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Freshmen look to make early impact

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2008 12:00 am

Last season, Janoris Jenkins struggled to sit through UF football games.

"It was horrible, because seeing Florida's secondary go from almost perfect to worse was hard for me to watch," the UF cornerback said. "I wanted to come to this program to help build a defensive scheme that gets it back up."

Well, now he has his chance. Jenkins is one of seven early enrollees who started practice Wednesday, but right now, he's just another freshman.

While Jenkins, one of four secondary prospects signed, has garnered praise from Coach Urban Meyer for not even missing a class yet, he has some extra studying to do now that practice has started.

"I didn't really know the plays, so I got frustrated a little bit," Jenkins said. "I thought they would give me at least a playbook, but they didn't. I have to put things into my own hands and learn the plays on my own - starting (now)."

But Jenkins better grow up quick, because he'll be thrust into playing time at one of the three areas Meyer called "inadequate" last season. The secondary, along with the running backs and defensive line, all struggled last year. While the fledgling corners are a year older, the majority still can't buy a six-pack of Natural Light.

Jenkins, Will Hill and Dee Finley are all expected to make an impact for the secondary this season. Corner Jeremy Brown may also earn a few snaps and has been praised by Meyer.

Freshman defensive end Earl Okine admitted the seven early enrollees are like deer in headlights. Okine called it a "big culture change" from his days just up 13th Street at Gainesville High.

"The mental stress put on you and the speed is just what rocks people's world when they first get into college football," Meyer said.

But the early enrollees have still showed the skills that made them such a highly ranked class.

Late in the scrimmage Wednesday, receiver Carl Moore - all 6 feet, 3 inches, 220 pounds of him - snatched a pass after it deflected off the shoulder of safety Bryan Thomas. Moore, a five-star prospect regarded as one of the top junior college prospects in America, certainly appears to be one of quarterback Tim Tebow's favorite new targets.

"He chucks it in there," Moore said of Tebow. "Me and Tebow have been working on getting our relationship together. We'll go out there and just throw the ball a little bit like twice a week, so we're good to go."

Moore will have to battle for a top wide receiver spot, but his size gives him an advantage that others at his position don't have. To put Moore's size into comparison, tight end Cornelius Ingram is just one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than him.

"I'm hoping he's just as hard (to bring down) as CI, Riley Cooper and some of those other guys," receivers coach Billy Gonzales said. "Hopefully, he'll be a truckload as well. He's like a sponge. He's got the willingness to learn."

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