Teammates help each other at UF


D.J. Humphries says Florida teammate Xavier Nixon has helped him this season

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.

Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and kicker Austin Hardin have a few things in common.

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D.J. Humphries says Florida teammate Xavier Nixon has helped him this season

Doug Finger/Staff photographer

Both are true freshmen at Florida, played in high school All-American games and were ranked No. 1 at their position by ESPN.

Each one of them also has a senior that’s helped them get acclimated at UF.

For Humphries, it’s been fellow North Carolina native Xavier Nixon. The two built a relationship last year and it’s carried over into this season.

“I saw him a lot when he was here for recruiting,” Nixon said of Humphries. “And him coming from North Carolina, I felt like a sense of pride to teach him the game and how to take college head on and not get overwhelmed with school and schedule.”

Nixon is the most experienced player on Florida’s offensive line with 30 starts in his career. In 2009, he became the first true freshman to start at left tackle since Reggie Green in 1992.

Humphries has continued the tradition, having played in all 10 games this year and starting three. Nixon sees similarities between he and Humphries.

“We both love to compete,” he said. “Every day I see the fire in his eyes to want to get better. I’m very proud of the man he’s becoming.”

Hardin has been guided by Caleb Sturgis, a three-time semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award and one of the best kickers in school history. Hardin has tried to soak up knowledge from Sturgis since he reported to campus.

“When he came here, I think one of the first days he came out and kicked with me,” Sturgis said. “He’s always asking questions about things, and I think that’s good.”

Hardin made a 59-yard game-winner in high school and has videos of himself on YouTube hitting 65-yard field goals.

“He’s got a strong leg and is a bigger guy,” Sturgis said of the 207-pound Hardin. “I think with a lot of kickers, it just takes you a little while to get comfortable with the situation. It’s a big difference from high school to college. I think this year has given him good time to really fit into the role and he’ll be really good in the future.”

Garcia, Dunker show promise

The future also looks bright for UF offensive linemen Jessamen Dunker and Max Garcia.

Dunker enrolled early with Humphries and will redshirt this year, while Garcia transferred from Maryland in April and is sitting out this season per NCAA rules.

But both players have impressed Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease in practice and are expected to compete for a starting job in 2013.

“Max is a great kid and works hard,” Pease said. “The defensive guys say great things about him. He’ll do whatever you ask and he’s tough. I’m excited to get him when we can.

“Dunker hasn’t played and he’s still in development. You get diminishing returns playing him at this stage, but the kid’s gonna be a great player. I think he’s on the right track and now we’ll have him for four years.”

Driskel, Orr updates

UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday that quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) would be in a protective walking boot this week.

However, Driskel was spotted Tuesday on crutches and his right foot was in an ankle brace with laces.

Pease said the crutches are routine procedure for sprained ankles.

“Anytime you have an injury like that, you’re trying to alleviate pressure on your leg to increase the rehab time so it improves a lot faster and you’re not stressing it with weight. That’s just what they do with everybody,” Pease said.

Buck linebacker Ronald Powell posted a picture on Instagram Tuesday of defensive tackle Leon Orr. The photo showed Orr standing on a body weight scale that read 291.8 pounds.

Orr, who is listed at 305 pounds on Florida’s roster, was recently released from the hospital for a kidney infection and the flu. He is not scheduled to return until the week following the FSU game.

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