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Bowl practices helping young Gators develop

MIAMI, Fla.-- Bowl practices are an excellent opportunity for the younger members of the program.

“These practices are everything,” Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe said. “It’s like an early spring practice, basically. When we were back up on campus there were a lot of younger guys getting reps and the older guys getting rest they needed from the season, a long season.”

Forsythe knows first hand how important these practices can be. The lineman took advantage of his opportunities during last season's Peach Bowl prep, ultimately earning a spot on the starting line.

“I was rotating a little bit but I came into these practices and got better," explained Forsythe. "We go back to the basics and do a lot of technique stuff the first few days. It just helps getting back to the basics.”

Several other players will hope follow in Forsythe's footsteps this go around.

“I think Ethan White and Michael Tarquin did pretty good there and then the two new guys that came in, they were pretty good for the first two days,' said Forsythe.

The NCAA allows player to play in four games before burning their redshirt - allowing players like Chester Kimbrough, Tyron Hopper and Lloyd Summerall opportunities on the field.

"One of the great things that the new redshirt rule does is for everybody to potentially be able to play in the last game which kind of gives them extra incentive to go," Gators head coach Dan Mullen told reporters on Thursday. "It allows you to put the depth on special teams that you need to get through a game, but also with the week leading up to it, the two weeks leading up to it, you kind of get some developmental practices for young players, it's huge because you're talking about guys that now are transitioning from 'Hey, I was on the scout team, I was getting a look or really a minor role,' but this spring they're guys we're able to count on and be big, major players for us heading into next season and that kind of gives them a jumpstart into that, being able to get back in January to next year's team and start the offseason program. Those guys kind of got back into the flow of playing."

"It means a lot, it's going to help for their future," said safety Donovan Stiner. "Just like all of our bowl game prep, a lot of the younger guys got a lot of reps, so it's just preparing them for their future."

As the Gators square off against Virginia on Monday in the Capital One Orange Bowl, don't be surprised to see a few of Florida's younger players earns one playing time.

In the end, it's all about balance.

"We expect to have a lot of fun but also put in the work and try to find a way to win," said Mullen.