Quick takeaways from Florida football's 10th spring practice under Billy Napier

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

The Florida football program held its 10th spring practice session Tuesday afternoon across two outdoor practice fields.

Despite clear skies, windy conditions appeared to negatively affect the team’s preparation during the media’s 15-minute window to view practice. 

In attendance was former UF quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who also viewed Saturday’s session, in addition to Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. 

Here are takeaways from Tuesday’s spring practice.

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Former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel watches spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields in Gainesville, on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Wind leads to subpar showing for QBs, WRs

Winds exceeding 20 miles per hour were prominent during the first half of practice, so it was no surprise to see Florida’s quarterbacks misfire on multiple throws during the session. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson found his target more often than not, though he and his fellow quarterbacks, particularly Jalen Kitna, did put several throws in the dirt during the quarter of an hour viewing window.

After delivering one throw at the knees of his intended target, Richardson appeared critical of himself for a brief moment as coach Billy Napier, standing nearby, looked on and urged him to bounce back on his next repetition. Minutes later, the wide receiver group broke off into drills, including an exercise designed to improve the unit’s ability to catch low passes — it was clear this was planned rather than a reaction to a spew of drops and errant throws.

Wide receivers coach Keary Colbert was quite animated as he worked with the unit, and Colbert was frequently overheard harping on the importance of footwork. 

Dante Zanders continues heavy workload at TE

Head coach Billy Napier praised defensive lineman-turned-tight end Dante Zanders at the conclusion of UF’s first scrimmage Thursday, saying Zanders looks ready to contribute at a position lacking depth outside of presumed starter Keon Zipperer. 

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As the tight ends worked with the Gators’ signal-callers during the open portion of practice, Zanders displayed impressive hands and ideal speed at the position. On one repetition, Zanders made an impressive catch on an out route before turning upfield and displaying a surprising amount of burst as sprinted down the sideline. It wasn’t a surprise to hear Zanders would fill in at tight end, but his proficiency at the position has garnered acclaim from his coaching staff, and it was evident why on Tuesday. 

No contact for Demarkcus Bowman, Montrell Johnson 

Florida Gators running back Demarkcus Bowman (23) runs with the ball during spring practice at the University of Florida in Gainesville, on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. He's wearing an orange non-contact jersey.

Following Nay’Quan Wright’s return to practice Saturday, two members of UF’s backfield joined Wright in no-contact jerseys Tuesday. 

Demarkcus Bowman and Montrell Johnson were wearing no-contact jerseys Tuesday, indicating the pair of running backs were each dealing with minor ailments. The two were full participants in Saturday’s session at UF’s indoor practice facility. 

From what he's seen through two-thirds of spring camp, wide receiver Xzavier Henderson is high on the potential of the Gators' backfield. 

"We got Nay’Quan Wright, Montrell (Johnson), Lorenzo Lingard," Henderson said. "I feel like we need a great backfield for the pass game to open up, so I’m pretty excited about that.”

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Kamari Wilson returns to practice

Florida true freshman safety Kamari Wilson, one of three early enrollees from the 2022 recruiting class, had been absent for all of spring practice due to an unknown injury — a blow to Wilson’s start at the collegiate level. 

Wilson was back out on the practice field Tuesday, however, in a non-contact jersey working with the safety group before eventually exiting with Joe Danos. Considering UF’s depth issues at safety, Wilson’s return was a welcome addition for a room lacking experience outside of fifth-year safety Trey Dean.

Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Jeremiah “Scooby” Williams was also seen sporting a non-contact jersey during Tuesday's practice. 

“I’m really excited about Scooby, and Derek Wingo,” UF inside linebackers coach Jay Bateman said. “Two young guys who were kind of rotational pieces a year ago.”

Stadium hours 

As the Orange & Blue spring game approaches next week on April 14, the operating hours for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium have changed. 

On Saturday, April 9 the stadium will be closed all day and then for the spring game, the stadium will be closed all day on April 13, 14 and 15. On Wednesday and Friday this week, it's closed 3-5:30 p.m. and closed 3-5:30 p.m. on Monday April 11.