For the first time since 2010 Florida held a spring practice session that was open to both the media and the public. Here is a quick overview of what took place on Friday afternoon at the Sanders Practice Fields as you wait for our more in-depth reports and photo feature.
QUICK OVERVIEW: For the first time since 2010, Florida opened up a spring football practice session to the public on Friday afternoon. Under a blistering March sun, the Gators went through largely basic drills in helmets, jerseys and shorts. It was an opportunity at a first peak in regard to the spring's ongoing quarterback battle between Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel and adjustments on both sides of the ball. It also showcased the playing time some new-arrivals are getting on as early enrollees like wide receiver Latroy Pittman and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries saw a significant amount of reps.
THUMBS UP: Up until now, it has been a waiting game of when the production of the secondary would match up to the talent it possesses. While a football practice in shorts isn't always the best judge of things, Florida's secondary looked on point on Friday. Cornerback Jaylen Watkins was much improved, doing a solid job while often being paired against wide receiver Quinton Dunbar in drills. Redshirt freshman Valdez Showers shook off rumors that he would be better-suited at running back and had the play of a day with a late interception off of Brissett.
THUMBS DOWN: It was a tough day at times for a couple of new guys on campus. Cornerback Willie Bailey caught flack much of the day from coaches after dropping two balls during route drills and getting out of position a couple times later in the day. Junior college transfer defensive tackle Damien Jacobs looked very rough jumping early a few times during one-on-one drills and then getting manhandled by older offensive guards like James Wilson, Jon Halapio and Kyle Koehne. However, it was a redshirt senior who caught the worst tongue lashing of the day. After getting pushed around on a few plays in 11-on-11 drills, head coach Will Muschamp yelled at defensive end Earl Okine, calling him "a waste of a scholarship."
FIVE WHO STOOD OUT: With so much going on it is impossible for one person to see everything that is happening. With that being said, here are five players who stood out from the crowd.
Jaylen Watkins - Not only did he lock down Dunbar on some early routes, but he had the first big interception of the day while playing on the far-side of the practice fields. Much like Showers' pick, it came off Brissett.
Omarius Hines - We all knew that the redshirt senior would be getting a look at running back this spring. However, he also provided the offensive spark of the day as a receiver when he out-ran the defense on a deep fly route and caught a touchdown pass from Brissett.
Ronald Powell - Chalk it up as more success in a mostly useless setting, but Powell was in his zone during Friday's practice. Time and time again, he ran right around tackles who looked unprepared to stop them. It was Powell who tainted an otherwise impressive day for Humphries when he beat him badly in one-on-ones.
Jeff Driskel - While Brissett seemed to dominate the high and low moments of the day, Driskel was steady, throwing a great ball and appearing composed in the pocket. Unfortunately for him, many of his plays in 11-on-11 were plagued by receivers not getting open (much like last season), leading to lots of check-down throws.
Sharrif Floyd - The junior remains the absolute class of the defensive line. While other linemen had their ups and downs, it was Floyd who consistently shined in one-on-ones and made things uncomfortable for the offense in the more game-like situations.
THIS & THAT: Although the practice started around 4 p.m., junior offensive tackle Matt Patchan did not arrive until around 5:50 p.m. because of class. ... Early enrollee wide receiver Latroy Pittman appears to be getting a crash course in the UF offense as he was put into the drills with nearly every level of the depth chart. ... Marcus Roberson and Tommy Jordan both participated in drills despite technically being out for the spring. Roberson was wearing a non-contact jersey. ... Defensive tackle Dominique Easley was dressed but did not participate.
Tune back into Inside the Gators later this evening for more updates and a photo gallery from today's open practice.