Sneak peek at the Gators
Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12:12 a.m.
More than a thousand fans turned out Thursday night to see the Florida football team's first open practice of preseason camp.
The Gators didn't show much due to today's scheduled scrimmage, but there was still enough action to excite the crowd at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
The star of the night was wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. And it wasn't even up for debate.
The true freshman had a handful of impressive catches and ran mostly with the first-team offense, looking primed for a starting job this fall.
He scored a touchdown on a 7-yard out route toward the beginning of practice and later made a pair of long receptions down the field, including a thrilling one-handed catch over Marcus Roberson, who had a rough night in the secondary.
Robinson was the most explosive player on offense, and it appears UF finally has a vertical threat who can go up and win a jump-ball battle. Although his skill-set is different than former Gator and first-team All-American Percy Harvin, Robinson could have just as big of an impact in his first year.
Here are some other observations from Thursday:
Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was more comfortable in a practice setting than he's ever looked. He threw crisp and precise passes and showed command of the offense. His favorite targets outside of Robinson were tight end Clay Burton and receiver Quinton Dunbar, who made a nice over-the-head grab while falling backward.
* Trey Burton and Solomon Patton were two other players who stood out in practice. Both look like they will be much more involved in the passing game this season, which is something the UF coaches have hinted at this month.
* The running backs didn't get a lot work Thursday. Valdez Showers, who moved from safety to running back/receiver this week, repped with the first-team offense. He was wearing an orange non-contact jersey.
* The starting offensive line (left to right) was D.J. Humphries, Max Garcia, Jonotthan Harrison, Tyler Moore and Chaz Green. Once guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral muscle) returns to practice, Moore will likely move back to right tackle and start over Green, who struggled against defensive end Dante Fowler.
* Humphries, however, held his own when matched up against Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell. He was also seen helping out freshman Trevon Young, who has switched from tight end to offensive tackle and now wears No. 78 (was No. 80).
* Suspended linebacker Antonio Morrison fully participated in practice. Neiron Ball, who recently moved to inside linebacker, showed great closing speed on running plays. Darrin Kitchens was in a non-contact jersey.
* Safety Keanu Neal made a bone-jarring hit on fellow freshman Adam Lane, who Fowler called the hardest running back to tackle on the team.
* Cornerback Jaylen Watkins (ankle) and defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee) are still out. Offensive lineman Octavius Jackson and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III also did not practice with undisclosed injuries.