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

Mar 30, 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 second-year players who didn't play much in 2020, surprises, disappointments, how the new transfers looked this spring, Dan Mullen, and much 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.

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What are your thoughts on the second-year players who didn’t see much action last year?

Lamar Goods – When he has been healthy he has been able to show that he can be a force because he’s strong and gives great effort, but his problem is that since he’s been here he’s struggled with lingering injuries.

Fenley Graham – A speedster, Fenley is all over the field and makes lots of plays both on defense and special teams. His best chance to see the field is on special teams.

Avery Helm – He has the right body and talent, but Avery just needs to get a little bit bigger and focus on improving his mindset when it comes to being great. It isn’t going to just happen for him, he has to want to work for it.

Jalen Lee – Jalen is one of those naturally big guys who carry a lot of weight but doesn't look out-of-shape. He has progressed a lot from last year to this spring. He isn't going to start with the new transfers coming in but I expect him to get in the game more this year and make plays.

Richie Leonard – He needs to work more on his technique because of his size. He lacks the physicality needed to be a really good guard, but he’s young and still has time.

Gerald Mincey – He is one of the most improved players on the team from last year to this year. He still needs to get stronger but I expect that he will have the opportunity to play good reps this fall as the top back-up tackle.

Johnathan Odom – He's on and off. One minute he is a jokester in the locker room or on the sidelines and the next he has this aggressive mentality where he refuses to lose a rep. It’s hard for him to stand out in a crowded tight end room but he could get meaningful reps because he is more of a traditional tight end than Zip [Keon Zipperer] or Kemore [Gamble].

Ethan Pouncey – Coming back from sitting out hurt, Ethan is consistently improving and I can see him getting reps in the fall but not starting or in meaningful minutes.

Antuwan Powell – If you see a practice or scrimmage you would be wondering why he doesn’t play more. Antuwan is a big strong guy who has killer pass rush moves. He is deceptively fast off the edge and made lots of plays in the scrimmages. Truthfully, he makes more plays than players ahead of him on the depth chart.

Jahari Rogers – He has talent, but there are lots of good young defensive backs on the team and Jahari hasn’t done anything to show out yet. I don’t get it because he plays hard and does what the coaches ask of him, but he kind of gets overlooked.

Trent Whittemore – He was slowed down dealing with injuries and sitting behind veteran wide receivers last year. To me what stands out about Trent is he is Mr. Consistency and he knows the playbook inside out. I don't think he will be a star, but, he will have a much larger role next season.

Derek Wingo – He came in raw, but he has learned a lot since last year under guys like Ventrell [Miller] and Mohamoud [Diabate]. He's a great athlete, but isn't in his best shape yet and is still perfecting his game. He's still a year away but is on the right track to getting meaningful reps.

Princely Umanmielen – Princely has had some issues with consistency, but there is no luck in talent and he has all the talent in the world. He is almost unblockable off the edge, but he needs to get out of his own head, go full-on every play and listen to the coaches and veteran players. He is the most talented d-lineman we have and he’s starting to come around but slowly.

What are your thoughts on the players who transferred out?

Iverson Clement – Iverson was the most vocal member of the offense and was liked by everybody. He ran hard and wanted to be great. That attitude has and will be missed, but thankfully we have a deep running back room. 

James Houston – What will be missed the most with James was his experience and leadership. We still have strong leaders in Ventrell [Miller] and Mohamoud [Diabate] to carry the group, but James was always vocal.

Chester Kimbrough – Chester was pretty quiet, but liked throughout the defense. His attitude of just showing up and putting in the work will be missed, but he probably made the best decision for him because there are cornerbacks moving ahead of him.

Quincy Lenton – Maybe he didn’t make a lot of plays but when players like Quincy leave what gets missed the most is the consistency of seeing them there. He was always around and steady on both defense and special teams. Without him, other guys in the safety room have had to take a bigger role.

CJ McWilliams – Like with Lenton, his absence will force younger guys to grow up quickly and take on a bigger role. Even if you're not starting when you are older you are still at the front of the line for the younger guys to watch and learn from. Even if the younger player is more talented, you still need veteran leadership around to show them the ropes. When veteran players move on that is missed.

Jesiah Pierre – He was a very likable guy and a good player, Jesiah will be missed by many guys in the locker room and on the field. However, his absence will open the door for younger guys to get more reps.

What are your thoughts on the incoming transfers?

Demarkcus Bowman – When he was out there you can see why he was a five-star. He is dealing with some injuries, but when he was playing he showed how quick and strong a runner he is. He was a constant home run threat before he hurt his knee.

Jace Christmann – He isn’t here yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Daquan Newkirk – Daquan brings great experience and talent to the defensive line. His time at Auburn has prepared him to be a dominant presence in the SEC this year. He's going to be our best pass-rush d-tackle this year.

Antonio Valentino – He’s not showy, but he is strong and experienced and can seal up the middle of the defense. I think our run defense is going to be better because he is going to play his role of plugging up the middle and not try to shoot the gap for a big play. He may not make 20 tackles for loss, but he isn’t going to give up a 20-yarder because he didn't hold his gap either.

Who is your candidate to be the breakout player on offense?

Emory Jones is set to have a breakout year, he still has to work on being consistent and a vocal leader instead of hanging in his group, but he got better every time he stepped on the field. Many people have been curious to see what he can do with full-game reps and I think he is going to prove he belongs as the Florida quarterback.

Who is your candidate to be the breakout player on defense?

I like for Mohamoud Diabate and Brenton Cox to build off of their 2020 seasons. Both guys had great springs and are full of talent, with increased reps in the fall both of these guys will have great seasons.

What are your thoughts on Nick Savage during the offseason?

The mat drills this year were tough both physically and mentally. In order to do well in the mat drills you have to be locked in mentally and do the drill perfectly or you would have to start over. This year’s Valentine’s Day lift was probably the hardest lift I’ve ever done, it was super heavy legs and arms as well as a cardio element. Last year they let some things slide, but they were more strict on everything this year. Like with the mat drills, we had to do everything perfectly or we would have to do it again.

Mullen’s last words to us after the last scrimmage was that this period between the end of spring and fall camp is the most important to our development and that we need to lock in this offseason. Coach Savage will have an extremely detailed plan and get us in great shape for the fall.

Summer workouts will start up on Monday [3/29) when we all get back.

My favorite thing about him is that he is hard-core when he needs to be, but he can keep it light when he feels like we need a mental break. One fun thing we did was he had a match where the players played dodgeball against the strength staff. Things like that give us a break from working out and rejuvenates us. You can’t just go hard all the time, it would burn us all out.

Have you seen any difference in Dan Mullen this spring as compared to last year?

Last year was definitely a difficult year for everyone involved in the program, especially coach Mullen. I think Coach handled the pandemic and the difficulties that come with running a program as best as he could. After winning over 10 games the first two years there was a lot of pressure to have a great year last year and we came up short. That is frustrating and no one cares more than coach Mullen. I think this spring has been a refreshing break and a clean start, everyone on the staff is excited. I do think he had a new motivation this spring and is trying to correct any mistakes from last season. Coach was motivated and had high energy every day this spring trying to get us as prepared as possible.

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