The 2009 Urban Meyer Football Camp officially got underway Sunday, but Monday was the first full day of action for the Elite Lineman Camp and the first Individual Camp.
Monday’s afternoon and morning secessions didn’t have much elite talent, but there was some entertaining competition to watch. The biggest names on campus were current Florida commit Jonathan Dowling and Miami commit Louis Nix, who didn’t work out in the morning but did have his pads out for the afternoon.
Dowling was easily the star of the day. The Bradenton, Southeast safety was only in town for Monday’s workouts, but he certainly made the most of it. He worked out as a receiver and as a defender during one-on-one drills in the morning and looked most impressive as a receiver.
Dowling, who stands 6-foot-3, 178 pounds, arguably had the best hands of the any athlete on the field and showed that even as a safety, he can run just as crisp a route as most wide receivers. He worked exclusively at receiver in the afternoon drills, where he again outshined his competition.
If Dowling was the best one of the bunch, Bradenton, Manatee receiver Ace Sanders was a close second. Sanders, who boasts a handful of offers — including Iowa and Purdue — displayed not only great hands but blazing speed while running routes inside The Swamp during the one-on-one drills. He’s not the biggest prospect — he only stands 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 168 pounds — but that didn’t stop him from continuously beating defenders for the ball. As a junior, Sanders had 578 receiver yards and seven touchdowns off 29 catches. His speed and overall ability caught the attention of Meyer, who was overseeing the camp along with a few of his assistant coaches. He currently does not have an offer from Florida.
Another prospect who gained the attention of a few Florida coaches was Orange Park athlete Demetre Baker. Baker played the defender role in the one-on-one drills and was pitted against Florida tight end commit Michael McFarland. Baker and McFarland had a couple nice battles for the ball and when everything was said and done, neither truly got the best of the other. Baker’s name was called a few times by both Meyer and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. He too doesn’t have an offer from the Gators. Baker finished his junior year with 700 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns and 80 tackles, four sacks and four fumble recoveries on defensive.
McFarland struggled to catch the ball a few times during the day and doesn’t possess the ideal speed of a tight end in Florida’s offense, but used his 6-6, 230-pound frame to make to some of the tougher catches.
Not many quarterbacks showed up for the first camp, but a familiar face was working out. Columbus, Ga., Hardaway athlete Marcus Smith didn’t participate during the morning session, but threw in the afternoon. LaGrange, Ga., quarterback Jamius Gunsby was also on hand. Unlike Smith, Gunsby threw in the morning and showed a big arm during the one-on-one drills, but sometimes showed a little too much, leading his receivers a bit too much at times.
A couple of the bigger linemen besides Nix included Jacksonville, First Coast defensive tackle Tavaris Barnes, Paramus, N.J., Paramus Catholic offensive tackle Dan Foose and Jersey City, N.J., St. Peter’s Prep offensive tackle Jake Kaufman. Kaufman said he’s heading directly to Miami for an official visit after Monday’s session.
The 2011 Lake City, Columbia defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan also showed up and worked out. He gained praise from defensive line coach Dan McCarney a few times. It probably didn’t hurt that he was wearing a Florida hat all day as well.
Florida’s camp will continue through the rest of the week. Stay with the Gatorsports.com recruiting blog for more updates from camp.