Meyer could look to Hunter on D-line

Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 11:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 11:38 p.m.

One of the trouble spots during Florida’s spring practices last year has reared its head again.

After UF coach Urban Meyer feared his defensive line wouldn’t shape up by the start of the 2008 season, the Gators line turned into one of the most dominant in the Southeastern Conference.

All those starters are back, but UF lost two of its younger linemen in Torrey Davis and John Brown earlier this spring and Meyer is now scrambling to find some depth both inside and out.

“Earl Okine went inside, so we only have four ends right now,” Meyer said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s not enough. I keep hearing about our depth and a loaded group, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be right now.”

With starter Terron Sanders limited (left calf), Meyer is hoping to find a spark on his line and that could come from the one player who was expected to break out last year.

Omar Hunter arrived at UF with almost as much hype as quarterback Tim Tebow, but after battling a major back injury, a bad ankle and an elbow issue, Hunter spent most of 2008 either watching from the sidelines or working with trainers.

Now, Hunter says he’s at full health and is looking to make an impact on the interior of the defensive line. With the help of strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, Hunter has dropped 25 pounds and is down to 305.

Hunter said he’s finally found confidence in his game and is hoping to be a main contributor at nose tackle, whether he starts or not.

“I have to play the backup role to (Lawrence) Marsh until he leaves, that’s fine,” he said. “I just want to get in and help the team out.”

Wilson stepping up

After suffering stress fractures in both his feet, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman James Wilson is competing to be UF’s new starting left guard.

Wilson said the fractures were found shortly after the SEC Championship game and that he didn’t start jogging again until the offseason. Sprinting didn’t begin until right before Spring Break.

There’s still some soreness, but Wilson said he’s been pushing through and is not settling for a back-up job this year.

“I’m in my third year; time is running out,” he said.

“I have three years of eligibility and I want to be a three-year starter.”

Jenkins moving around

Sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins was one of the top freshman cornerbacks in the country in 2008, finishing the year with 39 total tackles and three interceptions.

He’s been starting opposite junior Joe Haden for some time now, but the coaches are planning to use him inside more this season.

“I’m the starting cornerback,” Jenkins said, “but on nickel packages I move to nickel.”

Jenkins said that senior Wondy Pierre-Louis plays outside when he’s inside.

Jenkins isn’t taking this as a demotion and he said he feels he can make plays from anywhere on the field.

“I fit in best anywhere,” he said. “I just want to be on the field and go out and be able to make plays and help my team to a victory.”


New Fort Meade head coach and former Gator Jemalle Cornelius was at practice Wednesday with a few of his players. Cornelius finished his career at UF with more than 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns … Jenkins was asked Wednesday about former Pahokee teammate Nu’Keese Richardson, who spurned UF on Signing Day for Tennessee, and while he didn’t have much to say, he did make it clear that the issue is dead. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I don’t care.”

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