Post Spring Anonymous Player Q&A Part I: An in-depth look at spring football

Mar 29, 2021 | 1 comment


This marks the tenth off-season in which Inside the Gators has interviewed an anonymous 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 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 we asked an anonymous player to share his thoughts on the Class of 2021 early enrollees, players who surprised, disappointed, fastest, strongest and more.


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.

—–

What are your initial impressions of the early enrollees?

* Justus Boone – I think the coaches really expect or need him to play because he was pushed hard by Coach Turner this spring, harder than normal for a freshman. It took a few practices for him to get his footing, but he ended the spring making plays on defense.

* Chief Borders – He makes his presence known, he has a great personality and is a natural leader. The coaches love him and so do the guys on the team. Right now what he has going for him is his size and he is very strong for a freshman. He's got to learn to play every part of BUCK, but I could see where the coaches might put him in on third and long and let him do his thing.

* Corey Collier – He had an injury and missed some time, but he has size and skills and wants to be great. How much he puts into weight training in the next four months will be what decides how much he plays.

* Carlos Del-Rio – Carlos is just a very noticeable guy from his personality to his size. He is big and has great speed for being as big as he is. He surprised me at how he moves around because he looks bigger than a quarterback should. So does Anthony Richardson, but he’s in great shape, but Del Rio’s not in great shape. He makes plays and the coaches talk about him like he has a high ceiling. The biggest thing I saw is he is still learning how to adjust to the pace of the college game.

* Nick Elksnis – One of the most notable new guys, he is big and strong and makes lots of plays. He's a hard worker, but Coach Brew got on him a lot this spring. More than he did with other tight ends, but I think it’s making him a better player and he wants him to be ready for next year.

* Jalen Kitna – Jalen consistently improved throughout spring and he worked his way into getting more reps each day. I think he had an encouraging end to spring, like the last couple of practices. He is really quiet compared to the other freshmen.

* Jason Marshall – One of the reasons you'll see him play is because out of all the freshmen they were pointing him out as being a fast learner and he has all this natural talent. He improved the most from the first to the last day of spring and out of all the freshmen he will have the best chance at getting in the rotation this season.

* Donovan McMillon – One of the best newcomers on defense. What you can tell about him from the second you see him is he loves the game and works extremely hard. He has a good approach to practice and got better each day. Out of everyone out there he made lots of plays in the final scrimmage.

* Daejon Reynolds – You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Daejon is shifty for his size. I'm not saying he is Kadarius [Toney], but he can make you miss at over 200-pounds. You can tell he played at a high-level high school program because he understands what it means to put in the work. He goes hard throughout practice. He has some learning to do but will be a good receiver in the future.

* Christopher Thomas – He had to deal with some injuries, so he started off slow, but he got better as spring went along. You look at him and he looks game-ready with his size but he has to get a lot stronger because he gets pushed around when the offensive linemen get ahold of him.

* Desmond Watson – Desmond is already a presence in the middle. He still needs to trim up some, but he isn't as out of shape as it gets exaggerated on the Internet by fans. I think he is naturally big. He is already agile and strong. The other defensive linemen started slow but got better, but I think Watson was the opposite. He tailed off some at the end of spring after he came on strong to start.

* Jordan Young – Jordan is flat out fast and is all over the field. He plays hard and wants to learn all that he can.

Who were some of the real standouts of the pre-spring off-season workouts?

One of the most consistent and standout guys throughout spring was Mohmoud Diabate, he showed great leadership and showed up to work hard every day. Among the newcomers, Chief Borders came into the program acting as if he were a veteran. He is very vocal and pushed those around him to work harder.

Who are two or three of the strongest players on offense?

Josh Braun, Justin Shorter, and Jean Delance are probably three of the strongest guys on the offense. It’s hard to believe that Braun is so young because he has advanced strength. It’s not like sculpted, but real football strength.

Who are two or three of the strongest players on defense?

Zach Carter, Brenton Cox, and Antonio Valentino are three of the strongest guys on defense and put up big weight for each lift. In the last two years, Carter has really blown up and takes the weight room more seriously now. Cox came in looking sculpted. He looks like what you think a defensive end should look like. Valentino is bullish. He has Olympic kind of strength.

Who are two or three players on offense who need to improve strength-wise?

There really aren't any players who dog it in the weight room. You can't. The staff won't let you. I'd say that pretty much all of the guys made gains this off-season, but some of the younger guys such as Richie Leonard and Gerald Mincey need to get stronger before they are where they need to be. But that's because they are young and haven't been in the program as long as the other linemen.

Who are two or three players on defense who need to improve strength-wise?

It's the same as with the offense – some of the young guys such as Chris Thomas and Justus Boone need to get stronger in order to get in the lineup, but no one stands out as being soft.

Who are the fastest players on the team?

Justin Shorter, Amari Burney, and Jamarkis Weston are all very fast. It would be a good race between those three.

Who were some of the spring surprises?

Lorenzo Lingard was the biggest surprise of the offseason for me. He has finally mastered the playbook and adjusted to the team, he runs hard and fast and is very hard to tackle. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him this year.

Were there any disappointments?

It was disappointing to see some growing pains with the offense. But there are lots of new guys in prominent roles who got better throughout the spring. Emory [Jones] and Anthony [Richardson] are learning to take on a bigger leadership role. The receivers have their work cut out for them. I think Justin [Shorter] is right where he needs to be, but I'd be worried about the rest of the receivers.

—–

On Tuesday the anonymous player will take a closer look at the second-year players who didn't play much in 2020, surprises, disappointments, how the new transfers looked this spring, Dan Mullen, and much more.

Tags: Sport

Never miss the latest news from Inside the Gators!

Join our free email list