. Spring practice
Practice begins today with 15 practices over 3 1/2 weeks. The spring game is at 1 p.m. April 10 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville. Admission is free.
WILL HE OR WON'T HE? The big question is whether coach Urban Meyer will be present today. On Dec. 26, Meyer resigned for health and family reasons, then rescinded the resignation the following day and took an "indefinite leave of absence." After several weeks off in January, Meyer saidhe would be back for spring practice. He reiterated that this past weekend, but there has been no official word from UF athletic officials.
THE SHADOW LOOMS: Ocala native John Brantley is the presumed starting quarterback, having waited in Tim Tebow's shadow for two years. But Brantley's reign will begin with Tebow still in the Gainesville spotlight. Florida is hosting its Pro Day today, and media from around the nation are expected to attend to see Tebow's new throwing motion, which he has worked on at a facility in Nashville. That aside, Brantley is looking forward to stepping into the starting role.
"It feels very good," he said. "It's been a long time waiting, but I think I'm finally ready and I'm excited to get out there. I get to drive the ship now a little bit, become more of a leader now. That's what I'm striving for this offseason, becoming more of a leader."
NO QUESTION NOW: After three seasons of hearing reporters and sometimes teammates ask, "Are you Mike or Maurkice?" senior OL Mike Pouncey will anchor the offensive line without his twin. Maurkice turned pro after his junior season. Mike has been named a captain, and expects to take his brother's position at center.
A NEW ROLE: Senior DL Justin Trattou has been named a captain and knows he has a big role to fill with the loss of so many defensive starters. He said the perceived lack of expectations has motivated the Gators. "Last year we came in as top dogs," he said. "This year it's 'the Gators are going to have a rebuilding year,' and it's not. We have a good group of guys. We're excited."
TRAVELING TWO PATHS: Junior starting RB Jeff Demps will miss spring drills. Demps is on the team that won the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championship last weekend. He became the first Gator to win the NCAA 60-meter dash, in 6.57. Demps will weight train with the football team.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
In a change from retired Bobby Bowden, new coach Jimbo Fisher was hands-on throughout FSU's two-hour first spring practice Tuesday, with QB Christian Ponder putting on a helmet for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in November. "I know what Coach Bowden did and he did it well," Fisher said. "I just hope we can do what we do as well as he did what he did." Asked how it felt without Bowden at practice, Ponder told the Orlando Sentinel, "We didn't have time to think about it."