Redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley can’t catch a break this spring. Just when it appeared his injured left shoulder was fine and he was making a strong late run at the No. 2 quarterback role, the former Ocala Trinity Catholic star injured his passing hand in practice Wednesday and might not be able to play in the Orange and Blue Game.
Brantley’s hand was bandaged Friday and he did not take snaps or throw any passes in practice. He injured his right hand when he slammed it into a defensive player’s helmet while attempting a pass in Wednesday’s scrimmage.
X-rays were negative, but it looks like more valuable time lost for Brantley due to injury. He was limited in the first three weeks of spring practice after dislocating his left shoulder during mat drills in late February.
Brantley finally was well enough to start practicing full speed a week ago and was making a strong push for the No. 2 role behind Tim Tebow when his latest injury occurred. In Wednesday’s practice, Brantley spent most of the day with the No. 2 offense ahead of sophomore Cameron Newton, who has struggled with consistency for most of the spring.
The spring game was going to be key for Brantley and Newton because Tebow wasn’t expected to play much and most of the snaps would have gone to them. Whoever performed the best probably would have had a slight edge heading into two-a-days in August.
Now, it appears Brantley will have to sit back and watch while Newton gets the bulk of the snaps in the spring game. Who knows, Newton might even end up playing for both teams, so he’ll have a chance to make a good impression with a solid performance.
In unrelated news from the practice field, All-America safety Will Hill attended Friday’s practice and will be on the sideline for the spring game. Hill is considered the No. 1 prospect in UF’s highly ranked 2008 recruiting class. Hill spent most of the practice watching the safeties work with Chuck Heater.
My first impression of Hill is that he is bigger and taller than I thought he would be. He’s a good-looking athlete, and I know the coaches can’t wait to start working with him this summer. He’s expected to see some playing time in the fall.