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.
Running back Mike Gillislee - He is one of the quietest people on the team, but one of the hardest workers. I felt bad that he didn't get more than nine carries in the Sugar Bowl. I think more than anything him not being more involved cost us the game. It sucks he got the shaft for all those years, because he should have been playing. He is not one of those guys you are ever going to read about in the paper for doing dumb stuff. If he can put on 10 pounds and stay healthy, he'll have a good career. He's come a long way from Chris Guido dominating him in Circle drill years ago.
* In regards to Gillislee not starting last year…
Charlie Weis had a man crush on Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. It was a favoritism thing. Before last year, Gillislee might not have been ready. Supposedly he didn't know the pass protections, but I don't believe for one second that Rainey knew them either.
Athlete Omarius Hines - He's the man. It sucks that we never fully utilized him more while he was here. He is a difference maker. He should have been touching the ball eight or nine times a game. I don't know how many times he touched the ball against FSU, but he was a damn good distraction. When he was going across in those motions, it was screwing them up. He's a guy other teams know they always have to account for when he is in the game.
Wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. - One of the leaders on the team. He led by example and he always did the right thing. He was really just a good teammate. He was another coach out there for the wide receivers, helping them get lined up and telling them the routes. I think he'll have an opportunity in the NFL. He's got some good film and he'll be a difference maker on special teams. He could be a 4th receiver on a team and a major special teams contributor.
Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon - He tried to lead. He was always wanting to get people hyped up, but it's hard to be a great leader when your play doesn't back it up. He went hard when he could but he had a lot of injuries to deal with. Hopefully he'll have a good showing at the Senior Bowl. I mean, if Maurice Hurt can start in the NFL, so can Nixon.
Offensive lineman Sam Robey - He was a solid backup. He wasn't necessarily as athletic or as strong as Jonotthon Harrison, but he worked hard and was a smart football player. He knew everyone's assignments. He is a solid #2 backup. I mean, we are at Florida, I'm sure he could have gone almost anywhere else and had a solid career starting. But, this is the very best of the best.
Offensive guard James Wilson - He is the man. If he drops another 15-20 lbs and has a good workout, I think he'll have a chance. He's strong enough to move a mountain. I was so happy he was finally healthy enough to play this year and he did really well. Everyone on the team always enjoyed listening to him sing too.
Defensive tackle Omar Hunter - He was a hard working guy. Not the most talented guy on the D-line, but he was a leader because he tried hard and gave great effort. He has surprisingly good feet for a guy his size. He just had a baby girl, so he has a little extra motivation to train hard for his shot in the NFL.
Defensive end Lerentee McCray - This coaching staff was the best thing that ever happened to him. In our old 4-3, I feel like he wouldn't have even had a real position. When this coaching staff came and brought the 3-4, it was life changing for him. He was one of our best defensive players this year. I think he'll have a good NFL career. He is as strong as you can get, plays with relentless effort and is very fast. He's a ball player.
Defensive end Earl Okine - Finally coming into his own. One of the top four players that benefitted from the coaching staff change his staff was life changing for him too. Coach Quinn taught him a lot of technique stuff he didn't know before and because of that, he's going to have the opportunity to go to a camp. He's a good player. He had some back issues this year, but played despite it.
Linebacker Jon Bostic - He is a natural football player and his football intelligence separates him from the pack. He sees things out there before they happen, he helps people line up, he makes adjustments and he makes plays. He more than passes the eye test. He looks like the Under Armor guy. He's completely jacked. He'll do great in all the interviews too because he is a football smart guy. He'll kill it at the combine. Great player.
Safety Josh Evans - He was always a nice guy. Lead by example type. He let his play do his talking. He struggled coming back from his knee injury a couple years ago, but he has been great since then. He made huge strides from last year to this year. Another guy that really benefited from the coaching staff change. Had a great year. He's being told he could be drafted in the 3rd to 5th round depending on how he runs at the combine. I think he could play special teams in the NFL right now and eventually grow into a starting safety.
Kicker Caleb Sturgis - He is a guy that no matter what, he's going to come out on top because he got his Masters while he was here. He was one of the guys that used football and didn't let football use him. He took advantage of all the resources available to us. He is way more athletic than the average kicker. He is the best kicker in college football this year. There is no reason he shouldn't have a long career, but the NFL is funny like that because there are only 32 jobs in the world that he is fighting for. A quarterback has a better chance of making it in the NFL (teams keep three) than a kicker does. I hope he makes it because he is a great, smart guy.
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.
Monday: The early entry juniors
Tuesday: The graduating seniors
Wednesday: The transfers
Thursday: The redshirted freshmen