Here are our notes and observations from Florida’s Thursday afternoon practice, its second of preseason camp. Players were in helmets only as required by the NCAA in the first two practices of preseason camp and the session was held outside at Florida’s football practice facility. Media members were allowed to watch just one period of the session, which lasted roughly 14 minutes.
Not observed in attendance: All scholarship players were observed in attendance for the second consecutive session. You can read about Florida’s efforts to keep players healthy here.
In attendance in a non-contact jersey: TE Jonathan OdomS Dakota MitchellOL Richard GouraigeK Trey Smack
— Florida held its second practice of preseason camp on Thursday afternoon. The session was held outside and players were in helmets only as required by the NCAA for the first two sessions of preseason camp before the team can transition to shells (helmets and shoulder pads). Media was allowed to observe roughly 14 minutes of the session, which is the expectation for the remainder of fall camp and into the season. The Gators were in skill development groups for the entirety of the observed window, which was the case during the spring as well.
— Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Christopher Thomas was in attendance for Thursday’s session and participated fully in the brief observable window. Thomas was one of three players who was cut from Florida’s roster in June due to issues with his buy-in to head coach Billy Napier’s desired culture. According to a source, Thomas worked to get back in the good graces of Florida’s coaches, who ultimately allowed him to return to the team. Thomas was placed on Florida’s online roster on Thursday morning, although it is unclear if he returns as a member of the team’s scholarship roster or not. The decision to cut Thomas initially was made legal by NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168, which allows a first-year head coach to not invite a scholarship athlete back to the team. The athlete may, however, be given the right to stay at the school on scholarship until they graduate with their degree. The rule, however, does not require the program to place the player back on scholarship should it allow him to return to the team.
— During a drill that focused on high-pointing the ball, Florida’s safeties demonstrated excellent peer accountability. After a rep in which a player did not perform the drill properly, the rest of the unit would call out the mistake and encourage that player to either take another rep or offer constructive criticism on how to improve next time. Senior Trey Dean took several very strong reps throughout the drill and was praised by his teammates and safeties coach Patrick Toney.
— While working on getting off the ball and taking tight angles in pass rush, Florida’s outside linebackers coach Mike Peterson was offering some hands-on instruction to one of his oldest players, fifth-year junior David Reese. Peterson, who starred as a linebacker at Florida in the mid-to-late 90s under head coach Steve Spurrierwas explaining more efficient pass-rush techniques to Reese, who has appeared in just seven games in four seasons as a Gator.
— Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Austin Barber appears to be climbing Florida’s depth chart. With junior starting left tackle Richard Gouraige currently rehabbing a minor lower-body injury, Barber is working out with the first-team offensive line at right tackle while sophomore tackle Michael Tarquin, who is expected to start on the right side when Gouraige is healthy, slid over to the left. Ethan White, Kingsley Eguakun and O’Cyrus Torrence make up the interior of Florida’s first-team offensive line from left to right.
— Florida’s game changer group (special teams) was working out together in the Gators’ indoor practice facility for the entirety of the observation window. It appeared that kicker Trey Smack was in a black non-contact jersey for the second consecutive day, although it was very difficult to tell who the player was nor is it clear if kickers are being asked to wear non-contact jerseys in the same way the team’s quarterbacks are.
— Listed at 6-foot-5 and 415 pounds, sophomore defensive tackle Desmond Watson has been the subject of many fans’ inquiries lately with regard to his physical condition. Watson was observed taking multiple breaks on Thursday, the same way he did Wednesday. Florida defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Sean Spencer said Tuesday that the goal was for Watson to be a more versatile player.
— Florida wide receiver transfer Ricky Pearsall, who joined the program in May from Arizona State, appeared to possibly tweak his ankle at the end of the observation window on Wednesday but was not limited in any way during the observable window on Thursday. Pearsall made several nice catches during a period where receivers ran routes on air with the team’s quarterbacks throwing them passes. At one point, Pearsall received one-on-one instruction from Napier and proceeded to make another solid catch on a throw from the starting quarterback Anthony Richardson.
— Sophomore Kaleb Boateng, who joined the program as a walk-on offensive lineman prior to the 2021 season after two years at Clemson, was observed working out with the defensive linemen, which is easily Florida’s thinnest unit.
— Redshirt freshman safety Dakota Mitchell was observed in a non-contact jersey and was not working out with his unit for the second consecutive day. Instead, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back from Winter Park, Florida, was training with the director of player athletic development Joe Danos in the team’s indoor practice facility. His illness is unknown at this time.
— Florida sophomore tight end Jonathan Odom was observed in a black non-contact jersey on Thursday, although, unlike Mitchell, he was working out with the tight end unit, which is seven players deep. Odom underwent surgery in the spring to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and he missed the vast majority of the team’s spring practices as a result. While it is unclear how long Odom might wear a non-contact jersey, he appears likely to be cleared by the time the season starts in a month.
— Junior offensive tackle Richard Gouraige was observed in a non-contact jersey and was working out with Danos in the indoor facility. He is expected to return at some point this week.