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March 22, 2010Spring practice gives some players a chance to impress coaches, change positions or get into better shape.
Florida redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown is just happy to be running around again.
Brown ruptured two discs, and battled joint and nerve damage just as fall two-a-days began last season, causing him to spend his entire second season at UF on the sideline.
"(There were) long nights, couldn't sleep. It was excruciating pain," Brown said. "I almost thought I was done. There were times when that we were talking about that."
Brown declined to comment on what type of medical procedures he had done on his back in the last year, saying only, "We just got it fixed," but he insists he is 100 percent and ready to compete for a starting job.
With the departure of Joe Haden, one of the starting cornerback positions is up for grabs, and the third and fourth cornerbacks from a year ago, Markihe Anderson and Wondy Pierre-Louis, have exhausted their eligibility as well.
Brown, senior Moses Jenkins and freshmen Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins will be battling for playing time in the open spots.
The system will remain the same with one cornerback playing the boundary - short side - and the other playing the field side.
Returning starter Janoris Jenkins will move from field to boundary, leaving his old position open.
"Competing baby, that's why I came to Florida - competing," Brown said.
Brown will be trying to catch the eye of new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who coached cornerbacks with the Arizona Cardinals since 2007.
"He doesn't look like he's missed a beat," Austin said. "I just came in here and I wouldn't have known if somebody wouldn't have told me that he's missed that amount of time."
Brown was highly regarded by the coaching staff before his injury, and often spoken of on the same level as Janoris Jenkins, who has started 25 games in his first two seasons as a Gator.
Now, Brown will be looking to make up for lost time.
"It's been a long journey. It set me back a lot," Brown said. "It was a major set back for me and my career. I'm good now, all ready to go, out here competing for a spot."
With only a few days of spring practice under his belt, Austin certainly isn't ready to crown any front-runners for the second starting job, but he likes what he sees from the third-year player.
"He's doing well, he's been moving, he's been in all the off-season conditioning and hasn't had any setbacks, and so I'm really excited," Austin said. "He's excited and that's the key. He's excited about having an opportunity to play."