Notebook: Gators are even competitive away from field in workouts

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Florida strength coach Nick Savage leads warm-up drills during practice last year the Indoor Practice Facility on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

 They may be scattered across the state and other parts of the country, but the Florida football players are managing to stay connected and competitive among themselves, strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage said.

 With the coaches not allowed to virtually coach the players through the workouts provided by Savage and his staff, the players are coaching each other up to some extent via phone and social media.

  “They have been together in a positive, engaging way,” Savage said. “They basically pick on and egg each other on, like,  ‘I did this, I did this many reps,’ and so on and so forth.

 “Our guys do a great job of not only enjoying hard work and putting in the time and commitment in order to be successful, but they also are very competitive. If some guy sends out a video and essentially he doesn’t do so called good reps, at least with what he has been taught, and then some players correct him. It has been engaging and interactive. And for the situation we’re in, the guys are making the best with what we got.”

 This is what good teams do when they are on their own, leadership emerges to hold everyone together and accountable,” Savage said.

 “I still communicate a lot with the leadership committee and I still put a lot on them,” Savage said. “As a coach you hear all the time — leadership. At this point it really comes down to player to player and their leadership. And at this point you really want it to be that way.

 “The  teams that learn to do that the most, at least at the level needed, they are usually the most successful because they learn how to drive and hold each other accountable.”

 Savage said some new leaders have emerged while the Gators are working out remotely.

 “There’s been a lot of engagement and positive talk through the offensive line, as a group the whole quarterback group, a lot of the receivers do a great job,” he said. “ Defensively, I think guys are doing a really good job, linebackers, secondary guys. I can’t really say specifically true individuals without knowing the behind-the-scenes stuff. But there’s been multiple guys to kind of take the bull by the horns and kind of engage their other teammates.”

Freshmen impression

 The true freshmen early enrollees were only on campus for about nine weeks before the shutdown last month, but it was long enough for them to make a favorable impression on Savage and his staff.

 “We’ve got a really good (freshman) class,” he said. “Our early enrollee guys have done a phenomenal job since the day they stepped on campus. And I don’t even mean that just in the weight room, but I think they’ve done it big-picture wise, an unbelievable job. 

 “I definitely was excited to see them get on the football field (this spring), and we will get to see that at some point. It’s just postponed. But when that time may come I am excited for that.”

 UF has 10 early enrollees — cornerback Jahari Rogers, offensive lineman Issiah Walker, defensie back Ethan Pouncey, defensive end Antwaun Powell, quarterback Anthony Richardson, offensive lineman Joshua Braun, safety Rashad Torrence II, defensive tackle Lamar Goods, offensive lineman Richard Leonard and punter Jeremy Crawshaw.

 They were hoping to get an early jump on the other members of the 2020 recruiting class this spring and make a push in practice for possible early playing time in the fall. Even though that opportunity is no longer there, the 10 still have benefitted from getting here early, Savage said.

 The early enrollees went through the winter offseason strength and conditioning program, so they know the demands and what’s expected in terms of getting themselves ready to play. They now are doing the workouts remotely along with the other players.

 Savage said the other members of the freshmen class also are going through similar workouts sent by him and his staff. Those 14 freshmen are expected on campus in July, but then again, there is no timetable for a return to campus for anyone at this point. 

 “The guys that have been on campus, it’s easier for them,” he said. “They are all under the protocol all our other players are in. The guys that aren’t on campus, obviously, we want to try to treat and handle the same way because they’re in the same boat as every other student-athlete.

 “Gyms are closed, they don’t have this, they don’t have that. I still believe you should be able to provide them something, so I’ve asked the questions that need to be answered and that’ll be down the road, future stuff. But basically what else can we do to exhaust our resources to make sure our Gators now and future Gators are ready to go when they get back on campus are in the best position to succeed.”