Given Florida’s situation on the offensive line, it seems inevitable that some true freshmen are going to be counted on to play this season, maybe even as soon as the opener against Miami in less than three weeks.
The mere thought of the possibility might seem scary to some, but not to senior center Nick Buchanan. The five true freshmen are winning him over in preseason camp.
“All the young guys, they are all leaps and bounds ahead of where typical freshmen coming in would be,” Buchanan said. “They go out there and compete every day in practice. They are watching film, learning playbooks and stuff like that. They are actually learning football, learning offense, learning the scheme. So, I have to give kudos to all of them.”
Two of the true freshmen — center Kingsley Eguakun and guard Ethan White — have been running with the No. 2 offense, which means they could get in the playing rotation for the opener. Both were early enrollees, along with Michael Tarquin and Will Harrod. Riley Simonds joined his freshman brothers this summer.
The overall offensive line group worked overtime this summer, bonding and trying to get better, Buchanan said.
“I feel like we had one of the hardest-working offseasons of any of the units,” he said. “Not to discredit their work, but we were always just staying 10-15 minutes after, getting extra work, extra sled pushes, anything. Working with Coach Tanner (Maher), the strength coach who is designated to the offensive line, always getting extra work and things like that.
“When it was time to meet and go over film, we were out there doing film. When we did drills, we were always doing drills, trying to go attack and the intensity was high. It was really good. Really good work over the summer.”
Now the linemen are in the hands of veteran offensive line coach John Hevesy.
“He never lets us forget what it takes to be successful,” Buchanan said. “And what that is is just paying attention to the details, building from the basics. You can’t jump to higher learning before you have the foundation. He lays the foundation, makes sure we know the basics of everything; the technique, the scheme, the fundamentals. Then he builds on top of that.
“But every day, we go through the basics, and then add to it. That’s how every day, he keeps us grounded. He puts the emphasis on the little things, that way you don’t forget them and that way you end up being successful.”
Defensive tackle Kyree Campbell said opposing offensive tackles are going to have their hands full trying to block Jonathan Greenard and Jeremiah Moon this season. The two are expected to rotate at the rush end position.
“I’m going to tell you right now we’ve got great bucks,” he said. “Between Greenard and Jeremiah Moon, they’re both unstoppable. When they go to speed rush or rushing at all, I just don’t see anybody blocking them.”
Greenard, the Louisville graduate transfer, also has brought great leadership to the defensive front, Campbell said.
“Jon knows what he’s doing,” Campbell said. “He’s been in college for a while. So just learning from him and how he depicts offensive linemen, like when we sit down and watch film. We’ll look at offensive tackles, how they align, how they sit on their heels, how their shoulder (are).
“Just him being able to tell us, ‘All right, this guy’s going this way because he’s leaning this way,’ or ‘This dude’s about to pull because he’s leaning back.’ Just him having that experience is helping us. It helps the defense a lot.”
Greenard on Grantham
One of the factors that led Greenard to transfer to UF was the fact he grew up a Gator fan in Hiram, Ga. Another was defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who coached Greenard during his freshman season at Louisville.
Greenard knew Grantham and knew his defense, so Florida made sense.
“It’s good,” said Greenard of his reunion with Grantham. “I still get treated like the young guy sometimes. He’s got to coach me up sometimes. But I understand it. That’s just his coaching style.
“The thing about it is, I want to be perfected, perfect in everything I do. He’s a perfectionist. Anytime I step foot on that field I always have to basically give my best, and he demands the best. He’s going to get it out of you.”
Moon ready to shine
Moon has completely recovered from a fractured foot he sustained in January and is looking to have a breakout season in his redshirt junior year. He’s been working with the No. 1 defense since the start of camp.
“I think I have a good chance to make an impact and really set myself up for the success I want,” said Moon, who has seven career starts. “Breaking my foot was definitely a setback, just trying to run again, being able to bend off the edge again. That was one of the biggest things. I think I’ve come a long way and I’m back to my ways.”
Edwards back with Mac
Cornerback Brian Edwards, who entered the NCAA transfer portal last month, has reconnected with his former coach, Jim McElwain.
Edwards recently announced on Twitter that he is transferring to Central Michigan, where McElwain is the new head coach after coaching the wide receivers at Michigan last season.
Edwards played in eight games as a reserve corner last season. Most of his playing time the past two years came on special teams.
This and that
UF is going to honor George Edmondson, the legendary Mr. Two Bits, at the Sept. 7 opener against UT-Martin. Edmondson, who died July 2, will be commemorated with a mural inside Gate 1. Members of the Edmondson family will be teaming up to be the Gators celebrity Mr. Two Bits on the field before the game. … For those fans going to the Aug. 24 opener against Miami in Orlando, Gator Boosters and the Alumni Association are putting together a Gator Nation headquarters at the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando on the day of the game. The event will feature a pregame tailgate, games, music and a pep rally. It starts at 10 a.m., with the pep rally scheduled for 1:30 p.m. A limited number of “Beat Miami” T-shirts will be given away.