Florida Football: Top Performers from the Gators Spring Game
After an interesting Florida Gators spring game that ended in a 23-23 tie, it’s time to point out some of the best players from the glorified practice.
The good news is that the offense looked a lot sharper than the defense for a change. On the other side of the coin, it’s a spring game, which means that everything is very vanilla and the rules are meant to favor the offense to a certain extent.
Still, there were a lot of positives to take away from this game and a lot of key players who rose to the occasion and left a positive impact heading into the fall.
Here are the top performers from the 2014 Gators spring game.
5. Demarcus Robinson, WR
It looks like Florida finally has a go-to receiver: Demarcus Robinson has arrived.
OK, well, maybe it was against a vanilla defense, and it was one play, but Robinson’s 31-yard touchdown reception was a thing of beauty and should put a smile on your face as a Gator fan. Robinson not only took Jalen Tabor to school on a crossing route, but he also broke Jabari Gorman’s ankles in the open field to finish for the score.
Robinson finished the day with five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. Not a huge day, but his presence was felt, and he did just enough to convince that he has star potential as early as this season.
It cannot be said enough how desperate Florida’s offense is for a true No. 1 wide receiver. The Gators likely have one in Robinson.
4. Jonathan Bullard, DL
It’s fair to say Jonathan Bullard hasn’t lived up to the hype in his first two seasons at Florida with just three sacks in his career. The Gators coaching staff has now moved the former defensive end inside, and it looks like it may pay off in a big way this season.
Bullard consistently gave offensive linemen issues, harassing quarterback Jeff Driskel on a consistent basis. The talented pass-rusher should have finished the day with at least two sacks, but those aren’t tallied in spring games with no contact allowed to the quarterback.
Bullard is expected to be the leader of the defense line this season. If he can play the way he played early on in the spring game against other SEC opponents, he’ll have no problem making up for lost time.
3. Trenton Brown, RG
Trenton Brown played in all 12 games last year and started the final five at right tackle. This year, he’s expected to fill in at right guard which was a questionable decision by the coaching staff.
That no longer seems to be an issue if you were one doubting the switch.
Brown showed tremendous quickness in getting to the second level and was an absolute force in the running game. This is somebody who stands in at 6’8”, 361 pounds. So, he’s automatically going to be bigger than most defensive tackles on Saturday, and nobody is going to want to see him pulling and clearing space in the running game.
Brown’s quickness was in question due to his massive frame, however, this should no longer be an issue with what he showed during the spring game. Brown will be a vital piece to the offense this season due to being nearly unblockable.
2. Austin Hardin, K
OK, maybe not the player you were looking for, but Austin Hardin deserves his props, regardless of what position he plays. Florida missed 10 field goals last season and entered spring with kicker being one of the biggest position battles.
Hardin may have put the competition to bed in the spring game by making all four of his field-goal attempts. These kicks weren’t chip shots, as the distances included 43, 42, 35 and 24 yards. Yes, Hardin did miss an extra point early in the game, but that had more to do with the horrible snap.
Hardin struggled with consistency last season, so it’ll take more than one great game to convince anybody he’s turned the corner. However, this was a solid start to putting those kicking concerns to rest.
1. Mack Brown, RB
Mack Brown led the way for the first-team offense and finished the game with nine carries for 73 yards and a touchdown. It was his touchdown run that really made an impact, as he turned a play that probably should have resulted in a short gain into a score by reversing field and finding daylight.
Brown looked quicker than he has in the past and was shifty in the open field. He also displayed a great deal of power by picking up several yards on a few tough inside runs.
Brown was last year’s leading rusher with 543 yards, but he was expected to take a backseat this season with Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane and others looking to emerge. This spring performance may have changed that outlook.