Early spring observations

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Some early observations from spring football practice:

  • Carl Moore, the highly touted junior college wide receiver, does not appear as fast and as strong as I thought he was going to be, but he’s obviously a very good athlete and catches any and every ball thrown his way. He also seems to already have a good grasp of the offense. Quarterback Tim Tebow said Moore has been studying the playbook hard since he arrived in January and is way ahead of where most newcomers would be in the offense at this time. Moore said he’s looking forward to putting on the pads to show what he can really do. Moore seems like a very intelligent kid and a guy who will have a chance to make some plays in the offense. When asked about the comparisons that have been made between him and Terrell Owens, Moore laughed and said, “I know I have a better attitude than Terrell Owens.” Moore said he’s comfortable dealing with the high expectations because he has high expectations for himself. Tebow and wide receiver Percy Harvin both said Moore will be a major factor in the offense this season.
  • At this early stage, Tebow appears a little off throwing the ball. He was wild high in his first practice and threw some real wounded ducks in his attempts to go down field. Like everyone else, he needs to shake off some rust here in the next few days.
  • The wide receiver who has really caught my attention is redshirt freshman Deonte Thompson. He has explosive speed, excellent hands and lots of moves in the open field. He and Cameron Newton hooked up for one of the highlight moments of the first practice, a deep touchdown pass down the left sideline. The coaches came close to playing Thompson last season and it’s obvious he’s got some big-time talent. While Moore is getting a lot of attention this spring, I think Thompson is going to be the guy who steps into Andre Caldwell’s old role in the offense. He appears to have more playmaking skills than Moore.
  • Unhappy offensive lineman James Wilson is doing some things at practice, but his heart just doesn’t appear to be into it. He’s going to stick around through the spring, but I have a strong feeling he’ll be bolting for Wake Forest this summer. Like Urban Meyer said, at least he’s making an attempt this spring.
  • It’s really too early to tell how the competition is developing at the tailback position. I know Chris Rainey is getting yelled at some by new running backs coach Kenny Carter, but he’s also getting some reps and the ball in his hands. He broke off a long TD run in the first practice after escaping at the line of scrimmage with a quick spin move. Emmanuel Moody looks the part and certainly moves well. We’ll know more about him and the rest of the tailbacks when the pads come on in the next few days.
  • The coaches had to prod middle linebacker Brandon Spikes into being a leader last season as a sophomore. Now, he seems comfortable in the role and is clearly one of the top leaders of the team along with Tebow. He appears to be in the best shape of his career and is moving extremely well.
  • Meyer really likes true freshmen cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown. They’re nowhere near being ready to play, but neither has missed a class this spring and both performed well in the offseason conditioning program. They definitely are going to help the depth situation at cornerback, and both could see the field in the fall.
  • At the end of last season, Meyer talked about making sophomore Justin Trattou a full-time defensive tackle this spring, but he’s been lining up at defensive end most of the time, his more natural position. This is probably a sign that the coaches feel good about their tackles ” John Brown, Troy Epps, Torrey Davis and Terron Sanders. Epps, by the way, looks like he’s the most physically developed of the tackles.
  • Sophomore Maurkice Pouncey is having some problems with the shotgun snaps. That’s probably to be expected, because he’s new at it after moving from a starting guard position. The No. 2 center appears to be Corey Hobbs, another converted guard.
  • Jamar Hornsby is running with the No. 2 defense at free safety, and he appears to be moving much better than he has since he’s been here. Hornsby had knee surgery after his senior season in high school and there had been a lingering effect. He seems to be running around with a lot of confidence now, and looks like maybe he’s ready to compete for possible playing time behind Major Wright.
  • Former Gainesville High star Earl Okine is getting plenty of reps at defensive end. The true freshman has a long way to go, but he physically looks like Derrick Harvey wearing Harvey’s old No. 91. Meyer has said Okine has the chance to be a physical freak as he develops more strength over time. He’s definitely a good-looking prospect, and with the lack of depth at end, it’s possible he could play this season.