Urban Meyer established some new traditions at Florida. He also eliminated an old one — those annual spring awards that Steve Spurrier and his staff used to hand out at halftime of each Orange and Blue game.
Well, we’re reviving the tradition here.
We present our version of the Gators’ spring football awards:
Best offensive player — Hard pick here, but we’re going with a true freshman — wide receiver Latroy Pittman, who brought some much-needed electricity to the downfield passing game.
Best defensive player — Easy pick here. Buck defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell. He was dominant in scrimmages and established himself as a dynamic outside pass rusher. Which brings us to our next award.
Biggest disappointment — Powell tearing his ACL in the first half of the spring game. Just when it appeared he was coming into his own, a major setback for him and the Gators. He could miss the whole month of September and some of October.
Most improved offensive player — Xavier Nixon. After being a revolving door at offensive tackle at times last season, he re-established himself as a very solid player. He’s bigger, stronger — and healthy (which he wasn’t for much of last season).
Most improved defensive player — We have a tie here between cornerback Jaylen Watkins and safety Jabari Gorman. Watkins looks like a different player. Gorman was all over the field making plays in the spring game.
Best disappearing act — Kyle Christy. The Gators punted zero times in the spring game. What’s up with that?
Best true freshman — A lot of guys in the mix here, but we’re going with linebacker Antonio Morrison, who has future star written all over him. Man, can that guy hit.
The Greg See courage award — Easy call. Senior offensive guard James Wilson, whose career has been crippled by chronic knee problems, was granted a sixth year of eligibility and made it through the spring healthy and as the starter at left guard.
Worst hair: Middle linebacker Michael Taylor. He just doesn’t look right as a blond.
Best position battle: No question about this one. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are so close in the QB competition that their battle will carry over to the fall. Will anyone be surprised if the Gators end up playing both next season? Didn’t think so.
Most improved position group — The offensive line went from being soft to a potential team strength. The big guys have really bought into this get-tougher mentality.
Best coaching job of the spring — We have a tie. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis. The new guys on the staff really got it done.