Gators notebook: Lot’s of cross-training on ‘D’
One of Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s goals every season is to play 30-plus players on defense in games to keep everyone fresh. But, with no spring and less time to develop players, is that going to be difficult to do this season?
"Not really,” he said. “You've got to go the other way (and get a lot of players ready) based upon protocols. This is an unknown thing about who might be available each week. I think you're going to take the next step as far as cross-training guys so they can play multiple positions. That gives you flexibility week to week so that you can put your best 11 guys out there.
“That's really the approach that we've taken, trying to cross-train a lot of guys, getting guys into the rotation. We haven't had a lot of football, so early in this season I think the rotations are going to be critical.
“And at the same time, you've got to be ready for anything. I've made sure that guys learn a lot of different positions to allow us to play the best 11 relative to the situation that we have.”
Four-star defensive back Kamar Wilcoxson has gone from being a commitment in the 2021 recruiting class to a signee for the 2020 class after graduating from high school a year early.
That, of course, makes him the youngest player on the practice field in preseason camp.
One older player, redshirt cornerback Marco Wilson, is sort of looking after the kid.
“He just got here, but I’ve talked to him and given him some tips,” Wilson said. “He’s a very young guy. He’s 17 years old, I believe. He’s very young, so he’s getting adjusted to the college system, and everything like that might be tough for him. But he’s getting a huge head start over everybody, so I think he’ll be just fine if he’s here for some more time. He’ll be ready.”
After battling with consistency last season — some great moments, some not so great moments — the UF safeties are starting to show it on the practice field in preseason camp.
“The biggest thing is when there is continuity both in coaching and in players, it leads to consistency in play,” Grantham said. “I’ve been really pleased with (Donovan) Stiner and the way he’s kind of moved forward. Obviously, Shawn (Davis) is a guy who can flash, too. Those guys have done a really good job.
“We’ve brought some young guys in. The good thing about the scrimmages is you’re able to see a guy like (Rashad) Torrence and (Mordecai) McDaniel and kind of see how they can play when the lights come on. I’ve been pleased with all of those guys as far as their ability to continue to develop. Now, we’re not where we need to be, but they’re certainly working in that direction.”