Sights and sounds from UF’s first preseason football practice

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs with the ball as head coach Dan Mullen watches Friday, Day 1 of preseason practice at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Football is finally back in Gainesville as the Gators opened preseason camp on a muggy Friday morning. The first six periods were opened to the media, giving the congregated reporters a glimpse into the commencement of Florida’s month-long preparation for the Aug. 24 opener against Miami in Orlando. Here are some observations from the beginning of Friday’s session.

  • Gators coach Dan Mullen said Thursday he didn’t expect any no-shows, but when camp opened at 8:20 a.m., sophomore defensive back John Huggins was nowhere to be seen. A University Athletic Association spokesperson confirmed Huggins will miss practice through the weekend while dealing with a “family issue”. Although no definitive timetable for Huggins’ return has been given, he’s expected to return to preseason camp after the weekend. 
  • Aside from Huggins’ absence, all of Florida’s current roster was accounted for — including offensive lineman Noah Banks. Mullen spoke of Banks’ imminent return in Thursday’s media session, and the former junior college transfer was working with Florida’s second-team offensive line throughout the first six periods of practice. 
  • Also making an impression among the offensive line was freshman Ethan White, and it was once again for his noticeably slimmer physique. The Clearwater native arrived on campus weighing just north of 400 pounds, but White seemed to have trimmed much of that weight off after seven months in Nick Savage’s strength and conditioning program.
  • White wasn’t the only Gator whose appearance seemed to benefit from Savage’s regimen. Dameon Pierce may have the strongest calf muscles on the team, while fellow running back Isaac Ricks clearly doesn’t miss an opportunity to work out his trapezius muscles. Oh, and freshman linebacker Jesiah Pierre seemed much larger than the 217 pounds he’s listed at in Florida’s media guide. 
  • Jeremiah Moon was slated for a large role in Spring camp before fracturing his foot in January. Now, Moon is fully healthy and working to carve out playing time at rush end/outside linebacker for the Gators. Even with the addition of transfer Jon Greenard, Moon should have plenty of opportunities as long as he stays healthy.
  • Senior running back Lamical Perine remains one of the most underrated pass-catching running backs in college football. And, like most Gators, he seems more polished from a physical standpoint. 
  • Many expected junior defensive lineman Tedarrell “TJ” Slaton to become a mainstay in the starting rotation last season, but the Fort Lauderdale native quickly fell down the pecking order after opening the season as the starter. And if Friday’s practice was any indication, things haven’t gotten much better for Slaton. He was seen working with the third-string defense in Friday’s session — although it’s worth noting Mullen said the Gators will look to shuffle the rotations often when it comes to the line of scrimmage. 
  • And last but certainly not least, junior defensive back Marco Wilson was a full participant in the early non-contact portions of practice. Sans a knee brace, Wilson helped newcomers Kaiir Elam and Chester Kimbrough through drills led by defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like the players were properly Savaged and are now ready to be Hevesey’ed, Grantham’ed, Gray’ed, Gonzalez’ed, Knox’ed, Johnson’ed apologies if I missed a coach and ultimately Mullen’ed to be ready for season. Stay healthy and show us year two trending upward!!!🐊🏈

  2. It still blows my mind that the coaches continue to allow Slaton to waste his talent at DT. The guy was the #4 offensive guard in the nation coming out of high school. Clearly he’s much more suited for the offensive side of the ball. It makes no sense why they keep him on defense.

    • On the flip side I give him total credit for sticking with it and listening to the coaches. We’ve seen a few guys bail because they weren’t going to be starters, but here is a guy who just keeps fighting and competing, accepting the role the coaches have put him in.

      I hear what you are saying about the move, but I do give Slaton total credit and I am now his biggest fan. However this plays out, his willingness to stick it out will pay dividends for him the rest of his life.

      • Now Joe, he was rated an OG by the same recruiting services that many on here claim dont know anywhere close to our coaching staff. Maybe the staff has already tried him as an OG behind closed doors? Or maybe he doesn’t want to play offense? In Mullen we trust

        • If he just flat out doesn’t want to play offense, then that’s a different story. You’d think a highly competitive person would want to get on that field however he can. I think it’s pretty obvious he’s not making much progress where he’s at. I guess we’ll see if he’s able to work his way up in the next couple of weeks. He definitely looks to be in much better shape.

      • I understand what you’re saying, but it’s not a role his coaches put him in, it’s a role he put himself in. During his recruiting, he made it known that he wanted to play defense and only focused on schools that would give him the opportunity. It was his choice to make the switch and Mac catered to it. He’s clearly struggled ever since. I wouldn’t really consider it bailing either. He wouldn’t be leaving the program, he would be putting himself in a better position to help the team. He’s certainly not doing that by being 3rd string and barely seeing the field. The o-line is the biggest question mark heading into the season. You’d have to believe based on how great he was in high school, that he’d give that unit more of a boost than staying at d-line and struggling. I watched him play a few games in HS and he dominated on the o-line. It was shocking to me that he wanted to switch. I truly believe he’d probably be a first rd draft pick after this season if he stayed at that position.