About a dozen members of the media had a chance to sit down with John Brantley for about 20 minutes last Friday to talk about the start of spring football on March 17. Here is some interesting stuff from Brantley that I didn’t have a chance to write about last week:
* Brantley said he’s really developed a strong connection with redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and that Thompson is having a great offseason and shining in passing drills. “He’s so fast and so explosive. And his hands have gotten a lot better. We’re going to have a lot of playmakers at wide receiver,” Brantley said. When asked which young wide receiver have caught his eye, Brantley didn’t hesitate. “I’m liking Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines. They’re looking very well,” he said.
* Brantley said new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni is already having a positive influence on the receivers. “He’s a great coach. He came in toward the end of practice for the Sugar Bowl and he was teaching those guys a lot. I know all the receivers respect him and listen to every word he says,” Brantley said.
* Brantley said he’s been impressed with true freshman quarterback Trey Burton, an early enrollee and Brantley’s workout partner. “He’s working hard. We work out together every day. He’s doing great. He’s working his butt off. I’m very impressed with him,” he said.
* Brantley has new roommates this semester (and for the fall) — center Sam Robey and fullback T.J. Pridemore. His roommates last season were Paul Wilson and Rick Burgess.
* Brantley said he was really pumped when Michael Pouncey told him in January that he was returning for his senior season. With Pouncey moving to center, the Gators will have a veteran starting five up front that includes Pouncey, Carl Johnson, Xavier Nixon, Marcus Gilbert and James Wilson. “It’s a great thing that (Pouncey) came back. We’re going to have such a veteran line coming back. I feel very comfortable sitting behind those five,” he said.
* Brantley said the criticism Urban Meyer and the UF coaches have been receiving over Tim Tebow’s awkward throwing motion is unwarranted. Brantley said former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and current quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler worked extensively with Tebow and Brantley on their mechanics. “Every day during individual periods, there was a lot of work on mechanics. Just like other coaches, they want to see us perfect our mechanics. It’s tough because coaches really can’t work with us during the offseason . It’s a critical time. Once in season, you don’t really want to change much and mess with them. That’s the really tough thing about the NCAA. You can’t work with the players in the offseason.”
* Brantley said he’s seen Tebow’s new throwing motion on tape and he likes what he sees. “He looks good. He has a much quicker release. I think either way, he’s going to be fine and have a great (NFL) career,” Brantley said.