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Hot Reads: Florida's new Nike deal, spring practice start date set, returning depth

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When, in the course of Internet events, a single post about Florida football stands in for what could've been several posts split up, that post shall be called Hot Reads.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida extends Nike deal through 2024

Florida's had a long-standing relationship with Nike, one that dates back to the 20th century. So it makes sense that the Gators signed with the Swoosh again in 2014, as The Alligator's Richard Johnson reports, with Jeremy Foley putting pen to paper in September 2014 that will put the school's team in the's brand apparel until April 2024.

Florida's deal with Nike had been set to expire in 2017, but Foley quietly re-upped with the Oregon-based athletic brand, as was first reported by the Portland Business Journal, and secured a deal worth a total of $33 million in apparel and equipment over the next 10 years, according to the contract obtained by Johnson (PDF).

That average annual value (AAV) of product is $3.3 million — the deal begins with $3.1 million of apparel for the 2014-15 season, with the amount increasing by $100,000 every two years — and is likely significantly less than AAV of deals struck by Adidas and Under Armour to make headway in the college sports market. Under Armour wooed Notre Dame to its still-growing brand with a pact reportedly worth as much as $10 million per year, and Adidas has a massive deal with Michigan worth more than $8 million annually.

But Florida's deal for 2014-15 ranked sixth in the SEC before the additional $1 million delivered by this extension, and the school — somewhat unusually — opts for product over cash payments, so it's also not as if the Gators are paupers here. (Notably, Tennessee and Auburn, schools with Adidas and Under Armour contracts, lead the SEC in compensation from apparel contracts this year.)

Spring practice set to start March 16

With a tweet, Florida announced its spring practices would begin on March 16.

Unlike in the past two seasons, Florida's spring practices will be entirely closed to the public. It's also likely practices will be cramped, given that significant segments of the Sanders Practice Field that the Gators typically use are currently being prepared for the construction of Florida's indoor practice facility.

Florida previously announced its spring game will take place on April 11, and announced this week that its Pro Day for NFL prospects would be held on April 7.

Gators not returning much depth on offense

Florida's defense will return more than half of the starters from its 2014 unit — one that finished 15th in total defense and 19th in scoring defense despite significant early growing pains. But on offense, the Gators have depth issues.

247Sports's Thomas Goldkamp crunched the numbers this week, and found that Florida returns players responsible for less than half of its passing yardage, just more than half of its rushing yardage, and just more than a fifth of its offensive line starts in 2014, among other stats.

Of those numbers, the returning starts for offensive linemen is clearly the biggest worry: Florida's offensive yardage totals, despite being up from the first three years of Will Muschamp's tenure, were still rather poor under Kurt Roper, while experience on the offensive line isn't graded on a curve. The only Gators offensive linemen available this season who have previous starting experience are Trip Thurman and Rod Johnson, and Thurman might move from the left guard position he manned in 2014 to center, while Johnson made his starts largely in relief of Chaz Green.

That lack of depth on the line may also force Florida to have a non-traditional spring game — just eight scholarship linemen appear on the Gators' current roster, though an additional four walk-ons could be available. Fortunately, Jim McElwain's compensation for that lack of depth was a sizable haul on the line in the 2015 recruiting class, including the nation's top offensive tackle, Martez Ivey.

Richerd Desir-Jones has inspiring story

(hands over late pass)

This story on St. Thomas Aquinas product and Florida signee Richerd Desir-Jones, an offensive lineman who has thrived despite being in foster care, may leave your eyes something other than dry.

"I'ma make the Raider Nation proud," he says. "I'ma make the Gator Nation proud."