The biggest storyline for Florida heading into this spring was its situation at quarterback.
Who would step up between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask? How far have they progressed over the past year? Would either one of them emerge as the favorite to the win the starting job?
With all the hoopla surrounding who the Gators main man will be under center come Sept. 2 against Michigan, many managed to overlook some of the other big narratives surrounding this football team.
But now, with UF’s Spring game in the books and a long offseason ahead, here are two takeaways from Friday night’s contest besides the unending Franks versus Trask banter.
Gators have nothing to worry about at linebacker
Florida’s linebacking corps is undergoing a full makeover in 2017.
Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone – who ranked second and third on the team in tackles this past season – are gone for the NFL Draft. Senior Daniel McMillian won’t be back either, and Tim Skipper is filling in as the group’s new position coach.
While such a strong overhaul at linebacker could be devastating for UF’s defense heading into the fall, several new faces appear primed to step in and excel at a high level, including two players in particular who shined on Friday night.
The first is Vosean Joseph.
The Miami, Florida, native looked poised and well-adjusted to playing with the first-string unit during UF’s Spring game, tying defensive lineman CeCe Jefferson for the most tackles on the Orange team with three. He also showed some capabilities moved back in coverage, pulling down an interception off a deflected pass from Kyle Trask before batting away another Trask attempt later on in the contest.
The other player is Jeremiah Moon.
After a thumb injury kept him off the field for most of last season, Moon returned to action on Friday and did not disappoint.
The rising sophomore registered one of the top defensive plays of the game with a bone-rattling hit to Mark Thompson that sent the running back tumbling out of bounds halfway through the first quarter.
He ultimately recorded five tackles on the night, a tie for the game high, and said afterwards he was simply relieved to be back on a football field for the first time in almost seven months.
“It was a humbling experience because you never know when it can be taken away from you,” Moon said. “I felt good. It was good to be back.”
Florida has something in Kadarius Toney
Franks was the star of the night on Friday with his performance at the quarterback position.
However, Kadarius Toney has potential to be a weapon as well.
The early enrollee didn’t see the field until the 1:25 mark of the third quarter, but when he finally stepped under center and took control of the offense, his versatility as a runner was put on full display.
Toney led the Gators with 74 rushing yards on only five carries and used his speed and elusiveness to evade multiple defenders before hitting wide receiver Tucker Nordman with a nine-yard touchdown strike.
The Eight Mile, Alabama, native definitely has a long way to go in his development as passer, but his ability to evade tacklers and scramble around in the pocket should lead to some opportunities in wildcat packages next season.
“He’s an electrifying player,” Franks said. “He just creates plays. In my opinion, I think he’s a really good quarterback.. He’s just one of those players.”
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Linebacker Jeremiah Moon looks on during Florida's Spring football game on April 7, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.