Notebook: Easley likely lining up at tackle
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:11 p.m.
A year after Sharrif Floyd made a successful switch from defensive end back to defensive tackle, it appears Dominique Easley is on the same path this spring.
“We have a little luxury because Dominique can play inside and outside,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “Right now, if we had to start the season, Dominique would be inside (at tackle). That's what we would do. I told the defense that yesterday.
“If we had to start the season, to get our best players on the field, Dominique's going to play inside. I'm meeting with our guys next week in exit interviews about cross training at different positions to get our best 11 on the field.”
Watkins settles in at safety
Jaylen Watkins, a starting cornerback last season, apparently has really caught on at his new position this spring.
“Jaylen Watkins is probably going to start fall as a safety,” Muschamp said. “He and Loucheiz (Purifoy) and Marcus (Roberson) have played very well at the corner position throughout spring, but he's a guy that we need to get on the field. He's a good football player and he's played well for us.”
Muschamp also praised the play of redshirt Marcus Maye at safety.
“He's done some really nice things,” he said. “He's got great range, continues to learn. The game's got to continue to slow down for him a little bit, but he's a guy that I've been pleased with.”
Help at fullback
Heading into the spring, the Gators appeared to have zero depth behind Hunter Joyer. But that situation has changed with the emergence of two defensive players who were moved to the position before the start of drills — Rhaheim Ledbetter and Gideon Ajagbe.
“I'm really pleased with the fullbacks,” Muschamp said. “Rhaheim Ledbetter played extremely well Saturday. Gideon has been really productive.
“We were kind of looking into being a 21 team with a fullback with Hunter, but one hit and you're out of it. All of a sudden we feel very comfortable about that package.
“At fullback, there's no question that was huge for us.”
Sophomore offensive guard Trip Thurman underwent shoulder surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum, but should be back for the start of training camp in August.
“(The doctors) felt like it went very well,” Muschamp said. “That's a four-month, four-and-a-half month type of surgery. He should be cleared for August practice if things go well and he rehabs the correct way, which he will.
“He works hard. He's done a good job for us this spring. I'm real pleased with his progress.”
Muschamp said sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard also will miss the rest of spring practice with an injured hamstring.
“It's been a little more severe (than first thought),” Muschamp said. “He had some scar tissue going back to high school on top of his hamstring, and we're really working through that process right now.”
Muschamp said safety Cody Riggs (hamstring) and cornerback Jeremy Brown (groin) are day-to-day this week.
Meanwhile, true freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson returned to practice Monday after missing last week with a high ankle sprain.
“He was limping, but he did practice,” Muschamp said. “We still have to have Joker (Phillips) kind of get him in and out to show him some different things as far as what we're doing.
“But he did practice and he should be getting better as the week rolls on. I don't think he'll be full speed Saturday, but he's a tough kid and he will practice.”
Phillips emerging at kicker?
Muschamp said former Buchholz place-kicker Brad Phillips had a good practice Monday and he's feeling better about the situation at kicker, where Phillips is battling redshirt freshman Austin Hardin for the starting role.
“We had a couple of game-ending situations at practice and (Phillips) hit both field goals when he was called to,” Muschamp said. “He's really kicking well. Austin has done some nice things. Frank Velez has come along as a third kicker we've kind of thrown into the competition.
“Certainly, no one has taken the job yet, but I've been very pleased with our progress there.”
This and that
Muschamp said senior Darrin Kitchens has been moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker. “He's been a guy that's played very well for us at Mike and Will. I've been very pleased with his progress,” Muschamp said. ... Muschamp said true freshman linebacker Daniel McMillian continues to impress with his ability and work ethic. “Athletically, he is the right guy to be coaching. He's got instincts, he's got toughness. Football is very important to him. He was up here Sunday after the third practice for two hours watching himself. It's important to him. Some young players have a hard time with that because they've always been better and didn't have to put in the extra time. Daniel, he's working, he's the absolute right guy to be coaching,” Muschamp said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.