FILE: Hornsby's future rests on defense

Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 1:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Jamar Hornsby didn't know whether he would end up a receiver or safety when he stepped on the Florida campus at this time last fall.

"It didn't really matter to me, safety or receiver," Hornsby said. "I just wanted to help this team the best way to win."

After redshirting last season, it appears that Hornsby's future is on the defensive side of the ball. Hornsby is one of several candidates pushing senior Kyle Jackson for the starting free safety job at UF.

"That's motivation every morning when I wake up, knowing that's an open position," Hornsby said. "That boosts me up to work hard every day."

At 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds with 4.5-second, 40-yard dash speed, Hornsby could have been as adept running pass patterns in Florida coach Urban Meyer's spread offense. Instead, Hornsby is using those skills to adjust to playing safety at the college level.

"It took me a little while, just learning defense," Hornsby said. "You know, from not backpedaling so much, trying to come out of those breaks. Playing receiver, it kind of helped me a little bit coming out of those breaks a little faster."

Hornsby still showed he had the hands and anticipation of a receiver when he made a diving interception last week in practice. The Jacksonville native has worked both at strong and free safety through the first week-and-a-half of practices, and could find himself working behind starting strong safety Tony Joiner this season.

"I'm still learning," Hornsby said. "I've got a long way to go, Tony and Kyle are good players, but those guys are leading me in the right path right now."

<i>Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or</i>

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