FALL FOOTBALL PRACTICE: Monday's Ten Gator practice tidbits | Drayton discusses younger backs | Monday Notebook: Jenkins leading in the middle? | Green breaks down defensive line | Football first for speedy Demps | Gillislee: Are the lights coming on? | Pain free Brown guns for starting spot | Loeffler talks UF quarterbacks | Scrimmage news and notes | Offensive line shuffling around, building depth | Alli emerging as a play maker | Brantley sports old school look | Elam: Lean & Mean | Player hospitalized | Meyer Friday Q&A | Antwine anxious for healthy finale | Dozens of more updates...
As the season inches closer, a number of Gators young and old are fighting for time on the field. One Gator who is number one on the depth chart, but is not necessarily eager to see the field.
A team player through and through, senior Chas Henry is fine just watching the game.
"Being a punter, especially on this team, you get to sit back and watch the game play out," Henry said.
On January 1, Henry was primarily a spectator in the 51-24 rout of Cincinnati that let many Florida players end their season on a statistical high note. He's not one to complain.
"On this team, as great as it is, I may only get to punt one time a game and that's great because it means we're running up and down the field on teams," Henry said.
When he is needed, Henry's impact is felt.
"That guy, he's a weapon," special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin said. "He can put that ball up there, and most importantly give us the hang time we need to get down the field and make a play."
In 2009 the Ray Guy Award finalist allowed only five punts to be returned, the fewest in the nation. Of Henry's 34 punts last year, 15 landed inside the opponents 20-yard-line.
Stats like those place Henry in the discussion for best punter in the country. Henry believes he knows the answer to a more important question.
"I don't know who the greatest punter is in college football right now, but I know I have the best punt team," Henry said. "I have the best gunners and the best coaches. If it wasn't for each individual aspect of that punt team, there wouldn't be a great punter. You can't give up 500 return yards each year and be considered a great punter."
Henry benefits from playing under a head coach who has always put emphasis on special teams and team speed. He shares credit for the lack of punts returned against Florida.
"The guys who are fast return men are fast on coverage too," Henry said. "Our guys are so quick to get down there, it gives us an edge."
For three years, the only player to receive more attention on special teams was return man Brandon James. Any player with five career touchdown returns will be missed, but with Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Janoris Jenkins all looking to contribute to the return game, a loss in speed is not a concern.
"Each year it seems like we're getting faster and faster," Henry said. "I'm looking forward to seeing who's going to step up this year and be the outside guy."
The new "outside guy" will be playing with a teammate well versed in putting the ball in the air.
As a senior in high school, Henry threw for 1700 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"He still throws everyday in practice," Durkin said.
Henry and Durkin both play down any notion this is practice for a fake punt. An emergency third-string quarterback in the past, Henry enjoys working out the special teams unit.
"I enjoy throwing with Coach Heater and the DBs," Henry said. "Any way I can contribute."
Much like his punts, expect Henry's impact at Florida to hang around for a long time.