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December 31, 2012
Under Armour Notebook: Gators standout
Orlando, Fla. - The first day of practice for the Under Armour All-American game at ESPN's Wide World of Sports is in the books. There are six Florida commits participating in the week's activities, five of which are on the Team Highlight (the Black Team), while linebacker Matt Rolin is the only player on Team Nitro (the White team).
Here's a looks at how the commits performed.
Several Gator Commits Standout
Florida commitments had very good performances on both sides of the ball. Most notable on the defensive side was Rivals100 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. The five-star defensive back continued to prove why he is considered to be one of the elite corners in the nation, showing off his athletic ability and high football IQ. In passing drills Hargreaves seemed to always be a step ahead of the receivers he faced; he knew exactly what they were going to do and never let anyone get past him. He also intercepted a pass from Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg while covering future Florida receiver Alvin Bailey during Team Highlights scrimmage at the end of practice.
Speaking of Bailey, he also had great day of practice on the offensive side of the ball. He used his speed to create separation from defenders during many passing drills and made several athletic catches. There were also a few plays in which the 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver was able to get free at the line of scrimmage and get open, but was not targeted.
Bailey and Hargreaves went head-to-head on a few plays during the Black Team's scrimmage. Both have mutual respect for each other's abilities.
"I've covered him [Bailey] before. It was pretty much the same. He's a hard dude to cover," said Hargreaves of his future teammate.
Bailey added he enjoys the challenge going up against one of the best corners in the nation.
"I definitely like going up against Vernon because that's giving Florida fans a taste of what's gonna go down when we get to Florida. We want to go at it everyday, but that's my brother and we know that it's only gonna make us better."
Commits Also Hard at Work on the Recruiting Side
A few Florida targets are also in Orlando for the Under Armour festivities including defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel as well as Alabama defensive end commit Demarcus Walker, all of whom will be taking official visits to UF in the days immediately following the All-American game on Friday. Florida State offensive lineman commit Ira Denson is also rumored to have interest in the Gators, but does not yet have an offer.
Bailey says he and several other Florida commits have been trying to convince the aforementioned players, and others, to choose UF.
"Me, Kelvin [Taylor], and Vernon [Heargreaves III] we've been on (Georgia cornerback commit) Shaquille Wiggins a lot this week, we've been on Ira Denson a lot. We're definitely gonna try to get them to come to Florida. We're definitely gonna be on [Montravious] Adams a lot this week too. It's definitely gonna be a big recruiting week for the Gators."
This and That
Gator commit Kelvin Taylor also had a decent practice. He broke off a long run along the outside during the Team Highlight scrimmage. He has a high motor and ran hard and fast all day; coaches told him to be a little more patient when looking for running alleys in the defensive line. The running-back also had the responsibility of helping block the nation's top recruit Robert Nkemdiche, who looked like a man among boys on the field.
While Rivals100 safety Keanu Neal didn't exactly "stand out" on the first day of practice, but he did have a solid performance. He looked a little stiff during position drills, but that can be expected because of his large size compared to the other defensive backs. Hargreaves said he was impressed with Neal's abilities, comparing him to Five-star safety Leon McQuay III.
"He can cover, same as Leon," said Hargreaves. "I haven't played with Keanu before hopefully throughout the week I'll get more used to him."
Hargreaves also spoke later in the day about his official visit to Florida in early December.
"It was great. After that visit I knew exactly why I committed and I just had fun with everybody. Most of the coaches didn't even talk to me about football. They just talked to me about life and that was really cool."
Defensive lineman Caleb Brantley showed some frustration and struggled a little bit during position drills. He was also yelled at for not running back to the sideline during a scrimmage. However, the defensive tackle was able to bust through the line on one play and record a sack.
Safety Marcell Harris and linebacker Matt Rolin were at practice and but did not participate and will not play in the game because of leg injuries they both suffered earlier in the year.