Urban Meyer: Freshman pair 'all good'
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida freshmen Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley were back at practice Thursday, two days after skipping part of a session and setting off speculation they would transfer.
Coach Urban Meyer said Thursday that the highly touted defensive linemen are "all good."
"They're doing great," Meyer said. "Our freshman class is doing great. I keep hearing this and I keep hearing that. Everything's in good shape."
Meyer acknowledged that Powell and Easley missed part of practice Tuesday, but he refused to say why or whether they were excused.
Rumors swirled the last two days about their absence, with talk ranging from the players being upset about getting yelled at during practice to them asking for their release and planning to transfer.
"No. No, no, no, no, no. Never," Meyer said. "The transfer word never came out of their mouths. They're good."
Powell, a defensive end from Moreno Valley, Calif., was considered the nation's top recruit. Easley, a defensive tackle from New York, was another five-star prospect. Together, they helped give Florida what many considered the nation's top class.
Nonetheless, the class hasn't received rave reviews. Meyer expressed concern about his team Monday, in part because none of the freshmen has taken over a starting role during training camp.
Powell and Easley made it clear earlier this month that they planned to play significant snaps this fall. Easley even compared himself, Powell and fellow newcomer Sharrif Floyd to Miami's trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
That confidence seemingly didn't sit well with some of the upperclassmen.
"Everybody has to come in with that attitude," center Mike Pouncey said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, they're freshmen. They just need to shut their mouths and come play. They haven't done nothing on Saturday. Most of the fans don't even know who they are. Until they prove themselves, they need to sit back and let the older guys play."
Also, the fourth-ranked Gators will be without starting left tackle Xavier Nixon and backup Matt Patchan for its opener.
Meyer ruled out both players Thursday, saying he's unsure when they will return. Nixon had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday. Patchan is recovering from a broken right wrist. He had a pin inserted in his wrist, which has been in a cast since early this month.
It's unclear how Florida will shuffle its line to fill the void against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 4. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert moved to the left side earlier this week, and Pouncey switched to right tackle. But Meyer says he expects Pouncey to stay at center.
"First game, I want the ball to hit the quarterback in the hands and not look like the Bad News Bears out there," Meyer said. "I'm not sure what it is right now, but I don't think we're going to move Mike. I hope not."
Meyer said Reed probably will miss the opener.
Nixon and Patchan had been battling for the starting spot. Nixon started the final five games last season at left tackle before spraining an ankle and then hurting his knee. Patchan hasn't been able to stay healthy in three seasons, missing time because of a gunshot wound, a torn pectoral muscle and a knee injury that resulted from an on-campus scooter accident.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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