others because of graduation and the NFL Draft. Coach McElwain was able to recruit one of the best offensive linemen in the 2015 recruiting class in Martez Ivey. Ivey will be coming to campus this August. Sophomore offensive tackle David Sharpe says he is going to tell Ivey that the transition from high school to college is going to be difficult.
“It is going to be difficult to come in and play. Coach Summers (Gator offensive line coach) is going to have to gain your trust. He goes with trust over ability.”
The defensive line lost a lot of big players as well, most notably Dante Fowler Jr. who could be a top five pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Darius Cummings, Gerald Willis III, and Leon Orr are no longer on the roster. Players like defensive tackle Joey Ivie are expected to gain a bigger role in the rotation. Ivie simply wants to be a leader through his actions.
“Me personally, I want to lead by working hard. Not quitting. Showing all these younger guys what effort does for you.”
The next practice will be on Wednesday.
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