Over the past decade, during the offseason Inside the Gators has run several Anonymous Player Departing Thoughts Q&A sessions with individual players. This time around, we've changed the format somewhat in that it isn't the traditional interview, but rather sharing offseason workout and player tidbits from a few different sources in a three-part July edition of the series.
* On the difference in Dan Mullen from last year to this year: I don't know Coach Mullen away from football, like personally, but you could tell last year he wasn't as hard on the players, knowing that we are dealing with a lot outside of football, so he kind of let things slide more. Like with classes. With everyone remote learning there wasn't as much oversight as there was when we have to physically go to class and a coach might stop in to see who showed up on time. They didn't or couldn't do that or keep up with it last year. It was more like let's all just try to get through this any way we can. This year he's had moments where he looked back to normal. He was more involved. More active.
* On the overall difference between last year and this year: The biggest difference this year is it's back to being completely normal. Last year, when we could get together, we still had to be tested, wear masks, and keep our distance. This year it's back to being more normal. Guys seemed to come together in the off-season and bonded as we would compete with other teams in drills.
* On the difference between workouts last year and this year: Nick Savage and his staff have been great this offseason turning up the pressure and intensity more. I'm sure they would tell you that they were hard on us last year, and they probably think they were but even when we were working out as a team last year it was different. The intensity and push weren't there like it's been in the past. Last year we were doing workouts at home depending on what kind of equipment was available, this year they are watching everything we do and putting the players first, and making sure everyone is getting their work done. They also get to know the players on a personal level more this year than last year when we were doing online workouts and them being there in person to push us motivates us players more.
* On who were the pre-spring workout standouts: A few of the standouts of the pre-spring workouts were Dameon Pierce, Lorenzo Lingard, Mohamoud Diabate, Ventrell Miller, and Richard Gouraige. I did not get the chance to work out with everyone because there are different lift groups/times but these were the names that attacked every workout by showing leadership and going all in.
* On who are the strongest players for their position: On offense, for their position, they are Dameon Pierce, JaMarkis Weston, and Kingsley Eguakun. On defense, Dylan Meeks, Trey Dean, Ty'Ron Hopper, Gervon Dexter, Antonio Valentino, and Ventrell Miller.
* The fastest players on the team are Kaiir Elam, Tre‘Vez Johnson, Avery Helm, JaMarkis Weston, and Jaydon Hill.
* Some of the players that surprised the most in the spring were Fenley Graham, Jordan Young, Kingsley Eguakun, Justus Boone, and Daejon Reynolds.
* On two breakout players on each side of the ball: Two breakout players on offense will be JaMarkis Weston or Justin Shorter and Xzavier Henderson. On defense, I would look out for Princely Umanmielen and Jason Marshall. Princely has gotten even stronger and faster if that is possible.
* The standouts during Summer A workouts were Justin Shorter, Derek Wingo, Lorenzo Lingard, Demarkus Bowman, and Josh Braun.
* Young players who transformed their bodies the most are Ty'Ron Hopper, Avery Helm, Ethan White, Ja'Quavion Fraziars. Helm has started to get some confidence. Last year he would kind of hang around in the back and wasn’t as involved as he is now. He's gotten bigger and is still one of the fastest players. I think Fraziars is going to start coming into his own.
* Older players that fans should be on the lookout for are Justin Shorter, Zach Carter, Malik Davis, Daquan Newkirk. This is probably the first time Davis has felt 100% in the last three years. I think he is going to be like Kadarius Toney last year by being someone who has talent but didn't take advantage of it until his last year.
* Initial impressions you have on the 12 early entry signees:
Jason Marshall – He is most likely going to play this year and the coaches love him, kid is special.
Corey Collier – Corey was hurt for part of spring so there’s really not much to say about him. He is going to need some time to get ready to play in the SEC.
Carlos Del Rio – He is going to be a good player, he’s young and developing still, but is a great addition.
Donovan McMillon – He is a savage. The kid flies around and makes plays, one of my personal favorites throughout spring.
Justus Boone – He is going to be a good player, he has fundamentals and a nose for the football. As he learns the defense he will be good.
Deajon Reynolds – He’s big, but he looks a lot like the rest of the receivers so I don't know how much he plays this year.
Chief Borders – Chief is physical and has the potential to be really good. His energy is contagious and is always ready to work.
Desmond Watson – Big Des is as big as they come with some finesse moves that make him look like a defensive end. He's already a great run stuffer.
Nick Elksnis – This kid is special. I think he will be a great player for us.
Christopher Thomas – Chris got hurt during spring but he has a high ceiling.
Jordan Young – I didn't see too much of him before spring practice and then he was everywhere.
Jalen Kitna – I don't know how much we’re going to see of him at quarterback but he’s got a big heart.