Florida Gators Football

Florida Gators Football: Spring Practice Position Battle Tracker

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMarch 31, 2014

Florida Gators Football: Spring Practice Position Battle Tracker

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    The Florida Gators are halfway through spring practice and are still trying to figure out answers to key position battles. A lot of these questions will remain just that heading into the fall, but the idea is to be better off than you were before spring practices began.

    Good news for Florida fans is that progress is being made in key areas, and the coaching staff is pleased with what they’ve seen so far.

    From linebacker to safety to wide receiver, here are some of the latest updates on the team's biggest spring position battles. 

Wide Receiver

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Quinton Dunbar 

    Guys Competing for a Job: Andre Debose, Valdez Showers, Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood, Chris Thompson, Raphael Andrades, Latroy Pittman, Alvin Bailey, Marqui Hawkins

    Latest Update

    There’s a reason there are a ton of names on the list competing for a job at wide receiver. Florida is starving for offensive playmakers to make life easier on quarterback Jeff Driskel.

    The list of names is a lot more than depth. There’s actually talent in this bunch. It’s just a matter of who is going to grow up and separate themselves from the pack.

    Coach Will Muschamp is confident in about six guys right now, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.

    "We've got six guys right there that have repped pretty well for us at the position that you can roll in and out." Muschamp said. 

    The players making the biggest impact at receiver right now include Dunbar, Pittman, Robinson, Thompson and Fulwood. Others will continue to get their chances to make an impact, though.

    We could even see a wideout-by-committee approach this season. 

Cornerback

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Vernon Hargreaves III 

    Guys Competing for a Job: Jalen Tabor, Duke Dawson

    Latest Update

    Just as Hargreaves III took over as a true freshman, Tabor and Dawson have been given the same opportunity. Coach Muschamp couldn't be any more satisfied with what he's seen so far, according to Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com:

    [Tabor] and Duke Dawson both have been a quick study as far as the corner position is concerned, Muschamp said. Both of them are going to be really good players. They've got to just continue. 

    The willingness is there and the coachability is there with both guys. They're willing to be in the film room extra. They're willing to come up here after hours and meet with our coaches and go over things and go over schemes and watch film and learn from it. The one thing that I would say [is] that they both have a very similar ability as Vernon -- when you tell them once they get it. They don't make that mistake again.

    Tabor is the likely starter alongside Hargreaves, while Dawson is battling it out with Brian Poole at the nickeback position. This is still a position battle worth keeping an eye on, but unless something crazy happens, it looks like Florida enters the season with its starting cornerback tandem.

Linebacker

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Antonio Morrison, Neiron Ball, Michael Taylor 

    Guys Competing for a Job: Daniel McMillian, Jarrad Davis, and anybody whose healthy. 

    Latest Update

    Florida will have a better idea of what to do at this position when everybody is healthy—hopefully in fall camp. Key players Alex Anzalone, Matt Rolin and Jeremi Powell aren't participating in the spring due to injuries. Morrison and Taylor are fighting for the middle linebacker spot. Meanwhile, the strong-side position is also up for grabs once there are enough healthy bodies to compete for it. 

    Here are 247Sports' Thomas Goldkamp's thoughts on the linebacker position halfway through camp:

    There hasn't been a perceptible jump in physicality from Taylor or Morrison, but Davis has been a hard-hitting linebacker who can drive through contact this spring. If nothing else, he adds an extra reliable body to the linebacker mix this fall.

    Getting linebackers healthy at this point is a lot more important than finding out who is going to play where. 

Safety

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Returning Starters: None

    Guys Competing for a Job: Jabari Gorman, Marcus Maye, Marcell Harris, Keanu Neal, Nick Washington 

    Latest Update

    Safety is a position that won’t be settled until fall camp arrives. There just isn’t enough experience and guys aren’t impressing the coaching staff during spring ball.

    Head coach Will Muschamp does like what he’s seen from Gorman, but that’s about it, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.

    "He has done a nice job, the others I can’t say that, but he has done a nice job," Muschamp said.

    Gorman is the most experienced safety on the roster, while Maye started a couple of games last season, too. The rest of the candidates are extremely young and are being thrown into the fire. This position will be an ongoing process that includes growing pains. The good news is there are plenty of bodies and still enough time to figure things out.

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