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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Notebook: Pittman making waves; Gillislee cements role

<p>Running back Mike Gillislee carries the ball in last year’s win against UAB on Sept. 10.</p>

Running back Mike Gillislee carries the ball in last year’s win against UAB on Sept. 10.

Latroy Pittman is already making a name for himself in Gainesville.

After just three months on campus, the freshman wide receiver has impressed coach Will Muschamp during Florida’s three weeks of spring practices.

“Latroy Pittman is a guy who is really coming on and doing a nice job,” Muschamp said last week. “He’s still swimming a little bit mentally, which is to be expected, but he’s physical, he mixes it in well, he’s made some plays down the field for us … and I’ve been very pleased with his progress to this point.”

That progress continued into Florida’s weather-shortened scrimmage Saturday, when Muschamp said Pittman earned offensive player of the day honors. Muschamp said Pittman hauled in a deep ball from quarterback Jeff Driskel during the scrimmage despite good coverage by sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.

As one of six early enrollees the Gators brought in at the beginning of the semester, Pittman has earned the most praise from coaches this spring, especially at a position of need for Florida.

Last season, the Gators struggled to establish a downfield passing game, as the team’s wide receivers accounted for 69 of the team’s 182 receptions.

Only Deonte Thompson recorded more than 20 catches, and the unit hauled in just seven touchdowns on the season.

So far this spring, Muschamp has been pleased with the downfield ability and overall skill set the 6-foot, 201-pound Pittman has brought to the offense, saying the freshman is “passing some guys” on the depth chart.

“He understands every-down performance, blocking and doing things you got to do to be successful, and reading coverages and seeing coverages,” Muschamp said.

“He goes out and makes plays.”

Gillislee locked in: Last week Muschamp said running back Mike Gillislee was on pace to shore up the No. 1 spot in Florida’s backfield next season.

Monday morning, the Gators coach said Gillislee has all but locked up the job.

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“Mike has distanced himself to be that guy,” Muschamp said.

Given Gillislee’s history of injuries during his time at Florida, Muschamp cautioned that the Gators need to establish depth behind the senior.

As a result, Gillislee’s touches will be limited during the last week of spring practice, while the likes of Omarius Hines, Mack Brown, Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer see more snaps out of the backfield.

“We need to start creating some separation there because when you get in the season those reps, practice reps become hard for everybody to get,” Muschamp said.

Quarterback update: As Driskel and Jacoby Brissett continue to battle for the starting quarterback role, Muschamp said Monday there still has not been any separation between the two sophomores.

According to Muschamp, both have done a good job of managing the offense in practice, and he doesn’t believe he will name a starter at the end of spring practice.

“We’re going to go into the fall camp,” Muschamp said.

“That, to me, is becoming more and more evident every day that they’re both guys we can win with. Bottom line, that’s good for us.”

Injury report: Wide receivers Stephen Alli (groin), Solomon Patton (groin) and Ja’Juan Story (ankle) were all expected to return to practice Monday after missing much of the last two weeks, Muschamp said.

Contact Tom Green at

Running back Mike Gillislee carries the ball in last year’s win against UAB on Sept. 10.

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