FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
This marks the ninth off-season in which Inside the Gators has interviewed an anonymous departing player in order for him to share his thoughts on an array of topics regarding Florida Gators football.
In the past we have conducted these far reaching interviews in late summer. We may still do one or two longer ones this year, but I also wanted to make a change in that I wanted to get some information on returning players and this segment of the off-season regime here before spring practice.
Therefore, over the next couple of weeks we'll be conducting shorter interviews with a couple of anonymous player in order to give our readers a better understanding of what is currently going on and some players they should be on the lookout for this spring.
As an aside, allowing a player to comment anonymously obviously has its benefits and downside. The goal of this feature is to give our readers an honest and freely expressive look at the Florida football team, but we also acknowledge the nature of anonymous comments and the stigma that can come with them.
NOTE: This is a different player answering these questions than the one in Part I
How was this past offseason different than the first off-season under Mullen and Savage?
The attitude in our first offseason was that we were a little unsure of what we could accomplish as a team given a new coaching staff. We were Just really hoping for the best. This past offseason we realized our potential as a team, based off the outcome of the first season, which pushed us harder. The workouts were were also much harder in my opinion this past year, Coach [Nick] Savage really turned it up.
With it being year two under Nick Savage, was there a noticeable difference in the conditioning of the team compared to two years ago or even last year?
The second offseason under Coach Savage seemed much more intense. The first year was kind of a feeling out process on both sides. He didn’t know what he was getting in us and we didn’t know what to expect from him. That first year there was a lot of players complaining – not the not buying in kind of complaining – but complaining because they weren’t used to working so hard and we had players who weren’t in good enough shape to get through what he wanted to put us through. This last year I never really heard anyone complain they were weren’t able to keep up like they did the first year. Everyone was in much better shape to start and knew what to expect.. The only complaint we heard over and over last year was about that Florida heat during camp.
What was the mood like when Feleipe Franks went down against Kentucky and Kyle Trask came in? With the way Trask has played, does anyone on the team question why he wasn't starting to begin with?
I think a lot of fans and outsiders were surprised by Kyle’s performance after Feleipe went down, but no on the team really was. I think Dan Mullen said once that we have three starting quarterbacks, and he’s right. We knew we were in good hands whether its Feleipe, Kyle, or Emory [Jones]. No one really questioned why Kyle wasn’t starting within the team, that's more of a fan thing. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Do you believe that Kyle Trask will be the opening day starter over Emory Jones next season? What percentage would you put on it?
This isn’t a cop out answer, but as far as quarterback play I’m not an expert, so I don't really know each of their strengths and weaknesses. They all have there own things they’re great at, but I’m not sure whats gonna happen next season. I know that's vague, but I’m being honest. I don't have a percentage each will play, but I’d bet it would at least start out similar to how it was this season.
Why is it do you believe that when Emory Jones comes in the game it is a designated running play 95% of the time?
I'm not sure why Emory usually runs it, but I know he can throw. I have seen him complete some incredible passes in practices and scrimmages and in some games. You'll have to ask Coach Mullen why that happens, but it must have to do with his overall game plan. That's why he gets the big bucks.
Who is a young player on offense and defense that the Gator Nation hasn't really started focusing on yet but should?
On offense it’s Jacob Copeland. I think people have taken some notice, especially after the South Carolina game, but he hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he is going to become. I really believe he will be one of the best receivers in the country in the next year or two. He's got the best combination of build and speed on the team. I'd bet by the time he goes to the NFL combine he will be running a 4.35 from what I've seen.
On defense the fans need to keep an eye on Khris Bogle. He'll attract plenty of attention next season on his own. What he did during bowl week practice as opposed to fall camp is night and day.
When one aspect of a team, in this case the offensive line, seems to be the unit that is most hindering the team from being great, how does that play out among the players? Is there any talk that they need to pull their weight?
There's no talk that they need to pull their weight. Using the offensive line example, its pretty clear to everyone how difficult it is to play that position and everyone from quarterbacks to corners understand that. The fans seem to not know that or not want to give them a learning curve. You go heads-up with a Jon Greenard or Jabari Zuniga for one snap and you'll understand. Coach [John] Hevesy has them in good hands. A player might be disappointed in a loss, but I’ve always focused more on my own position and what I need to do to get better.
Georgia has won three in a row over Florida. What was the mood like heading into last year's game? What was the mood after the game?
I don't really remember the mood going into the UGA game, but I felt like no matter the score, we are gaining on them. The first two years of this losing streak it felt like they were the better team. Even though we lost last year, I felt like as a team we were better than when we won the game my first year 92016). What I remember after we lost (this past season) is that Coach Savage, Coach Mullen and some of the older guys like the four senior receivers, especially Freddie Swain and Jonathan Greenard. He is one of the greatest leaders I've ever met and will be very successful in life because of it. They all talked to the team to try to pick us up and let us know that we still had a lot to play for. They told us to continue to work hard to learn from our mistakes and for everyone to keep their heads up and keep practicing hard and hold to the Gator Standard.
Who is a player that really surprised you last year?
The young player that surprised me is Ethan White. He worked crazy hard to lose the weight. If he keeps it up, he’s going to be an All American in a few years.
Who is a player who you thought would do more?
Probably Kemore Gamble. We had Kyle Pitts and some young tight ends, but I thought he got lost in the rotation.
How would you describe Dan Mullen as a coach and person off the field?
Coach Mullen is very friendly and approachable. Has an open door attitude. Also he is the coach that sets the top example for the team in everything he does. He’s always eating salads and healthy crap. He’s usually already working up a sweat by the time all the players get to our 6 a.m. workouts. Everything about him is him being positive. He has a way about him, I don’t know know to explain it. He breaks things down to make them more relatable or attainable. To make the most out of a season, you have to make the most out of each day, make the most out of each practice, maximize each rep. I was here for two years of Coach [Jim] McElwain and two years of Coach [Dan] Mullen and they are both head coaches, and that’s the only thing they have in common. Everything has been different these last two years. From how we practice, how we play, how we eat, how we’re treated, how we are valued. Coach Mullen stresses things that have nothing to do with making us better players, but it makes us better men, which leads to us being better teammates. I can’t imagine if I had started off with Coach Mullen and then had to have another head coach. Can you imagine being a Mississippi State player who started out with Coach Mullen and then had to watch him leave for Florida?
What are your overall impressions of where Florida football stands today?
There’s a lot more young talent on both sides of the ball now than when I got here. I only see Florida getting better and better over the the next couple of seasons.