SEC: Kedric Johnson

Opening spring camp: Florida

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
2:45
PM ET
Schedule: Florida opens spring practice Wednesday afternoon and concludes on April 7 with the Orange & Blue Debut, presented by Sunniland, at 1 p.m. ET in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In conjunction with Florida Football's Annual Coaches Clinic, practice will open to the public twice -- March 16 and March 17.

What's new: Florida welcomes in new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who left Boise State, as its new offensive coordinator after Charlie Weis left to become the head coach at Kansas. Florida also hired former Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis to replace Frank Verducci, while Jeff Dillman replaces Mickey Marrotti as the Gators' strength and conditioning coach.

On the mend: Florida will be down a few players this spring. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley is out while he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. Cornerback Jeremy Brown is out with a knee injury that kept him out all of the 2011 season. Offensive linemen Ian Silberman, Tommy Jordan, Kyle Koehne and Cole Gilliam, along with linebacker Lerentee McCray and defensive end Kedric Johnson, are all out with shoulder injuries. Cornerback Marcus Roberson (neck) was cleared for non-contact drills. Linebacker Neiron Ball, who was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation after a blood vessel burst in his head before the 2011 season, has been cleared to resume physical activity, but not for practice.

On the move: Redshirt senior Omarius Hines is moving from wide receiver to cross train at running back and tight end. Hines has always been some sort of a hybrid player, recording 41 career receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns and carrying the ball 13 times for 164 rushing yards and two more scores. Nick Alajajian is moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle to provide depth with Easley out.

Questions: The major question on the minds of fans in Gainesville is what will happen at the quarterback spot. Now that John Brantley is gone, Florida will be working with rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy this spring. One of those three will be Florida's starter this fall, and after what people saw last year from Brissett and Driskel, there's a bit of an uneasy feeling in Gainesville. Florida is also looking to replace running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Senior-to-be Mike Gillislee enters the spring No. 1 on the depth chart, with Mack Brown behind him. Gillislee has played some in the past, while Brown has barely seen the field as a running back. Wide receiver and the offense line also have their own issues. Florida returns four starters up front, but this group struggled significantly last season. Keep an eye on early enrollees D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker. Florida has a handful of receivers, but none are proven and none return with more than 16 catches from last season.

Key battle: If Florida's offense wants to take any steps forward, the Gators have to figure out their quarterback situation. Brissett enters spring with the most experience of the trio, but people around Florida believe he and Driskel are pretty even when it comes to physical ability. The difference right now seems to be that Brissett has more of an edge to him and more confidence. And he did pass Driskel on the depth chart last year. Murphy is pretty athletic, but in his two years on campus he has yet to take a collegiate snap, so he is clearly behind the other two. Pease is a quarterbacks coach, so one of his biggest jobs will be improving the play of all three of these players. One needs to step up and separate himself as both a player and a leader heading into summer workouts.

Don't forget about: Safety Matt Elam might be Florida's best defensive player and he's talented enough to put himself in the conversation as one of the top defensive backs in the SEC. In his first year as a starter at strong safety, Elam was second on the team with 78 tackles and was first with 11 tackles for loss. He also had two sacks, broke up seven passes and recorded two interceptions. Elam plays both the run and the deep ball well. He's turning into a true leader of Florida's defense and is primed for a real breakout season in 2012.

Breaking out: Tight end Jordan Reed was supposed to be one of Florida's top offensive weapons last season, but injuries and poor offensive execution hurt him in 2011. Now that he's healthy and he has young quarterbacks lining up, Reed could get a lot of attention this spring. Don't expect these quarterbacks to go deep much, so they'll have to rely on Reed underneath. Gillislee has shown flashes here and there, but has yet to put everything together. One moment he's running over players, the next he's yanked for poor blocking. Now, he enters spring as the guy at running back and with a bulk of the reps coming his way, Gillislee should be able to do a little more this time around.

All eyes on: Pease has a lot to do in such a short amount of time this spring. He'll be adding a few of his own wrinkles to Florida's offense, but don't expect him to change too much of the offensive terminology. Making things easy will be crucial as he attempts to fix Florida's offensive issues, starting with the quarterback position. The good news is that younger players tend to take to coaching a little better than vets. This is a chance for some reinvention on offense for the Gators, but it will start with Pease's coaching. Weis seemed to struggle a lot last season with communicating his messages to Florida's offensive players. Pease can't have that issue this spring. Everything has to clear and concise for Florida's offense.
Green and Gators just haven't gone well together lately.

