Notebook: Logjam at safety


Published: Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 6:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 6:01 p.m.

Following the Orange & Blue Debut, Gator coach Urban Meyer said his team has the good fortune of having four potential starters at safety in Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Will Hill and Dorian Munroe.

That suits at least two of them just fine.

"If you have four starters, that's great," said Munroe, back after missing the 2008 season with a torn ACL. "You can't take a day off (or somebody else will pass you)."

"It's very competitive at any position," Hill said. "Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to get their claim to fame or just contribute to the team and it's a battle every day because of the steady competition within the team.

"To get your name called out at the beginning of the game just means the world right now."

FRESHMAN OF INFLUENCE: Meyer said he has been impressed with the work of true freshman linebacker Jon Bostic this spring. In fact the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder from Palm Beach Central will be counted on to contribute next season, even though UF's top 22 defensive players return from its BCS championship squad.

"He's playing," Meyer said. "So, the redshirt's gone and he's battling for a starting job."

Bostic led the Orange team with four tackles.

MVPs: No most valuable players of the Orange & Blue Debut were named, but statistically these players had the best games (some played for both teams):

Offense Quarterback John Brantley (14-for-23 for 265 yards with three touchdowns and one interception), receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. (four receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns, one run for 9 yards) and running back Christopher Scott (14 carries for 80 yards).

Defense Linebacker Brendan Beal (game-high 13 tackles, including eight solo, and an interception), defensive end Duke Lemmons (four tackles, including a sack), Bostic and safety Dorian Munroe (two tackles, an interception return for 30 yards).

MORE PRIDE: The first touchdown of the spring game was scored on a 2-yard pass from Tim Tebow to fullback T.J. Pridemore in the opening quarter.

"It felt good," Pridemore said. "It felt really good.

"The first thing about it was I was excited, but after that I know that my teammates were doing everything they could and they set it up, starting with the line and Tebow. I was just doing my job, doing what I'm supposed to do because I know they're doing the same thing."

Pridemore also gave an update on fellow fullback Steven Wilks, who tore his ACL earlier in the spring and could miss the 2009 season.

"He's doing real well," Pridemore said. "He's always in good spirits. Wilks is a really tough kid and he'll bounce back. They're going to operate on him in the next week or so and he'll start rehabbing to get back to us as soon as he can."

RECRUITS: Among the high school prospects in attendance were quarterback Trey Burton (2010 commit), tight end Clay Burton, running back Mack Brown, defensive back Jonathan Dowling (2010 commit), athlete Jordan Haden, offensive lineman Kyle Koehne (2009 signee), linebacker Justin Maclin, safety Travis Bell, athlete Tavares Barnes, offensive lineman Ian Silberman (2010 commit), offensive/defensive lineman Leon Orr (2010 commit) and offensive lineman Xavier Nixon (2009 signee).

EXTRA POINTS: Only six projected offensive starters played Saturday Tebow, running back Chris Rainey, receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive lineman Carl Johnson, James Wilson and Marcus Gilbert. No defensive starters played (though safety Major Wright did participate on special teams, which included very limited contact), and Tebow watched the entire second half while John Brantley quarterbacked the Orange and the Blue teams. ... The Gators are scheduled to visit The White House on Thursday in recognition of their 2008 BCS national championship. The members of that team also were presented with their BCS rings on Saturday. ... Rainey won the "Fastest Gator" contest in the pregame with a 4.29 40-yard dash. Rainey, running back Emmanuel Moody, receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. and cornerback Adrian Bushell all participated, as did several non-football-playing UF students. Jeff Demps, who also is a member of the Gator track team, did not run or play in Saturday's game. ... It was announced that 65,000 people were in attendance at the Orange & Blue Debut. Meyer was impressed. "I want to tell the Gator Nation, that's something else. We average more for a spring game than most do for a home game." He then smiled and added, "that's a recruiting speech." ... Meyer said Aaron Hernandez struggled early in his career with all that is expected out of a college athlete. However, Meyer followed up by adding the junior tight end is a different player and person now and just came off "his best three months probably of his life." Hernandez didn't play in the spring game but has been one of the team's biggest bright spots in spring practice. ... Meyer said he expects Demps, Rainey or incoming freshman Andre Debose to play the hybrid receiver/running back role Percy Harvin was so effective at in recent seasons. ... Brantley said one of the things he worked on most this spring was forgetting about bad plays right after they happen. He said he used to get frustrated and let those moments linger.

Contact John Patton at 374-5074 or at pattonj@gvillesun.com.

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