Put up time for Hunter, Okine

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Defensive
linemen Earl Okine and Omar Hunter arrived on campus a year ago with
big-time credentials and expectations that were off the charts.

Okine,
an early enrollee, was expected to push for immediate playing time at
end. Hunter, whom Urban Meyer called the Tim Tebow of the 2008
recruiting class, arrived in May with the idea that the early start
would give him the opportunity to earn a starting role at defensive
tackle, where the Gators were so thin and unproven.

Neither did a thing, and both were redshirted.

Now,
it’s time for these two to start turning all their potential into
production. Both are healthy now, both are bigger and stronger than a
year ago, so there are no excuses. If they don’t start getting it done
this spring, well, it might never happen.

“Hunter is getting a
little better,” defensive line coach Dan McCarney said after Saturday’s
scrimmage. “He and Earl. … it’s time now. They didn’t play last year.
They stood back and watched and saw one of the great defenses in
college football play the game. Now, start doing it like those guys did
it with your name and your jersey.”

Because of the reputation
he came in with, Hunter is a guy who is asked about often by UF fans.
Where is he? What’s he done? Is he healthy?

Can he play?

We’re about to find out.

“It’s time. It’s time,” McCarney said. “We’ve had a lot of time to talk. He’s been here since may, almost a year. It’s time.

“You’ve
got talent, you’re strong, you’re tough, you’ve got pride. But you
stood around and watched last year. It’s time to go play now.”

Hunter and Okine both made plays in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Both made several tackles, and Okine recovered a fumble and Hunter batted down a John Brantley pass during the goal-line phase.

It’s a start. But both still have a long way to go.

One
note about Okine. He’s up to 280 pounds and is rapidly growing out of
defensive end. McCarney said Okine is going to be a full-time defensive
tackle this season.

“He’s three weeks away from being 290,”
McCarney said. “He’s just grown before our eyes. His future is inside
for us all the way.”