This year alone, three Florida players -- cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebackers Chris Martin and Kedric Johnson -- had misdemeanor marijuana-related arrests. Jenkins, an All-SEC performer in 2010, was dismissed from the team last week following his second arrest in three months for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

[+] EnlargeJanoris Jenkins
Kim Klement/US PresswireNew Florida coach Will Muschamp dismissed cornerback Janoris Jenkins from the team.
On the same day as Jenkins’ dismissal, it was reported that former Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Former Gator receiver Percy Harvin tested positive for marijuana before the 2009 NFL draft, and tight end Aaron Hernandez admitted before last year’s draft that he failed a drug test during his time at Florida.

So when new coach Will Muschamp met with reporters before he spoke to the Central Florida Gator Club in Orlando on Tuesday night, he was asked if he thought there was a drug problem, specifically marijuana, with players at Florida.

Muschamp said he hasn’t specifically addressed marijuana use with his players, but said there is continuous effort to help them with the decision-making aspects of life outside of football.

“We’re constantly in the mental conditioning stage with our football team of making good choices and decisions,” Muschamp said. “It’s a constant effort. When you’re dealing with young people, that’s every day. It’s not going to change. We could have no incidents for 10 years, but we’re still going to be doing it.

“When you’re dealing with young people, you’re always in that developmental stage of making good choices and decisions.”

Despite the four incidents this spring, Muschamp classified those as isolated situations and doesn’t believe marijuana use is a rampant problem circuiting throughout his entire team.

“We’ve got a good situation going,” he said. “We’ve got some good kids on our football team. Some guys make poor decisions and choices and that shouldn’t reflect on the whole team.”

Though coaches are allowed to administer their own dismissals, Florida has the only drug policy in the SEC that allows an athlete to remain on a team with four failed tests. A fourth failed drug test results in a player missing 50 percent of the season.

Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee dismiss athletes after a third positive test, while Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State dismiss athletes after a fourth.

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer recently told The Gainesville Sun that marijuana use among players was an issue at Florida before he became head coach in 2005.

Four of the 30 arrests during Meyer’s six-year tenure at Florida were for possession of marijuana.

"It was a problem when we got here," Meyer told The Sun. "I thought we put a little bit of a dent in it. But it's still a problem.

"It's an issue at a lot of places. I've talked to a lot of other coaches who told me they were dealing with it as well. But at Gainesville, it's a national story.

"We sought counselors. We did a lot of things. There comes a point when you have to separate the player from the university, and I did that several times."

Meyer said he cut players loose after a third failed test.

Muschamp made a powerful statement when he cut Jenkins loose.

While marijuana use might have been a problem before Jenkins’ dismissal, it doesn’t look like Muschamp will make it much of one anymore.

More marijuana trouble for Gators

April, 25, 2011
4/25/11
12:03
PM ET
Turns out star cornerback Janoris Jenkins isn't the only Florida player in the last few months to get in trouble with police for marijuana possession.

The Palm Beach Post reported over the weekend that sophomore linebacker Kedric Johnson and redshirt freshman defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin were also arrested and charged back in January with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana in separate incidents.

Jenkins was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana early Saturday morning after police said they saw him sitting in his car in a parking lot and smoking what turned out to be a marijuana cigar. Three months earlier, a police officer caught Jenkins rolling a marijuana cigarette in a the bathroom of a Gainesville nightclub, a charge that led to a plea agreement by Jenkins.

It was well-documented that there were more than 30 arrests involving Florida football players under former coach Urban Meyer.

The tally is already up to four under new coach Will Muschamp, and he's only been on the job for four months.

Obviously, it's impossible to change a program's culture in four months, so blaming Muschamp for players getting popped for smoking marijuana a few months after he was hired is unfair.

Anybody who thinks that doesn't go on elsewhere on college campuses, by athletes and non-athletes alike, is in total denial.

That said, marijuana is illegal, and it's only fair to question how much it really means to a player to be a part of a program when he's brazen enough to sit in a parking lot puffing on a blunt after being arrested three months earlier for trying to twist one up in the bathroom of a nightclub.

What's more, Jenkins is the best player on the team and probably the most recognizable.

Anyway, now is when you judge Muschamp, who has a tone-setting decision to make.

There will be some who joke that he's already ahead of Meyer's blistering pace when it comes to players getting in trouble with the law. Again, that's unfair.

But what is fair is monitoring how Muschamp deals with these issues and how serious he is about sending a message that they won't be tolerated now that he's the Head Gator.

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