Photo: Devin Moore; Credit: Zach Goodall
The Florida Gators returned to the practice field on Thursday for their second day of fall camp, preparing for Billy Napier's first season in charge as UF's head coach.
You can find AllGators' observations from the media viewing portion of practice below. After focusing on the Gators' offense on day one, today we put our attention on Florida's defense.
Chris Thomas Jr.'s return among several notes for defensive line
As AllGators reported on Thursday morning, defensive lineman Chris Thomas Jr. has rejoined the team and can be found on Florida's roster following his June removal. Thomas was a participant in practice with the team on Thursday afternoon.
UF has yet to confirm if Thomas' scholarship has been renewed or if he has returned to the team as a walk-on. But given the team's need for interior defensive linemen as head coach Billy Napier has made a point of throughout the offseason, bringing Thomas back into the fold can be viewed as a necessary move regardless of his scholarship status, especially considering his experience with the program.
Thomas wasn't the only new face among Florida's defensive linemen in fall camp. Walk-on players Kaleb Boateng and Nicolas Flynn, the latter having joined the program this summer, were also practicing with the unit on Thursday despite their listings as offensive linemen on the team's roster.
Napier has also stressed in the past that the team will depend on its walk-ons for practice reps in order to help the contributing players improve, a large reason why the new head coach has elected to expand the walk-on roster during his first season in charge.
Another freshman defensive back mixing in with the first-team?
It's difficult to tell exactly what Florida's first and second-teams look like in the 15-minute window of practice that is open to media, but if who he was working with in seven-man defensive installation drills is any indication, freshman safety Kamari Wilson could be pushing for some playing time this season.
Wilson was seen in a rotation at safety while the projected first-team linebackers, Ventrell Miller and Amari Burney, and cornerbacks, Jason Marshall Jr., Devin Moore and Tre'Vez Johnson, were on the field in the installation drill AllGators observed. This was only for a couple of reps and the drills did not involve the offense, but Wilson's involvement is certainly noteworthy.
Wilson was Florida's consensus highest-rated signee in the 2022 class, committing to the program during the Early Signing Period over the long-time favorite to land his services, Georgia, among other programs. As a recruit, Wilson was viewed as a ready-to-play prospect at his position.
The Gators' safety depth took a hit during the summer when Mordecai McDaniel was among several cuts from the team's roster, providing Wilson a chance to ascend on the depth chart. He's likely to battle with sophomore safety Donovan McMillon for rotational playing time this year while the duo backs up starters Trey Dean III and Rashad Torrence II.
Below are the players that were seen wearing no-contact jerseys throughout the media viewing portion of practice. An asterisk indicates that the player worked off to the side with a trainer instead of on the field. This list does not include the quarterbacks as they're required to wear no-contact jerseys.
- TE Jonathan Odom
- OT Richard Gouraige*
- DB Dakota Mitchell*
AllGators did not see the specialists on the field on Thursday, making it impossible for us to determine if freshman kicker Trey Smack had shed the no-contact jersey he wore on Wednesday. Therefore, we have removed him from the list.
Clip of the day
We'll first make note that the name of this section has been changed from "play of the day" to "clip of the day," as the media viewing portion of practice doesn't exactly include plays and instead focuses on individual reps.
Moore, as noted above, has worked with the first-team at cornerback to begin camp, a surprise to Florida fans but a move that several sources indicated to AllGators as a possibility in the weeks leading up to fall practices.
The clip below focuses on Moore going through defensive back individual drills, working on his off-man coverage turn technique with cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond instructing his group.
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