UF's Anzalone out for rest of spring
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 2:36 p.m.
Five-star recruit Alex Anzalone's bid for immediate playing time at middle linebacker for the Florida Gators has taken a significant hit.
Anzalone underwent surgery Monday after injuring his right shoulder in practice Saturday and will miss the remainder of spring drills.
“He will be back for fall camp,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “That's usually a four-month situation there, so he'll be cleared for fall camp.
“It's a (torn) labrum, right shoulder. It's a freak deal, a tackling drill. He just got hit on it the wrong way. I'm disappointed for him, but he's going to be a really good player. We're going to be fine.”
One of eight early enrollees on the roster, Anzalone opened spring drills as the No. 2 middle linebacker behind true sophomore Antonio Morrison.
Anzalone and two other true freshman linebackers who are enrolled early are expected to provide much-needed depth at positions of need in the fall. But two — Anzalone and Matt Rolin, who is recovering from ACL surgery — are out for the spring.
Muschamp said just having Anzalone and Rolin on campus early will help get them ready for the fall even though they cannot practice at this time.
“They're in the meetings, they're seeing the tempo, they're hearing the terminology, they're watching the film, they're getting coached,” Muschamp said. “Mental repetition is something I talk about all the time. You can get mental reps when you're standing on the side.
“More than anything, they see the tempo. You can talk to them about it before they get here, but until they get here and realize how quickly they've got to think and react and gauge, it's very difficult unless they've truly been through it.”
Two other defensive players also are out nursing injuries. End Jonathan Bullard and safety/cornerback Cody Riggs have injured hamstrings, but both are expected back next week, Muschamp said.
Other than the injuries, Muschamp said it's been mostly positive, with the Gators getting in some solid work through the four days of practice.
One of the biggest positives appears to be the work starting cornerback Louchiez Purifoy is turning in at wide receiver. Purifoy will move back to cornerback after the seventh practice.
“I think (it's going) very well,” Muschamp said. “Again, we're trying to introduce him to concepts, whether it's playing outside or in the slot.”
Purifoy saw a handful of plays on offense last season and caught only one pass. UF is hoping to expand his role next season, although he will remain at cornerback and continue to play on almost all the special teams.
“We want to expand what he can do at receiver,” Muschamp said. “All he's worked on is special teams and receiver. After the seventh practice, he's going to come back to defense and we will decide then how much we will expand his role offensively throughout the rest of the spring.
“He's going to have a role on our offense in the fall. That's why I wanted to do this right now.”
Muschamp was asked if there was any scenario where Purifoy could become a full-time offensive player in the fall.
“No,” he said.
The Gators are looking to get more production out of their wide receivers, and Purifoy is an option. There are others emerging, Muschamp said Tuesday.
“Andre (Debose) has done some nice things,” Muschamp said. “His biggest battle is consistency, doing it all the time. Quinton (Dunbar) improved throughout the year tremendously. He's done some nice things for us.
“Latroy (Pittman) has shown up and done some nice things for us. Raphael (Andrades) needs to come on. He has been with baseball a lot. He needs to pick up his mental intensity and continue to perform and produce better.
“And then Solomon Patton has been in non-contact and has done some nice things.”
Muschamp said the receivers seem to be responding positively to new wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, the former head coach at Kentucky.
“Really well,” Muschamp said. “Joker is a very experienced coach. He has played the position. He has coached the position for a long time. He's been a coordinator. He sees the big picture.
“I think they're certainly soaking in his knowledge right now.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Muschamp said he's been encouraged by the play of junior college transfer Darious Cummings at tackle and Morrison at middle linebacker. He is making the transition from outside linebacker.
“Very pleased (with Cummings). He can anchor,” Muschamp said. “He's got good short-area quickness. He can get off blocks. He can disengage. He's got good strength. Just really pleased.
“Very pleased (with Morrison). Antonio is a very passionate guy, plays the game hard. Plays with great physicality. Continues to improve as a communicator within the front seven.
“He's a very instinctive, tough player. He's improved his short-area quickness. He's much stronger than he was a year ago. He truly benefited from being here (as an early enrollee a year ago) and took advantage of it.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.