Notebook: Gators OT Fred Johnson looking to show growth in spring

GAINESVILLE — Fred Johnson towers over most of his offensive line teammates.

Florida offensive lineman Fred Johnson (74) stands on the field during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Florida offensive lineman Fred Johnson (74) stands on the field during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Royal Palm Beach alum is listed at 6-foot-6 weighing in at 315 pounds. But if you take a look at him during Florida’s spring practices, Johnson seems to be a lot bigger than what he’s listed at.

Even fellow offensive lineman David Sharpe — who’s also listed at 6-foot-6 — agrees that Johnson is bigger than most.

“He’s towers over me a little bit,” Sharpe said. “I have to tighten him up a couple of times because he’s bigger than me.”

Johnson used his size to have a successful freshman season for the Gators. The West Palm Beach native started eight games, while making his first career start in UF’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt. He would go on to make his second start of the season in Florida’s 41-7 loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Now in his sophomore season, the hulking lineman is making strides both on and off the field as the first week of spring practice has come to and end.

“He’s taken a big step,” Sharpe said. “He’s learning a lot, working on his game, his technique. I’m just spending a lot more time with him, trying to work on his technique, watching film and working on his hands, his stance and everything.”

Anzalone back on the field: Florida’s linebacking corps was left thin when Alex Anzalone went down with a shoulder injury in the second game of the 2015 season.

According to coach Jim McElwain, Anzalone’s shoulder was being held by “duct tape.” Luckily for McElwain and Anzalone, that duct tape held together and the linebacker is participating in spring practice. Anzalone will be counted on, along with Jarrad Davis to lead the linebackers.

“Alex is doing a lot, man. He’s coming in putting in extra time and taking care of business,” Davis said. “Exactly what we expected him to do and he’s going beyond that point. He’s doing what he needs to do to make sure he gets back with us.

After recording just six tackles in the two games he did play last season, Anzalone will look to stay healthy once the team puts on pads for the second week of practice.

“He’s out there, we communicate, we make plays, no contact stuff yet. But when there is, I know he’ll be ready,” Davis said.

Tight ends looking for leadership: Jake McGee was a huge part of Florida’s offense and locker room.

He was second on the team with 41 receptions last year, while tying for the team lead with four touchdowns.

But he’s gone after graduating and UF is looking to replace his leadership and production.

Junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby will be looking to fill McGee’s void. Goolsby showed his potential last year, catching 17 passes for 227 yards and adding a touchdown.

“I mean, Jake taught us a lot. But it’s still just the offense,” Goolsby said. “Everybody come together, play as a team. As long as we’re out there on one page I feel like we’ll be fine.”

C’yontai Lewis, redshirt sophomore Moral Stephens, who McElwain said has elevated his game, and Camrin Knight will look to help out Goolsby.