Gators OL Coach John Hevesy Sees Growth, Leadership From Stone Forsythe

Demetrius Harvey

As one of the returning starters from week one of last season for the Gators, offensive tackle Stone Forsythe has become one of the most reliable offensive linemen in the program.

That much has been shown due to his leadership traits, and his high football IQ that offensive line coach John Hevesy made sure to remark about when talking about Forsythe on Tuesday. Entering his second season as a full-time starter, perhaps Forsythe will take the next step, becoming the force Florida will need him to be moving forward.

"I think the biggest thing I've seen with Stone is just, [he's a] very intelligent kid on the football field. Very high in football intelligence," Hevesy told the media via Zoom.

Last season, Forsythe stepped onto the field, playing in all 13 games while splitting time at both left and right tackle near season's end. His performances were one of the bright spots on a rebuilding unit that saw struggles throughout the year.

According to Pro Football Focus, the redshirt senior offensive lineman allowed just three sacks on the year. While he wasn't perfect, the improvement from playing behind players such as Martez Ivey and Jawaan Taylor for his first few seasons at the colligiate level, was impresive.

"I think the one thing you've seen is just obviously using his hands, and just playing with quicker and harder hands, and a little harder, quicker feet. And that was the big thing we were going into the offseason working on, and obviously it got cut a little bit."

For all of the Florida football players, their offseason was cut to practically nothing at all. Just when spring football was set to begin, the coronavirus pandemic put everything to a hault, on pause until the league could come up with the proper protocals to safely all athletes to return to campus.

Since he's been with the program for so long, understanding the routine of being an athlete in college came easy. Forsythe already knew what he needed to get done, it just now had to happen at home. 

“With being an older guy I kind of took advantage of that of already knowing, like what to do during the offseason," Forsythe told the media via Zoom last week. "So, even when we're at home during the quarantine time I still kept up my workout schedule and just kept the routine going because I'm a big routine guys so just getting thrown off with that."

The transition to camp has been an adjustmenet, Forsythe says. Having to go from absolutely no real football back to football with only a couple of months until the season actually begins is a shock to the system. But, being a veteran has allowed him to adapt in kind.

"It's just a different year but we have to adjust to it.”

Hevesy feels as though the offensive tackle has adjusted well, able to bring his leadership to the forefront this season going in as one of the starters along a young offensive line. His evolution will be something to keep a close eye on, beginning next week when the Gators officially enter the first week of their season.

"Again, like anything, it can also turnover gameday next week, but to me, I think, he's become a great leader with that group. He's another one, there's not an ego involved I don't think in any of my guys, so he can talk to the young guys, the young guys see him as being a guy, so they'll listen to him and talk to him," said Hevesy.

The Gators enter the year with a mix on the offensive line. While some are seasoned players, siuch as center/guard Brett Heggie and guard Stewart Reese, the team does have young players that need to watch players such as Forsythe intently. Both Ethan White and Richard Gouraige are entering their second seasons playing with the team.

"When they see not only what he does on the field, the way he prepares himself for practice, meetings, everything he does, which is great to have those guys around, especially, you know, with, you add Stone, you add Stew, Brett Heggie's become that guy. Jean's becoming that guy. Really those four upperclassmen have become great leaders for my young guys.

"Now it's the young guys just obviously check your ego in and make sure you're always listening to the older guys because they have the experience.”