Wide receivers at camp

A unit of Florida wide receivers, including transfers Van Jefferson (12) and Trevon Grimes (8), rests during Day 1 of fall camp after catching passes from the quarterbacks. 

The Florida Gators will take the field for the first time in full pads today.

Head coach Dan Mullen transitioned the team on Sunday and Monday by holding practice in just helmets and shoulder pads.

However, the rise in intensity hasn’t developed any separation between the two redshirt sophomore quarterbacks -- Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. According to Mullen, they unsurprisingly still have a long way to go in learning the offense.

“To be a big-time quarterback, I don’t think they even think they’d know how hard that is,” he said. “They should understand it by hopefully next summer. I was hoping maybe with just one of them it would really click, but I didn’t see that happen.”

Despite praising Trask on Friday for recognizing a double team and hitting his check-down, the UF coach said there’s no separating the two yet.

The fact that each of these quarterbacks don’t yet have a firm grasp of Mullen’s system affects what kind of leaders they can be. Mullen emphasized that both Franks and Trask try to be leaders by example but aren’t comfortable enough to be vocal leaders.

“I think the vocal leadership can come as they get more confidence in what they’re doing,” he said. “Our guys are trying to figure out the reads and what they’re doing and making sure they look the right way or they’re stepping the right way.”

However, a bright spot for UF’s offense is the addition of wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Van Jefferson, who were ruled eligible by the NCAA last week. Jefferson still has to clear SEC waivers since he transferred from Ole Miss.

“I called my mom and told her the news,” Grimes said on Saturday, “and I actually shed a little tear I was so excited to get on the field and be able to play this season.”

Both receivers said that Florida wasn’t a hard choice. With a new coaching staff, UF gave them the opportunity to join a team where everyone will have the same opportunity to learn Mullen’s system.

Former All-American receiver Percy Harvin visited spring practices, allowing the tandem of transfers to get acquainted with the school’s tradition at the position.

“I think my third, fourth spring practice I talked to Percy one-on-one, and he told me if I keep working hard and stay focused I can be a monster,” Grimes said. “If a great like him can say (that), then I definitely feel like it can be true.”

The additions of Grimes and Jefferson took the Gators from needing depth at receiver to having one of the best collection of players at the position in recent memory.

Florida lost Brandon Powell, the team’s slot man and leader in receptions from 2017, and Antonio Callaway, who was suspended last year but could’ve been the team’s most explosive wide-out. But Jefferson, who started in the slot for Ole Miss for two seasons, and Grimes, who at 6-foot-5 can both stretch the field with speed and bring down jump-balls, fit nicely into UF’s existing framework. And they, Jefferson especially, have been a help to the receivers since they arrived in January.

Junior Tyrie Cleveland, the team’s leading receiver from a season ago and biggest deep threat, even said he’s learned from the Ole Miss transfer.

“I learned a lot from Van,” Cleveland said. Just being able to see him run different routes and how he handles himself on and off the field. I’m just trying to take up all the notes I can from him.”

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Mark Stine is sports editor for the Independent Florida Alligator. He's a senior at UF and has written softball, women's soccer, men's tennis and cross country in the past.