Florida football: 5 players who raised their stock this spring
In a game that featured dominant defense and offensive inconsistency, Florida's Orange Team eked out a 10-7 win over the Blue Squad on Thursday night at The Swamp.
The game concluded 15 practices that provided some needed development and cohesion heading into fall camp to prepare for the season-opener Aug. 31 at Utah.
Here's a look at five players who raised their stock during spring drills:
WR Marcus Burke
In competition with sophomore Caleb Douglas for the third receiver spot next to returning starters Ricky Pearsall and Xzavier Henderson, Burke sprung open for a 16-yard touchdown catch from Jack Miller in the first quarter. In the third quarter, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Burke made an acrobatic catch along the sideline to complete a 39-yard pass from quarterback Graham Mertz.
"Marcus is a talented young man. I mean, he is tall," Florida coach Billy Napier said. "He is long. He is fast. Marcus is learning how to be more consistent as a person. I'm proud of him and the progress that he has showed, right? He is a guy that's always been one of the more talented guys, and I think he has grown up this offseason in particular."
LB Scooby Williams
Williams was one of five players who earned Channing Crowder best linebacker honors this spring and demonstrated it on the field in the spring game with two tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry.
The 6-2, 238-pound Williams also will take on an important role in calling the defenses this season.
“Scooby’s very smart," Florida inside linebackers coach Jay Bateman said. "What we're asking Scooby to do right now and what we will ask him to do during the season, I think very few people can do. We literally have calls where he’s playing one position and based on the call he goes and plays another position. Scooby, he’s got that 'aw shucks' about him, but he's a really bright kid and a really talented kid.”
RT Damieon George Jr
The 6-6, 369-pound George, an Alabama transfer, was named as one of eight most improved players in the spring game. He started at right tackle on the first-team offensive line ahead of Kiyaunta Goodwin and was solid in pass protection throughout the game.
"He's a good player," Florida left tackle Austin Barber said. "Big, long, tall, he's just a guy and I feel like he does a lot of things right. He can move, he can bend. I think he's going to be good for us."
LB Mannie Nunnery
A Houston transfer, Nunnery was originally expected to be a main contributor on special teams. But he made plays all over the field for the Blue team with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup.
The 6-1, 227-pound Nunnery was one of five players to earn a Channing Crowder linebacker award this spring and could figure into UF's inside linebacker rotation with Shemar James and Williams.
"That's probably the take-away for me as I go home and sleep tonight is a lot of new players making a significant impact," Napier said. "You can see it in the game."
TE Arlis Boardingham
A redshirt freshman who sat out last year due to injury, Boardingham was named as one of the most improved freshmen in spring camp. With injuries to tight ends Keon Zipperer, Dante Zanders and Jonathan Odom, Boardingham was able to get targets in the spring game and took advantage of the opportunity, finishing with 3 catches for 33 yards, with 12 of those yards coming after the catch.
The 6-3, 246-pound Boardingham brings a speed element to the tight end position that the Gators lacked last season.
"He's extremely gifted," Florida tight ends coach Russ Callaway said. "He's a unique player that can do a lot of different things. He can run block, he can pass block, he can run routes, he can catch the ball, he can make plays with the ball in his hand."