Florida football: Takeaways from the Gators' 10th spring practice, 12 days to spring game

Ainslie Lee
The Gainesville Sun

Cleats hit Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday morning as the Florida Gators football team held its 10th installment of spring practice. 

As of Saturday, Billy Napier and the Gators are just 12 days from returning to The Swamp for Florida’s Orange and Blue Game, which is set to be played on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. 

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s brief look at practice. 

Running back Trevor Etienne sports non-contact jersey

Sophomore running back Trevor Etienne, who rushed for more than 700 yards and six touchdowns last fall, sported a black, non-contact jersey Saturday morning. 

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Despite the non-contact distinction, Etienne didn’t seem limited in the glimpse of drills media members were able to see. 

Will Norman emerging as vocal leader on defensive line

There was a constant voice coming from the defensive line unit as members of the defensive front went through a swat drill in the corner of the end zone. 

That voice belonged to Gators rookie Will Norman, who chose Florida over schools such as Texas A&M and LSU.

Florida defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who previously held a job with the New York Giants, just outside of Norman’s hometown of Camden, N.J., was a big factor in Norman’s decision to join the Gators. 

Considering his freshman status, it’s unclear how much action Norman will see in his first season. 

But if nothing else, Florida’s defensive line unit, which boasts an incredibly high ceiling, has a young, vocal leader in Norman. 

Quarterback battle continues

Forgive us if you’ve heard this before, but Florida’s quarterback battle continued into Saturday’s practice as both recent Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz and holdover Jack Miller continued to duke it out with even reps. 

In the limited view of practice, Miller hit receiver Ricky Pearsall on a shallow slant to the inside, while Mertz connected with Marcus Burke on the same route. 

Later in the drill, Mertz hit freshman receiver Andy Jean in the hands, but Dean wouldn’t make the catch. 

In one of the final reps of the open-practice period, both Miller and Mertz connected on passes as Mertz hit Pearsall on a shallow crossing route and Miller found Kahleil Jackson on a deeper in-route.