Florida’s young and inexperienced offensive line is receiving a boost with the start of preseason camp today.
Senior tackle Noah Banks, whose career was threatened by a health issue that sidelined him at the end of last season, has been cleared to practice, UF coach Dan Mullen said Thursday.
“He’s on our training camp roster to report to camp when we report at five o’clock this afternoon,” Mullen said. “Everything that I’ve been told, we’re on track that he’s going to be ready to practice tomorrow.”
Banks, who played in 12 games last season with one start, started going through individual workouts with strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage in the spring, then rejoined the team for summer workouts.
“When he got back in shape with those individual workouts, started feeling really comfortable, he got back into the full team workouts and got ready to go,” Mullen said. “It is great for us to have him back. I know that one of the main reasons we recruited him is looking at our roster and knowing that you’re going to be in this situation.
“He was going to be a critical part of the team and getting him healthy, being able to make sure that he’s healthy to contribute is huge for us.”
No one probably is more pleased than offensive line coach John Hevesy, who must replace four starters, including second-round NFL draft pick Juwaan Taylor.
True freshman wide receivers Arjei Henderson and Dionte Marks have cleared up academic issues that prevented them from enrolling in the Summer B semester and will join the team for preseason camp.
“Marks has reported to training camp,” Mullen said. “Henderson’s finishing up, he’ll be here this weekend. He has things to finish up just because of where his school calendar was.”
A third true freshman, offensive lineman Wardrick Wilson, is still a no go for enrollment. The four-star prospect is from the Bahamas and has been denied a visa. UF is working to clear that up.
“That’s not a surprise for us of that situation,” Mullen said. “We had a lot of the information on it and we knew that that was going to be a process that we would not know a calendar or a timing on the process.
“To be honest, our expectations were it would happen at some time, but we weren’t thinking it would happen immediately.”
Bowl game for Reese?
Mullen confirmed redshirt freshman linebacker David Reese will miss the season after injuring his Achilles tendon during summer workouts. Mullen said there’s a chance Reese could return for a bowl game.
“One of the great deals about the new NCAA rule is he could possibly be on the edge for a bowl game,” Mullen said. “That could be pushing it, but what a great motivating factor that he could save a year because of injury and still have the opportunity and motivation to get himself healthy back to even play in a bowl game, which would be fantastic.”
Mullen said the Gators have no other serious injuries heading into camp.
“A couple other guys have some little small tweaks that might limit them, but not that we expect to have anything that would extend through the end of training camp,” Mullen said. “There will be guys with some limitations that were still coming back off of an injury. A guy sprained his ankle last week that might be slowed down, but nothing that would limit the extent of training camp. But everybody else we feel is ready to go.”