Notebook: Pease excited about Showers' switch to offense


Florida defensive back Valdez Showers (10) makes a catch during a drill at the first of two open spring football practices that the Gators are having, at the Sanders Practice Field on the UF campus, in Gainesville, Friday March 15, 2013.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.

The decision to move sophomore Valdez Showers from safety to running back/slot receiver has not generated much of a buzz around Gator Nation, but offensive coordinator Brent Pease seems pretty excited about it.

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Florida defensive back Valdez Showers (10) makes a catch during a drill at the first of two open spring football practices that the Gators are having, at the Sanders Practice Field on the UF campus, in Gainesville, Friday March 15, 2013.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer

Showers has a chance to make quite an impact on offense, Pease said Wednesday.

“He's a kid that played it in high school, he's natural, he's got great speed and brings in kind of that scatback-type of runner,” Pease said. “You have the pounding back who's running it downhill, then all of a sudden you spread them out and this guy's hitting creases and seams because he's got enough foot speed (to do it).”

Valdez is taking on the dual role (running back/receiver) that Omarius Hines filled last season.

“I think Valdez even adds to that,” Pease said. “He's a little different than Omarius because he's probably got a lot more quickness and he's a little bit more elusive.

“Because of his size, Omarius was so strong and could even be a little bit of a tight end-type body. Valdez isn't that type of guy, but he'll be filling some of those roles in that X-back (position). He's going to play a role in that position and all over the field.”

Playing time for Herndon

A strong preseason camp has earned former Ocala Forest running back Mark Herndon more than just a scholarship. It's also earned him playing time this season, Pease said.

“Mark Herndon has been a kid that stepped in to show that he's going to get some playing time,” Pease said. “He's smart, he runs the ball well. He fits into some of the things we do.

“Here's a kid who's shown great consistency and stepped up. At one scrimmage, he rushes for 90-some yards, hits a big play. It wasn't just a matter of that. You look at all his other plays and his protections, he's done a very good job of that. And not just for that scrimmage. It's been all of fall ball.”

Purifoy elevates his game

All the preseason hype about him apparently hasn't gone to cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy's head. He's gotten after it harder than ever on the practice field, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said.

“Loucheiz has had a good camp,” Durkin said. “It's been our challenge to him: 'OK, you've got a great skill set talent-wise and all the things you look for in a corner, now you have to refine the position with the techniques and fundamentals.'

“He's worked hard at it. Loucheiz is a great competitor. When we start practice, he's ready to go and compete, and he's improved himself in that way. It's an ongoing thing, but we feel good about where he's at now.”

Watkins can play, too

With Purifoy and Marcus Roberson — the starting cornerbacks — getting most of the attention, a former starter, Jaylen Watkins, has been somewhat overlooked in camp. But he shouldn't be, Durkin said.

“Jaylen is another guy who has had a great camp,” Durkin said. “I know the other two corners get talked about quite a bit and rightfully so, but Jaylen is a darn good corner himself. He's had a really good camp for us. He'll play a lot of football because he's a guy that can play many positions for us.”

Bostic hit a real hit

Durkin said the video of former middle linebacker Jon Bostic making his big hit in an NFL preseason game last weekend has been a popular one in the coaches' office this week. Bostic, a rookie with the Bears, was fined $21,000 for the hit on San Diego wide receiver Mike Willie.

“Coaches, players alike — everyone looked at it,” Durkin said. “Obviously, we're all really proud of him. You can't find a better guy than Jon Bostic to represent our program. All the guys feel strongly about that, so everyone was talking about it.

“That was such a bang-bang play. Obviously, I don't think he was intending to do anything with it. I just texted him a little bit ago — he got fined 21 grand or something like that — and I said, 'The good news is, you have the money now that you can go pay that. The bad news is you just got fined that.' We're really proud of Jon and how he's playing thus far in the preseason. We know he's going to have a great career.”

Can UF stop the run?

Even though the Gators no longer have Bostic and first-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd to anchor the middle of the defense, Durkin seems pretty confident UF will be strong against the run again this season.

“We've done some different things up front,” Durkin said. “Some guys are playing inside and outside, just like Dominique (Easley) did last year for us.

“Leon Orr has had a great camp for us. Damien Jacobs has done a great job. Jon Bullard is going to play some inside and some outside. He mainly played end for us last year. He'll play some of both. Darious Cummings. … We've got a good group of guys that we can roll in there and have some good depth inside. We can play physical and understand what we need.”

This and that

Jacobs, who has missed the last week of practice with a patella injury, is expected to return soon, Durkin said. “He's getting back in there now. We expect him to be back (soon). Up until the point he got injured, he was having a great camp and along with that a great spring. He's been in our program now for over a year, so he's a guy we know what he can do when he plays. He's a good player,” Durkin said. … Durkin said true freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder) also is expected back in the next few days.

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