Muschamp excited about direction of Gators


Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 7:36 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE — The Will Muschamp spring speaking tour stopped at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds on Tuesday night, almost in the shadow of EverBank Field, where the Florida Gators play Georgia every season.

Different location, but Muschamp stayed on message, saying he feels good about where the Gators are and where they appear to be heading going into his second season.

“We are where we are. We're 15-11 the last two years,” Muschamp said. “I think we're on the upswing. I think we've recruited well. I think our upcoming junior class has some really good players in it. I think our senior class has got some mature guys that are ready to have a good year.

“I think our upcoming junior class for the most part played for the first time last season. … I'm excited about where things are headed at this point.”

Muschamp repeated what he has said at every Gator Gathering this spring: UF is a better team now than it was at any point last season..

“The cohesiveness offensively and being more physical and running the ball, we are better than we were at any point last year because of experience, because of knowledge, because we've kept some continuity with some things terminology-wise,” he said. “I'm excited about where we're headed.”

At the moment, Muschamp's players are preparing to head into the offseason with the conclusion of final exams this week. He said the Gators go into the summer in fine academic standing, including the incoming freshman class, which he said appears be fully qualified.

Muschamp was asked if he could reveal UF's team GPA for the spring semester after it was reported earlier this week that SEC rival Tennessee's team grade point average in the fall was a paltry 2.08.

“We're not done with school yet, but we're comfortable where we are,” he said. “We're a lot higher than that (2.08).”

As for the message he's given his players regarding staying out of trouble this summer, Muschamp kept it simple and stern.

“Make good choices and decisions if you want to be part of this team,” he said.

Muschamp said a few weeks ago that he anticipated some attrition, with one or two players choosing to transfer. But that hasn't happened yet, he said.

“Not at this time,” he said. “We've still got a couple of players here and there I've talked to that have a couple of things, but nobody is concrete right now. At the end of the day, I want guys to be at Florida. If they don't want to be there, we'll move forward with somebody else.”

One player who is still on the team is sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard, who is on probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor battery in early April.

Muschamp said Leonard will face a suspension of an undetermined length this season.

“He's still working through a lot of things for me, day to day, week to week, month to month as far as his status with our football team,” Muschamp said. “He's still on our team. He's a part of our football team. I didn't let him participate in the spring game. He's working out with our team. He's still a part of our football team, but how he conducts himself through this time until August will (determine) how much time he'll be apart of our team.”

Muschamp also gave an update on starting Buck linebacker/defensive end Ronald Powell, who underwent knee surgery last week to repair a torn ACL.

“The guy is in there every day rehabbing. I saw him this morning,” Muschamp said. “He's going back to the doctor Friday. He's going to make leaps and bounds progress early on.

“In my history with ACLs, it's that last 30 percent in how quickly that will happen when he's cutting, changing direction, putting weight on it. It's those sort of things that are the tell-tale. I don't know if there's anybody attacking it harder than he is that I've ever been around.”

The original prognosis was that Powell would be out from four to six months.

“I'd still hang in there with that,” Muschamp said. “But, still that last 30 percent will be critical. How quickly he's able to cut and put weight on it. The pounding you are going to take week in and week out. We won't clear him until he's 100 percent.”

As for his own schedule this summer, Muschamp said he will be busy. He said he'll squeeze in two weeks of vacation at the end of June and early in July.

“I'm preparing fall camp schedules, preparing our fall camp as far as what we need to do, which is about a week-long process to make sure we're getting and seeing what we need to see,” he said.”In June we'll have a week when our staff will be in to finalize our recruiting board for next year as we go into the fall.

“We'll finalize our first four game opponents, so we will sit down and full game-plan our first four opponents on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Then we have summer camp. So, we're still very busy even though you can't be on the road recruiting.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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