Here are our notes and observations from Florida’s Wednesday afternoon practice, its first 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 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.
— Florida held its first practice of preseason camp on Wednesday afternoon, exactly one month before its season-opening contest at home against reigning Pac-12 champion Utah. 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.
— Florida appeared to come out of its OTAs in exceptionally good standing from a health standpoint with every member of its scholarship roster in attendance and accounted for by Swamp247. Only three players were wearing non-contact jerseys for the session and all three were present and working out in some capacity, though they were almost certainly limited during more active portions of the practice after media had to exit.
— Florida’s freshmen newcomers were in attendance and while all looked solid in the first fall camp at the collegiate level, two youngsters stood out quite plainly: outside linebackers Jack Pyburn other Andrew Savaiinaea. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, Pyburn looked every bit of his height and weight with a muscular frame. The same can be said for the 6-foot-3 Savaiinaea, though he looked perhaps very slightly heavier than his listed 261 pounds.
— The Gators were in skill development groups for the entirety of the observed window, which was the case during the spring as well.
— Florida’s game changer group (special teams) were 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, though 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 was the subject of many fans’ inquiries during the observable window as the team made it clear during the spring that it wanted him to get slightly leaner ahead of the season. While it’s possible Watson was in slightly better shape than he was in the spring, his physique did not appear to be markedly different on Wednesday, something to potentially keep an eye on moving forward. With Florida’s depth along its defensive front very thin, Watson could be relied upon in certain situations as a two-gap player. However, Florida defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Sean Spencer said Tuesday that the goal was for Watson to be a more versatile player.
“He’s really bought into doing what he’s supposed to do off the field to get him himself right to play,” Spencer said. “And it’s just more about conditioning because if you watch the guy he can move at that size. I mean it’s pretty incredible. It’s like it’s a wonder that he can move like that. So he can hold points and do things like that, but what we’re trying to do with Des is just not make him a guy that’s just a two-gap stop guy.
— 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. It did not appear to be very serious, though, as Pearsall returned almost immediately.
— Red shirt freshman safety Dakota Mitchell was observed in a non-contact jersey and was not working out with his unit. Instead, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back from Winter Park, Florida, was training with director of player athletic development Joe Danos in the team’s indoor practice facility. His ailment is unknown at this time.
— Florida sophomore tight end Jonathan Odom was observed in a black non-contact jersey on Wednesday, though, 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. Swamp247 evaluates Austin Barber to be the most likely tackle replacement during Gouraige’s absence and beyond.