With 1,052 total pounds of mass, the Florida Gators trio in the middle of its offensive line will be a sight to see this season and offensive line coach John Hevesy feels good about his group with spring training starting just a couple of weeks ago.
“I mean, I feel good. I’m never overly confident about anything. Especially right now, but I feel confident because the guys you’ve got back are guys that have been around, that have worked," Hevesy said on Thursday at his spring football press conference.
"They’re playing for a reason. They’ve worked their tails off to get there, they’re meticulous and they’re constantly on their work. To me with those guys it’s really fine-tuning a lot of things and making sure they understand completely why they’re doing things and to get better at all those things."
Three of those players - Stewart Reese, Ethan White and Josh Braun - will be key assets moving forward. All three linemen are imposing at their size, and are expected to be capable of slowing down the stoutest of defensive lines within the SEC. That much will assist Florida in running the football this year, something that will likely be more of a focal point with quarterback Emory Jones at the helm.
"Interior-wise walking out there if you have Stewart at center, Ethan at guard, and Josh at guard it’s 353, 350, 354 — so pretty big," said Hevesy. "Which I think is part of the whole deal to running the ball and moving those inside guys to run downhill — inside zone, outside zone stuff."
The Gators have a trio of offensive linemen in the middle that can play various positions. Last year, during the team's fall camp, White was slated to play center before an injury forced the team to turn in another direction. This year, it appears the Gators will use Reese, at least to start, at the center position. Hevesy feels as though he needs at least three to four players that can do the job, however.
"Right now to me I look at it as Ethan has played center and not doing much right now and probably the second half of spring we're gonna put him back in, put him back doing it but again I felt comfortable with him going into last season doing so, and see where he is maturity-wise and understanding things but to be honest I don’t think he needs it."
"Stewart is getting a tremendous amount of reps at center right now. Kingsley's getting a tremendous run at center; Richie Leonard's getting them, Griff McDowell’s getting them, Riley Simond's getting them, so to me there's a lot of guys getting those reps to see really go through spring, okay walking out of this, who are the four that I can feel comfortable with going in there."
The Gators have plenty of options to play the center position, and all can potentially slide into the guard position as needed. For now, though, Florida will rely on its big three to handle that portion of the offensive line, something they clearly feel comfortable with moving forward.
"There’s some mass in there to move guys, to learn to be physical all the time. It’s not being nice guys because they’re big guys. It’s using that force and power that you have.”