Quick takeaways from Florida football's seventh spring practice with coach Billy Napier
Florida’s seventh spring practice, held Tuesday across both outdoor practice fields, marked the football program’s final practice session before its first spring scrimmage.
With the program still in the instructional phase, the Gators have divided repetitions fairly evenly thus far, though the competition is expected to increase by the end of the week when Florida has put more in-game scenarios on film.
Until then, much of what can be gleaned from practice comes from drills during the 15-minute viewing portion.
Before the Gators close practice to the media for Thursday’s scrimmage, here are takeaways from Tuesday’s practice session.
Another position change for Griffin McDowell?
Depth continues to be an issue for Florida’s pass-catching unit, namely the tight end group. The Gators are without a trio of tight ends in Nick Elksnis, Jonathan Odom and Gage Wilcox. Elksnis is out for the remainder of camp with a broken scapula, while Odom underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. It’s unknown if Wilcox’s unavailability is due to injury or not, but he hasn’t been seen at practice since UF commenced spring camp March 15.
That leaves the Gators with Lakeland native Keon Zipperer, who was rated the No. 1 halfback prospect by ESPN as a high school prospect, as the team’s primary tight end. UF also moved former Buchholz linebacker Noah Keeter to tight end, but Tuesday there was another Gator working with the tight end group whose presence was a bit of a surprise: Griffin McDowell.
If McDowell sticks at tight end, it will mark the redshirt senior’s third position in his UF career. McDowell started his career at UF as an offensive lineman before transitioning to defensive line prior to the 2021 season. After switching positions, McDowell would appear in all 13 of UF’s games last season, albeit primarily on special teams.
With the Gators missing a significant presence at a position where blocking and talented hands are a prerequisite, McDowell may just have the skill set the program needs to get through spring with enough tight ends to keep what’s left of the unit fresh.
Shakeup at safety as Jadarrius Perkins can’t go
Prior to last season, Jadarrius Perkins ended up being an impressive addition for the Gators. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi, native initially intended to play with Missouri after spending spring camp with the program, but Perkins opted to transfer to UF in the summer, where his teammate for two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Diwun Black, was set to begin his Division I football experience.
Despite only being on campus for a matter of months, Perkins saw the field in nine games for UF, and the expectation was he would build on his impressive start when he participated in his first spring camp with the Gators. But Perkins hasn’t been at practice for at least a week. Perkins, sans pads, was seen Tuesday departing practice on crutches; the team hasn’t divulged his diagnosis.
With Perkins out, redshirt freshman safety Corey Collier has gotten an extended look at the safety spot. The 6-foot-1 Collier, a four-star signee out of Miami, saw the field in two games last season, though he didn’t record any statistics.
Lloyd Summerall seen in non-contact jersey
Lloyd Summerall, a redshirt junior outside linebacker out of Lakeland, was sporting the orange non-contact jersey, indicating he had been banged up in some capacity. Summerall was still able to participate in instructional drills with coach Mike Peterson, though the media was unable to witness if Summerall could participate in live drills.
Along with Summerall and the quarterbacks, Jalen Kimber and Jaydon Hill remained in non-contact jerseys as the pair continue rehabilitating after undergoing surgery last Fall.