Notebook: Savage workouts will have team ready, Gators say

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Florida strength coach Nick Savage talks with Trevon Grimes (8) and Kadarius Toney (4) during a spring practice. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

HOOVER, Ala. — The second Summer of Savage apparently has been even tougher than the first.

That’s the word from the Florida players at SEC Media Days commenting on Nick Savage and his notoriously demanding offseason strength and conditioning program.

“Coach Savage has ramped up the workouts, preparing us mentally and physically,” senior defensive end Jabari Zuniga said. “He is one of the best strength coaches in the country. He brings that passion and enthusiasm to every workout, no matter what time it is. He is going to come in ready to work and make sure you are ready to work.

“We feel like this season is going to be one to remember.”

Just like last summer, the players have bought into Savage and his methods, quarterback Feleipe Franks said. The result has been a tougher — and maybe even more promising — offseason for the Gators.

“We worked extremely hard this offseason,” Franks said. “We are ready for this upcoming season. There is a lot of momentum built up, and I think we have all prepared the right way. We have done everything the right way this summer, going into fall camp, to prepare us for the season. So I think it is all just preparation-based, and our team has done a great job.”

Senior running back Lamical Perine said the players have embraced the demanding offseason conditioning program because they saw the results last season, especially late in some games.

“I just feel like his workouts help us out with a lot of things that we do,” Perine said. “For instance, when we are down in games, we never get sad-faced or anything like that, because we have been working so hard through the off-season and the summer. Just working hard so we are prepared for all moments.”

Once spring practice ends, coach Dan Mullen and his staff turn the team over to Savage and his staff. Mullen will have a chance to see the results of the offseason program when preseason practice begins July 26.

“It’s hard for me to judge all that until we start practicing,” Mullen said. “I talked to our guys (Monday). They said, ‘Hey we’re getting close because of the early game. We’re 11 days from reporting to training camp.’ So they got to now start transitioning back into football. You go through offseason and you transition from football to spring ball, then you get back into offseason training, getting bigger, faster, stronger. And now you’ve got to get back into getting ready for football and you start transitioning to that.”

Riding the Van

Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson had a productive first season at wide receiver for the Gators last year, leading the team in receptions with 35 for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Based on the work he’s been putting in this summer, he might be looking to have a major breakout season this fall.

“He is a worker,” Mullen said. “He’s one of those guys that is constantly working every day on being a better route runner, working on his hands, studying the game, understanding the game.

“Coming back this year, he’s a guy that has great maturity to understand and say, ‘OK, here’s the parts of my game that I need to work on to make it to the next level.’

“Our program is about hard work. And that’s something he believes in, so I think it’s a great fit for him to be in a program that really has the same values that he has.”

Studying the portal

With all the roster subtractions the Gators have gone through the past two months, Mullen and his staff are still looking for the possibility of adding a graduate transfer or two between now and the start of the season.

“I think we have a couple of initial (counter) spots still open,” Mullen said. “What we’re trying to do now is balance out the numbers over several years. How many initials do we want to try to make sure we save for people leaving and the number of transfers as you continue to move (forward)?”

The NCAA transfer portal still has many players who have not landed at a new school yet.

“It’s kind of the new era of college football,” Mullen said. “We’ll see if it starts to slow down. There’s so many things that guys don’t know. I think a lot of the players that are in it think it’s one thing and then they realize it’s something different.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. i ve been reading nonsense opinions here for a few weeks, about how good georgia and south carolina are, and how a player who missed the georgia game and let down the program is one of the all time greats, all enough to make your head explode. when something of substance like incoming transfer portal players shows up, we hear it from the coaches, not the newspaper. oh well, id like to know more, but i guess if i were a coach i wouldnt say anything either, hopefully we can get a little help for the offensive line and special teams

    • Mveal, this is about as much as we’re going to get, and yes, while it’s certainly better than its competitors and way better than nothing — well, absent being there ourselves we just won’t be privy to certain things. Remember ol’ Cody Alan? A former player and a great contributor last year — he hasn’t posted now in quite some time, tho. He had real insider knowledge and altho he couldn’t reveal certain things, he sure could shine a light on insights. I sure wish he’d come back!

      • id love to see cody back and more of some of the rest of the posters. for me, i appreciate the newspapers facts, but when it comes to everything else, the posters are way better than the newspaper itself, you learn more! i may annoy a few posters with some unconventional views, but aint no grudges on my end, except for georgia and some other schools jeremy foley stuck us with.

        • No complaints here, bud…..out of those unconventional views of yours have come some real pearls of wisdom. I also say propelling some of us hard heads to reconsider our own viewpoints. So if anything, keep it up — I for one rarely disagree with you. Besides, I still say you had the coolest Mom in all of Gatorland — that orange & blue bedroom as a kid is a classic!

  2. Roster management is a new and difficult thing. You can only hope a student will be quick and honest about leaving in football and especially basketball (with far few players). Mike White has done well with trasnfer players. CDM will figure it out. I have a feeling Coach Dan, not unlike Lieutenant Dan, will stay and make us into Bubba Gators. A huge success.

    Nick Saban is 67. Tons of $. Many trophies. Mullen could unseat him at UF if he wants to finish his career in good ‘ol Hogtown.

  3. “The second Summer of Savage apparently has been even tougher than the first.”
    “Coach Savage has ramped up the workouts”
    “We feel like this season is going to be one to remember.”
    I am so happy to hear this. Something solid rather than all the BS opinions. I know what this did for the team last year and to hear this really improves my outlook for how far and how good a season we will have. Im not too thrilled about portals and transfers since they will have missed this workout, I dont feel they will contribute much. Our stars will come from this Savage worked group! I think this had alot to do with how much better a runner Franks ended up being. I know it wasnt until the last 2 games of the season but I think he was concentrating on other aspects of the game and that when he had that down, then the strength he developed under Savage came through and enabled him to run with authority!

    • Daz – I watched the Peach Bowl game last night, and Franks running is one of the reasons that we won that game. That and the fact that there were 4 very selfish players on Michigan’s side that didn’t play because they didn’t want to risk injury heading into the NFL draft. The O-line during that game wasn’t the best, but they played tough for most of the game. The same thing needs to happen this year with the O to keep us ahead in games so we can rely on our D to stifle the opposing O’s. Also – if I remember correctly, didn’t someone on the staff last year state that the off season workouts would be tough, but would become tougher the following year? You know like establish the program first and then prove to the players that it works. This should be an interesting season that is about to commence. I think we may be better than expected. GO GATORS!!!

  4. Ykili Ross has been a safety at USC. He is in the transfer portal and can play immediately wherever he goes as a grad transfer. He was a HS WR and CB and was a high four star CB as a prospect. He was rated the number seven cornerback in the country during his senior season at Riverside Poly by 247 Sports.

  5. I am excited as I was when Timmie Tebow was playing QB. After almost five years of disappointment, the “Moose Dump” era, I’m ready to take it to the limit, one more time! At 70, I don’t have many seasons to go! We have the right Coach! The right Staff, the right players and this year, the right schedule! Go Gators! Damn the money, keep them all, no matter the cost! You only get the right people once in a lifetime and my Gators got them twice. Just an Old Gators thoughts on the matter.