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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Hines: All of the above

By Michael DiRocco
GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Omarius Hines was a wide receiver.

Omarius Hines
Omarius Hines has played all over the field for the Gators. Now, that's the plan.
Then a tight end.

Then a receiver again.

Then he went back to being a tight end.

This past spring, he became a running back.

As No. 23 Florida prepares to open the season Sept. 1 against Bowling Green, Hines has a new role: All of the above.

"Wherever they want me, I'm there," Hines said. "Whatever they need from me to help the team, I'm there."

The 6-foot-2, 223-pound redshirt senior will line up at receiver, running back, tight end and fullback this season. The coaching staff is hoping that moving Hines around will give him a chance to affect the game more than if he were just in one spot, especially because the Gators don't have a proven consistent playmaker on offense.

"I know it's easy to say, 'Well, just figure out one thing that he can do,' " UF coach Will Muschamp said. "Well, that's easy to say. It's harder to do functionally. There's no question he's an explosive guy, and we need to give him some opportunities with the ball in his hand, because he can do some things with it."

Hines has been productive in the limited number of times he has touched the ball in his career. He has caught 41 passes for 559 yards and two touchdowns and run for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He averages 13.4 yards per touch.

How much better would his production have been, however, had he been able to stay at one spot? Had he stayed at receiver, maybe John Brantley would have had a reliable target the past two seasons.

But he didn't make much of an impact last season (just eight touches), because he suffered a hamstring injury during preseason practices and fell behind in learning Charlie Weis' offense. He wasn't able to catch up.

"[Hines] missed an awful lot of camp," Muschamp said. "Put him behind in a system and trying to find a role for him. When you miss a lot of time it's hard."

Hines has been healthy this camp, and Muschamp said he had a 61-yard touchdown run during a recent scrimmage. It came while Hines was at running back. He is finally feeling comfortable at that spot, he said.

"At first it was a little overwhelming, but I've been meeting with [graduate assistant] Andy [Belluomini] and trying to make sure I get everything set, so I can have a great season this year, so we can have a great season this year," Hines said. "It's been a long journey, from playing receiver, going to tight end, and now doing pretty much everything. I love it. I'm enjoying it."