Meyer likes the look of new WRs

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s search for playmakers outside the hashmarks is no secret. Alabama exposed the Gators’ lack of game-changing receivers in the SEC Championship Game last December. That’s one reason coach Urban Meyer’s top-rated recruiting class included six wideouts, two of whom enrolled at Florida in January. Meyer praised one of the newbie Gators, Solomon Patton, after the first practice of the spring Thursday.

“The guy that looks really good to me is Patton, that little guy who runs really fast,” Meyer said. Patton lined up as a slot receiver and in the backfield, where he took several option pitches from new starting quarterback John Brantley.

Florida also is moving Chris Rainey from running back to receiver. But what Florida really needs, Meyer said, is for redshirt junior wideout Deonte Thompson to command the respect of the defense.

“He’s got to be ‘The Man,’” Meyer said of Thompson, the leading returning receiver (24 catches for 343 yards and four touchdowns in 2009). “He’s got to develop into being the X receiver or the Z, him and Carl Moore… We’ve got some numbers but it’s time Deonte becomes like he was the No. 1 receiver.”

Late in Wednesday’s opening practice, Thompson got a step open on a deep route down the right sideline. Brantley delivered the ball right into Thompson’s hands. Alas, it did not stay long. Thompson didn’t step back into the drill until he had completed 10 pushups, the price that Meyer charges for a dropped pass in practice.