Anyone who spent any time around the Florida football team in the fall could see and sense the friction between the senior leaders and some of the highly rated true freshmen.
The freshmen felt they should be playing more, and should not be treated like freshmen. The seniors did not like the attitude and sense of entitlement the freshmen brought with them when they arrived on campus.
As a result, a significant divide developed within the team in the preseason and early in the season. With that, team chemistry sort of blew up in the Gators’ faces in what would become a disappointing five-loss season.
Several months later, under a new coaching staff, some of those true freshmen who are now sophomores say the past has been forgotten, chemistry on the team is good again and the Gators are ready to move forward into a new season.
“That’s the past,” outside linebacker Ronald Powell said when asked about the tension last season between the freshmen and seniors. “We’re great now. We have great chemistry now, and it’s getting better.
“Playing the game of football, you just naturally do it. You’ve got to depend on the guys in front of you, the guys beside you and the guys behind you, too. It’s just coming together and being a team.”
One true freshman who really seemed to struggle with his attitude last fall was defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who came across as a “me kind of guy” to some of the older players. Easley was so troubled at one point that he seriously considered leaving the team.
Easley is now listed first on the depth chart at defensive tackle and, by all accounts, his attitude has significantly improved.
“He’s my roommate. My brother, actually,” true sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said. “I take care of him, he takes care of me. I look after him, he looks after me.
“I know he’s a lot more focused than last year, and I guess he’s seeing the big picture now.”
The big picture seems to be this: buy into the team thing because it’s the only way to succeed.
“We know we all have to work together to be where want to be, in Atlanta at the end of the season with a chance to win the national championship,” true sophomore outside linebacker Gerald Christian said.