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.
THE REDSHIRTING FRESHMEN
Buck Bryan Cox Jr. - Practices hard and has good size for a freshman, but I don't know if he has the speed rush ability or the burst to play the Buck position. I think he could be a very good inside backer. He's really physical.Not afraid of contact. He's a nice kid off the field too. He's a BIG kid. If he could be 265, he could be like a Bama middle linebacker. It works well for them, so maybe we should try some massive backers as well.
Offensive guard Jessamen Dunker - Kind of a $h!thead, but they need him to play. Coaches are hoping he can push for a starting spot in the spring. Not a stand-up citizen. Would not be surprised if he didn't finish his career at Florida, and not because he isn't talented enough to play here. Hopefully he matures quickly. (Note: As was posted in the Alley, this interview was conducted last weekend before this week's off the field issues with Dunker happened).
Kicker Austin Hardin - He pulled his quad pretty bad this season, so he just started kicking again not that long ago. It probably takes time to get your form back after injuries, but he needs some work. I think Brad Phillips will give him a lot of competition next year for the starting spot.
Safety Rhaheim Ledbetter - He is going to be a ball player. Not necessarily the most jacked guy, but he plays like a beast. All year on the scout team he was making plays all over the field and is great on special teams scout teams in practice. I think he'll push for some playing time at safety this year. He's going to be in the mix.
Safety Marcus Maye - He's made some plays in practice, but it's taken him a long time to come back from a knee injury. Man though, he looks the part. He looks every bit of an NFL safety right now. He goes hard in the weight room. If he has a good spring, and is completely healthy, I think he could be one of the starters at safety.
Defensive end Alex McCalister - Played on scout defense this year and won player of the week a few times. He's been gaining weight. I think their goal weight for him is 260 pounds right now. He is a nice kid.
Quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg - He is a really nice kid. There are only so many quarterback reps to go around, so I haven't really got to see him play that much. In practice, he spent all his time with scout defense. He has great football knowledge, which should help. It will just be a matter of whether he has the physical tools to compete or not. He may, but we really haven't had the opportunity to see them yet because he hasn't gotten the reps. He definitely has the head to be a good quarterback.
Safety Brian Poole - He had a really good bowl camp. He played a good bit in the Sugar Bowl with Pop leaving. He did a great job on special teams all year for us. He plays very physical for a defensive back. He has really strong hands, which is key. He'll play a bunch next year. He's a four-star, immature, recruit that thought he was bad when he came on campus and it took him a while to realize he's a dime a dozen...he's cool now though. (Note: Did not redshirt)
Linebacker Jeremi Powell - I don't think he'll be ready for major field time next year, but he'll play a lot on special teams. He always gives good effort and runs well. I know they are hoping to get up to 225 by next year, but I don't expect him to provide much depth at linebacker yet.
Tight end Kent Taylor - He has really good hands, but he has suspect speed. He doesn't have the athleticism of Jordan Reed. But, he's got good hands and good size and if he can grow a set and go across the middle, he'll have a good career. With Jordan gone, the tight end spot is basically his to lose. (Note: Did not redshirt)
Tight end Colin Thompson - He just got cleared to practice at the very end of bowl camp. He was really excited to finally put some pads on with the team. He's going to be a smart football player. He already has pretty good size for a blocking tight end. He'll block his ass off for us and will be good on the 10 yard routes. He's eager to get on the field. He could challenge Taylor for playing time.
Defensive lineman Quinteze Williams - There something about the way his body looks that reminds me of Carlos Dunlap. He didn't usually give good effort on Scout team defense, but when he did, he could not be stopped. Scout team defense is a hard thing to motivate players to do, because you are basically getting your face smashed in, so I kind of get that. He looks like a normal athlete stretched out at 270. So when he puts some weight on, he'll be an animal. I really think he's going to be a good one.
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.