After shining at cornerback and as a special teams ace in 2012, Florida junior Loucheiz Purifoy will open spring practice as Florida’s No. 1 wide receiver at the Z position.
Coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Purifoy will make the full-time shift for the first seven days of spring practice. The move is expected to help Purifoy develop a greater grasp of UF’s offense, which would allow Pease to use Purifoy in a variety of ways come fall.
“You can’t always just put Loucheiz in and throw a screen or run a reverse with him every time he’s in the game,” Muschamp said. “We need to expand his package if we’re going to continue to move forward with that.”
Purifoy forced a team-leading three fumbles while ranking fourth with 51 tackles in 2012.
At wide receiver, he made one catch for 5 yards and carried the ball once for 8 yards.
“We just need to get him more turns and reps at the position and not get away from what he does best, which is cover,” Muschamp said.
Purifoy’s switch to offense creates an opening for inexperienced cornerbacks Brian Poole and Jeremy Brown to take more practice repetitions, at least for now. Muschamp said Purifoy will eventually return to cornerback.
• Redshirt freshman Rhaheim Ledbetter and redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe will each play fullback for seven days as Muschamp evaluates UF’s options behind sophomore Hunter Joyer. Ledbetter was listed at defensive back in 2012, while Ajagbe played linebacker.
• Redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams will move from the defensive line to right tackle, while redshirt junior transfer Max Garcia will move from tackle to left guard.
• Offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle), Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (ACL), linebacker Matt Rolin (ACL) and offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder) will all miss spring practice.
Green underwent surgery for an injury Muschamp said was “a little more serious than we thought.” Green is expected to return in the fall.
Powell was projected to return during the 2012 season after suffering the tear in UF’s spring game on April 7. In September, Muschamp said Powell would likely redshirt, and in October UF announced that Powell had undergone a “revision” to repair the tear.
• Wide receiver Solomon Patton (broken arm), punter Kyle Christy (shoulder), linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and guard Jon Halapio (knee) will all be limited in spring practice.
Halapio underwent a postseason scope but should return with limited contact on Wednesday, while Ball is getting close to full speed and “should be released full-go Wednesday,” Muschamp said.
• Although the Gators are tasked with replacing seven defensive starters, new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin doesn’t seem to be too worried.
On Tuesday, Durkin said UF’s system and depth should ease the transition. Durkin is making a transition of his own, stepping in for departed defensive coordinator Dan Quinn after three seasons as the Gators’ linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
“It’s exciting for me to have new challenges and some different things to work on,” Durkin said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
• Redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker, a Boynton Beach High grad, was cited last week for unknowingly driving with a suspended license, according to Alachua County court records.
Dunker, an offensive lineman, is also facing potential charges of felony grand theft of a motor vehicle after being arrested on Jan. 17 for driving a scooter that had been reported stolen.
Dunker has been indefinitely suspended from football since the arrest, and Muschamp said on Tuesday that he has not spoken to Dunker.