After their final pre-bowl practice Friday, the Florida Gators seem to have everything in order as they head into their four-day Christmas break.
They’re healthy (with the exception of wide receiver Riley Cooper, who will miss the Capital Bowl Game with a broken finger), they’re all academically eligible (with a team GPA of 2.9 in the fall semester) and they’re coming off what Urban Meyer is calling one of their best weeks of practice this season.
Maybe the most positive news of all is that quarterback Tim Tebow is showing absolutely no signs of a Heisman hangover ” at least to this point. Meyer said Tebow had one of his best practices ever earlier this week and he appears as focused and driven as ever.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin, who could climb into next year’s Heisman race, said earlier this week that he went up to Tebow after a practice and gave him props for being the same guy, the same athlete, he was before all the Heisman hype started gathering around him. Harvin said Tebow has been working harder than ever on the practice field and doesn’t act like a guy who was just named the best player in college football.
Getting away from bowl game for a moment, here’s an early prediction: juniors Derrick Harvey and Cornelius Ingram will announce next week they are entering the NFL Draft.
It makes sense for both of them.
Even though Harvey got little or not help from an inside rush until late in the season, he had a very strong junior year and showed that he is just as good (maybe even better) defending the run as he is rushing the quarterback. And here’s another point: Harvey is more physically ready for the NFL than Jarvis Moss was a year ago, and Moss was taken in the first round. The feeling is Harvey will be a late first round or early second round pick. If that’s the case, it’s time for him to move on.
As for Ingram, he says he’ll enter the draft if he’s projected to go in the first three rounds. I think it’s a safe bet that’s going to happen and Ingram is going to join his roommate (Harvey) in the draft. I think the only question the scouts have about Ingram is what position he will play at the next level. He’s not big enough (and doesn’t block well enough) to be a traditional tight end, and he does not have the blazing speed the pros are looking for at wide receiver. But Ingram is a great athlete and a physical specimen, and a team will find a way to use his skills at the next level. He reminds me of former Denver star Shannon Sharpe, who had a similar build and skills.
Now, back to the bowl game. Here’s a young guy to keep an eye on in the spring: true freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who redshirted this season.
The coaches came very close to playing Thompson this season because he really started coming on at about the midway point. He’s very fast, very explosive and could be a big-time threat next season in this offense.
Harvin said earlier this week that Thompson is a player and is going to play a major role next season. With Thompson moving up, and UF gaining junior college All-American wide receiver Carl Moore this spring, the Gators are not going to miss Jarred Fayson, who has moved on to Illinois.
Fayson always looked the part of a playmaker and the coaches always talked him up, but I just never saw it on the field this past season. There’s no question he’s a great athlete, but he did not show the playmaking skills we kept hearing about the past two seasons.
Fayson also seemed to come across as a “me” guy, which doesn’t play well under Meyer.