Each off-season Inside the Gators interviews the departing seniors and early entry juniors for our Parting Shots series. It enables us to get an in-depth look back on their time at Florida as well as what they're up to now and plans for the future.
ITG has several interviews already set up, but for the very first in the 2013 series, we wanted to try something different. We asked a player to anonymously share his thoughts on players who fit into four different categories: NFL early entries, The graduating seniors, The players who transferred since last season and the true freshmen who redshirted this past season.
As an aside, allowing a player to comment anonymously has both an up and down side. The upside, of course, is that they get to speak more freely and share their real thoughts. The downside, commenting anonymously gives them a pass to say what they want without fear of reprisal or having to answer for their comments.
After taking everything into consideration, it was determined that there is great value in what a person who has been around these players for years thinks about each of them.
EARLY ENTRY JUNIORS
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd - Good guy. Always wanted to practice. He was always getting guys pumped up. He'll have a long NFL career, God willing. No one should hold it against him that he left early. He wants to take care of his grandmother, which means more to him than trying to win a National Championship next year. She struggled her whole life to provide for him and they had it really rough growing up. He just wants to be able to repay her. Also, he saw how Easley got hurt, all it takes is one wrong move. He doesn't have a whole lot to gain by coming back.
Safety Matt Elam - He was the kind of guy that led by his actions on the field. He hated when guys yelled at him or to him on the sidelines. He doesn't need that to be motivated. Calm off the field, but a maniac between the lines. I think he's a good guy.
Tight end Jordan Reed - I think he's going to do really well in the NFL where there is a demand for tight ends like him. He creates mismatches. Too big for a safety to cover and too fast for a linebacker. He is really humble. Kinda like Percy Harvin in terms of work ethic, when he practiced, he practiced hard, but he didn't always practice. This is a weak tight end class this draft, so he doesn't have a whole lot to gain by coming back. Those rumors about him being benched during the Sugar Bowl are not true. He had a hurt knee. He wanted to play more; he is a competitor. Come on, when you ball out every game, why would you not want to play? He would have been a difference maker in the game if he was healthy. He didn't always have the best attitude, but he wasn't benched. I think he'll have a great showing at the combine. He'll run fast and jump out of the gym.
* While splitting reps with John Brantley in 2010...
Jordan may be a smart guy, but football smart and intelligence are actually two different things. He obviously knows the tight end position and can create space for himself, but he was not football smart enough to play quarterback. When he split time with Brantley, Trey Burton called the plays for Reed most of the time.
* Compared to Aaron Hernandez...
Reed has better leaping ability and body control while in the air than Hernandez. Their style of play is pretty similar and so is their speed. They will be used the same in the NFL. Hernandez may be better with the ball in his hands, picking up yards after the catch. Hernandez has really good field vision.
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins - Big, strong and fast. He's a good teammate. He only talked when he needed to. His football intelligence kind of flew under the radar, but he is really smart. He's going to have a good career.
The comments above are not word for word direct quotes - for continuity and spacing issues, the comments were paraphrased in places. Though some comments were cut out, none were added.
Coming Up: Tuesday: The graduating seniors Wednesday: The transfers Thursday: The redshirted freshmen