It has taken nearly six years, but James Wilson is poised to finally make it through his first healthy spring.
Wilson, a redshirt senior offensive lineman, is the last remaining member of Urban Meyer’s national championship squad in 2008 and was granted a sixth season of eligibility in January due to a medical hardship.
The main culprit keeping the 6-foot-4, 327-pound guard off the field has been a pair of broken feet his sophomore year and the four surgeries needed to repair his injured left knee. While he missed all of last spring recovering from a surgery, Wilson said he is ready to play at 1 p.m. Saturday during Florida’s spring game.
“I went to coach Muschamp and told him, ‘Hey coach, I made it through my first spring,’” Wilson said. “He was all happy. It was kind of a big deal, but I just got to keep trucking. I got to make it through my first camp now.”
After working his way back into the Gators’ line rotation, Wilson earned his lone start of last season in Florida’s bowl victory against Ohio State. He said he found out the NCAA was allowing him to come back in the spring during the game.
“It’s good to see him back out there,” offensive lineman Chaz Green said. “He’s capitalized on it. It’s his last year, make the best of it.”
A healthy Wilson heading into next season would mean added depth to an offensive line group that struggled last year. With another year under their belt, Wilson said the linemen have begun to communicate better and are growing more comfortable working together this spring.
“Marked improvement up front from a year ago at this time, or at any time last year,” coach Will Muschamp said. “You see some guys, and you go back and look at it and those guys have been playing together for a year. ”
Floyd adjusting: In his first extended action at defensive end, Sharrif Floyd has had a hard time adjusting to life on the outside.
Floyd, a junior, is working primarily off the edge instead of his natural defensive tackle position this spring due to injuries to Dominique Easley and Earl Okine.
“I started spring as a D-end and just really wasn’t comfortable with it, because it’s the first time I ever played it like constantly rep after rep,” Floyd said. “The spring before that, the offseason before that, I was at defensive tackle so it was just a different transition.”
Though the move to end hasn’t always gone smoothly, Floyd said he is enjoying his best spring of his career and has improved his pass-rush skills. However, once the fall season starts, he’s looking forward to resuming his old duties in the interior.
“We’re still low on numbers right now, so it’s still about what we have and what we need,” Floyd said. “So right now I’m a D-end but ideally, getting ready for the season, it should be inside for good.”
Special teams: After splitting time with departed senior David Lerner last season, Kyle Christy has created some separation for Florida’s starting punting job.
Muschamp said Christy had his best day at Florida last Wednesday punting the ball. Christy, a sophomore, started the final seven games last season and averaged 40.9 yards on 30 punts.
“He’s got the leg, he’s got the tools, he’s got the talent,” Muschamp said.
“It’s a matter of doing it all the time and David was much more consistent in camp last fall in August going into the season. But, as Kyle continued to improve that consistency, that’s what enabled him to get the job.”
Muschamp also had rave reviews for redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who was a 2011 finalist for the Lou Groza award. Muschamp said Sturgis has kicked “extremely well” and was last Saturday’s special teams player of the day.
Contact John Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org.