Loucheiz Purifoy might want to have an IV of both water and Gatorade hooked up to him once spring practice ends. He's about to spend the next few months running his tail off as he prepares to be one of those rare two-way college football players this fall.
Will Muschamp kicked off spring by announcing that he'd be experimenting with Purifoy, who is one of Florida's best overall defenders and the most physical cornerback on the team, at wide receiver for the first seven practices. He made it clear that he needed Purifoy on offense in order to help the Gators out with depth at a position that has gaping holes. But Muschamp has also made it clear that Purifoy could be in the mix for playing time on offense to go along with his defensive and special teams duty.
"He's an athletic freak and he's a guy we want to get the ball, and he's done a good job so far," quarterback Jeff Driskel said of Purifoy. "He's really embraced the challenge and done a good job."
Purifoy won't be the next A.J. Green or Julio Jones at receiver, and chances are that he won't be the next Champ Bailey if he really does play both offense and defense, but he will get every chance to be a difference maker for the Gators.
The plan is to have Purifoy play more corner than anything, but if the Gators can't find consistent players at receiver, Muschamp might have to turn to Purifoy more than expected. Yes, Purifoy is a better corner than receiver, but when it comes to what might help the Gators more this fall, there's a chance he could be more valuable at receiver.
But a lot has to happen in order for this to be true. Florida's receivers have to fall behind in their development and the coaches have to feel comfortable with Purifoy's replacements. One player who could make a possible Purifoy transition easier is incoming freshman Vernon Hargreaves III. Many feel Hargreaves, who was a five-star prospect and the top corner prospect in the 2013 recruiting class, is ready to play at the college level right now.
Obviously, throwing a true freshman out at corner is a little dangerous, but with some vets around him, the Gators won't have to rely on just Hargreaves once he arrives.
In all likelihood, Purifoy will stay a starter at corner, but if Muschamp is serious about playing him for around 60 snaps a game and getting him into the offensive playbook more this summer, there's a real chance Purifoy could be a nice offensive weapon for the Gators because he's extremely physical and can stretch the field.
The thought of a corner taking reps away from receivers has to motivate this relatively unproven group of pass-catchers. Five true freshmen, including ESPN 150 early enrollee Demarcus Robinson, will compete with vets Quinton Dunbar and Andre Debose, and rising sophomores Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades for playing time this fall.
Dunbar is turning heads this spring, but we've heard that before, and Debose is still struggling with consistency. This position is wide open and Purifoy will get another crack at it in 2013. He'll go through a world of pain this summer to get his body in proper shape and if he continues to progress at receiver, the coaches won't hesitate to use him if the Gators really need him.