GAINESVILLE — When Florida begins fall practice this morning, make no mistake about it, there will not be a quarterback controversy. Senior John Brantley is the starter, and the rush is on to find his backup.
"Johnny continues to play well," coach Will Muschamp said. "We need to create some separation after John. Tyler (Murphy), Jeff (Driskel) and Jacoby (Brissett) are all very talented and we feel are certainly very capable players. We need to get some separation and get a direction going there."
Brantley said he's looking forward to seeing how the backup race shapes up.
"I've seen a lot of improvement with that group," he said. "They work hard, just as hard as anyone else on the team. Their spirits and attitudes are really great. They help each other out — we all help each other out, which in the end makes us all better as players and as a team. They're all great quarterbacks. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do here in the next two weeks."
STURGIS READY TO RETURN: After missing the final nine games of the season, senior K Caleb Sturgis is healed and ready to take back his starting job. Sturgis sustained a fractured back just before the Oct. 2 game at Alabama and did not return.
"I think it was a little too much of everything," he said. "Too much weights, too much running, too much kicking all contributed."
As the season progressed, Sturgis' absence became more of an issue. The Gators missed four consecutive field goals in three games without Sturgis — two losses.
"It was hard," he said. "I've never really had to do that (miss games) in my life."
HARDSHIPS APPROVED: Four players have been granted medical hardships by the SEC, effectively giving them four years of eligibility remaining. S Josh Shaw, OL Ian Silberman, WR Quinton Dunbar and RB Mack Brown will be reclassified as redshirt freshmen instead of sophomores. Brown and former Armwood High standout OL Matt Patchan have been cleared by the team's medical staff to begin practice. Patchan, a redshirt junior, missed last season with a hand and wrist injury.
TODAY'S ACTION: Practice begins today with a split squad. Muschamp said he wants to give the younger players a better opportunity to learn and, per NCAA rules, players can practice only one time in the first five days. UF has divided its roster so most of the older players will practice in the morning and the younger ones in the afternoon. Two-a-days as a full squad begin Monday.
Top tackle commits: Tackle D.J. Humphries, ranked No. 1 nationally at his position and No. 3 among all recruits by Rivals.com, orally committed. "I chose Florida because I felt like the coaches would be there the whole time," said the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Mallard High senior out of Charlotte, N.C. "They were just a school that kept it real with me the entire time." He said he will enroll in January. He chose the Gators over Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.