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Video: Jim McElwain gives press conference before Florida begins 2015 fall practice

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Technically, this is Preseason Media Day, so we should hear from Doug Nussmeier and Geoff Collins as well. Quotes below as they come.

Takeaways and Quotes

Jim McElwain

  • Tight end Jake McGee is "full go" for fall camp.
  • Middle linebacker Antonio Morrison will participate in practices, but is being held out of "all contact." McElwain clarified that he had "two surgeries on the same knee" after his injury sustained in the Birmingham Bowl, and would not put a timetable on his return; instead, he reiterated he would not put a player on the field before he is ready.
  • Florida's green and lean offensive line seems to be taking shape, sort of. Senior Trip Thurman, the only player on the line who has made a start in an FBS game before, will be cross-training at multiple positions along the line. Cameron Dillard is currently the team's No. 1 center. Fordham transfer Mason Halter will work at tackle, so that Florida won't "overload" him. Highly-touted freshman Martez Ivey will begin his career at tackle, too, but McElwain's goal is getting the five best players on the field in that unit; some players may have to "swing" between positions to accomplish that, but the hope is to develop a core of "eight solid guys."
  • Florida tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Greg Nord's mother passed away over the weekend, and Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins's father passed away on Monday. Collins is not in Gainesville, and so co-defensive coordinator Randy Shannon will meet with the media in his stead.
  • McElwain hammered a point about players and coaches having "15 opportunities" to get better this fall; when pressed on it, he confirmed that he meant games — Florida would play 15 games by participating in the SEC Championship Game and two College Football Playoff games — and razzed reporters who failed to grasp that initially, even stepping away from the podium to cast an imaginary fishing line at one of them. (If my ears didn't fail me: You can probably guess who got reeled in.)
  • McElwain says Florida's ballyhooed quarterback competition is still a competition, refused to name a starter ("As soon as we know, we'll let you know"), and initially responded to a question asking for the specific strengths of Will Grier and Treon Harris by saying he liked how both competed. Pressed, McElwain noted Harris's composure and Grier's growing ability to find players in "the right-colored jersey," but McElwain has been hinting at turnover problems since the spring, and hasn't overseen any practices since, so, uh, that's not new.
  • McElwain remains very high on Vernon Hargreaves III, calling him "arguably ... the best defensive player, and obviously the best defensive back, in the country," and praising his work ethic in practice as a tone-setter for the program. But he also added that Hargreaves could see work on special teams as a punt and/or kick returner, and reasoned that it would be helpful because it "expands his brand." McElwain's fascination with the word "brand," as empty and coldly corporate as anything in the English language, will rankle me forever.