Bowl season is underway and Jim McElwain’s Florida Gators are looking forward to their New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl match up with Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. Being that the match up is a little more than two weeks away, McElwain provided some updates surrounding his team.
McElwain announced December 18th will be the first official team practice for the squad following their SEC Championship defeat by the Alabama Crimson Tide. The seniors and players that have declared for the NFL draft will not be involved in the first two to three practices but will be back the second week when the Gators begin game preparation. When asked how many players will return next season, McElwain said the team has more than five players that are deciding whether or not to enter the NFL Draft; only defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III is a definite to leave early. Overall, the Gators seem to be excited to take the big stage on New Year’s Day and McElwain thinks it will turn out to be an exciting, fun game for all.
McElwain also stated that the Gators’ time off has helped them heal but some injuries are still being watched carefully. Defensive end Bryan Cox Jr’s injured hip is improving and he is said to return for the bowl game, as well as defensive end Taven Bryan who will return after not playing last week. On the other hand, Brandon Powell is questionable (foot), Alex McCalister is out for the rest of the season and kicker Neil MacInnes will be out with a hurt knee.
There is also news surrounding quarterback Will Grier. While he will not practice in the coming days or travel to the bowl, McElwain said he will resume all team activities January 5th, 2016, ending some speculation that Grier would not return to the Gators as he serves an NCAA mandated suspension.
Finally, after a busy week of recruiting Coach McElwain expressed his excitement for the “renewed interest and excitement about guys being Gators” and believes there is a bright future ahead for the Florida football program.