Anonymous Player Q&A II: Thoughts on the true freshmen

Jan 19, 2021 | 1 comment

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This marks the tenth 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, however, last year we began them in the spring. That set-up seemed to work best, so that's how we'll begin in 2021.

Over the next couple of weeks, and then months, we'll be conducting shorter interviews with a couple of anonymous players in order to give our readers a better understanding of what happened last season, what is currently going on, and some players they should be on the lookout for this spring.

Today ask an anonymous player to share his thoughts on the Class of 2020 true freshmen.

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.


Going back to off-season workouts, when it comes to the weight room and workouts, which of the freshmen are standouts?

This year wasn't the same as before. We all didn't work out together as much or come in contact as much when we came back after the layoff. We worked out in the IPF instead of the weight room and the assigned times kept the groups apart. So I can only go by what I’ve seen and some of what I heard. Out of the freshmen, Derek Wingo is pretty strong for his size. You couldn't tell by looking at him but Princely [Umanmielen] is pretty good with the weights. He is stronger than you would think. [Gervon] Dexter is Dexter. He stands out considering his size and how athletic he is. He could get stronger, but I think that will come when you see the leadership role he already has as a true freshman, you know he is going to do whatever he needs to do.

Now, the flip side being, of the incoming freshmen, who wasn't in great shape when it came to conditioning? Who maybe wasn't the strong as they should be for their position?

You don't want to get on freshmen too bad because you don't know what to expect when you get to someplace like Florida. You thought you were in good shape or you thought you were a hard worker and then when you get here you realize this is a whole other world. What you think is good isn't good enough. [Jonathan] Odom needs to hit the weights, but in his defense, he was fresh off of shoulder surgery. Avery Helm is skinny as hell. I want to see what he looks like after these next three months. He won't play until he gets bigger and stronger.

What was the reaction from the players when it was found out that Anthony Richardson tweeted during the Arkansas game? Did he get in any trouble?

We aren't allowed on our phones because even if you aren't playing, your head needs to be in the game. For him, he wasn't on there taking a selfie or anything like that, he was pumping up a teammate, so nothing happened to him. We all found out after the game and just laughed about it. Literally, nothing happened to him that I know about.

Name a true freshman or two on offense who you are certain will start next year.

Josh Braun, size-wise, he knows how to use it. He’s one of those freshmen that came in and picked up the plays instantly. He's big and strong, but he's also as smart as anyone on the team. He'll definitely be a starter by next year.

My other one might be Xzavier Henderson. I saw some of the complaints about the way he dropped some passes and messed up plays at first, but I don’t think people realize how complex our offense is and how fast Kyle Trask can sling it. He’ll be fine. Once he is used to the system he'll be moved right into the starting lineup because he is as fast as anyone on the team and he is tall for a receiver. He's lanky so he needs to get bigger and stronger, but when he does he'll be our best wide receiver.

Name a true freshman or two on defense who you are certain will start next year.

I have two, Gervon Dexter and Derek Wingo? We all follow recruiting, so we know how players are ranked coming in, and sometimes I've seen players come in who were all-stars [five-star] and acted like it. Those two didn't act privileged or like they were different. They both work as hard as they are talented. I don't know about these two new guys (transfers Shelton and Newkirk), but Dexter will definitely be a starter in my book. Wingo has a great build and has already gained some weight. He has a chance to start depending on what happens with Amari [Burney]. If the coaches leave Amari at linebacker and let him settle in and learn that position, he'll probably start over Wingo and [TyRon] Hopper. If the coaches keep moving him around, Wingo is as much of an athlete as he is and could take over outside if Burney isn't allowed to stick in one place. 

There were four true freshmen who didn't play in a single game. Can you share your thoughts on each of them?

Lamar Goods: When we had team agilities [in the spring], he was winning damn near all of the times he competed. He was just a go-getter from the jump. He started out getting hurt [foot injury according to Florida] and then he decided to opt-out of the rest of the season. I don't know if it was him or maybe someone close to him with a medical condition that he didn't want to risk anything. I think he’ll be fine once he’s 100% again.

Richie Leonard and Gerald Mincey: They were good on the scout team and Zach Carter complimented them all the time. Richie is a hard worker but his size might keep him from moving ahead of the other centers. Mincey has the tools to be a starter outside, but he doesn't take it seriously enough yet. He has to learn to work harder if he wants to get on the field. He has the talent.

Ethan Pouncy: I can't really say anything about him. He was hurt all year and I didn't see him really do anything.

You said that Mincey needed to work a little harder. Who are the freshmen with the best and the worst work ethic?

I think I said it before, but when you first get to Florida you are still learning about what it takes to make it at this level. You might have just got by on talent in high school or you might think you are a hard worker, but you have to take it to another level here. I wouldn't want to judge someone as not being a hard worker yet. Some players need to take it more seriously. One that I can think of is [Jonathan] Odom. He got clowned on all season for being late all the time. You can tell he came from a different background. He has talent, but he doesn't have any dog in him yet. He always had some excuse like something was wrong with his truck, or he was at his girlfriend’s house and there was some sort of issue. We all laugh at that stuff when they are a freshman, but he better figure it out by next season or it goes from being funny to pissing people off.

Most all of the freshmen defensive backs. The best work ethic is Jahari Rogers. He is one of the hardest workers on the team. Kamar [Wilcoxson] stayed after practice to work on his own a lot. [Rashad] Torrence has pretty good size and always puts in extra work after practice. He’s another freshman that is going to start.

Other than Leonard and Mincey, who else stood out on the scout team?

Antwaun Powell gave the starting offensive line fits as a Buck. 

When you look down the list of the number of games each freshman appeared in this past season, the two that really stand out are both Anthony Richardson and Jalen Lee only playing in four games. What are your thoughts on those two?

Richardson got jacked this year. He's one of the freshmen who work really hard. He will share the load with EJ [Emory Jones] next year. Not like as a co-starter, but he will play. A lot of people think Lee should’ve played more, but when you’re a coach and you have trust in your players, you feel like you have to stick with them. That's what they did [with TJ Slaton and Kyree Campbell], they ran with the ones who’ve been there, but Lee was capable of playing more.

Three defensive backs, Tre'Vez Johnson, Mordecai McDaniel, and Rashard Torrence saw action in all but one game. Thoughts on them?

Kaiir [Elam], Johnson, and Torrence, and from what I've heard the [Jason] Marshall and [Corey] Collier kids they got coming in. are going to be the ones that bring the DBU name back to Gainesville. Johnson and Torrence want to be great. They were like sponges this year and they are as hard of workers as they are talented. We have to wait to see if Brad [Stewart] comes back, he is thinking about it, before we know how much they play.  I only noticed McDaniel on special teams and he has to put more effort into it at practice if he wants to step up to a starting position.


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Check back with Inside the Gators over the next several weeks and months as we continue our in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the Florida football squad.


Tags: Sport

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