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Collins: UF a 'tough football team'

DAVIE, Fla. -- Mo Collins was a three-year starter at the University of Florida under head coach Steve Spurrier. The offensive tackle played in a pair of national title contests, winning one against Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl to earn the Gators their first national title.

Former Gator great, Mo Collins, says Florida now has a 'tough football team.'

Collins was then selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders - the twenty-third overall draft pick - where he enjoyed a six year career.

The former Gators star is well versed on what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the college football world. caught up with Collins at the NFL Prep 100 Miami camp, where he was working with the offensive linemen to get his thoughts on third-year head coach Will Muschamp and the direction he has Florida pointing.

“I like it, I mean, now we have a tough football team,” Collins said. “It took a year or so to get rid of some of those Urban [Meyer] leftovers, but I like the direction coach Muschamp is going down. He brought in some high quality guys.”

Like many in Gator Nation, Collins would like to see improvements on the offensive side of the ball this coming season.

“I’d like to see our offense score a little more, but with the development of [Jeff] Driskel hopefully this offseason, we can put some more points on the board. I like the way we are going.”

Florida’s offensive line play took a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 under Muschamp. Collins saw the improvement from the group, but he still saw some deficiencies this past season.

“It was obvious when we wanted to run the ball, we could run the ball,” Collins said of the offensive line. “We took over the running game.

“We need to work on our pass protection a little more, but I think the young guns coming up -- there are a lot of exciting players I can’t wait to see, personally -- I’m positive coming into this year things are going to change and get better.”

One of those ‘young guns’ happens to be a former pupil of Collins: D.J. Humphries. As a true freshmen this past season, the former five-star offensive tackle recruit played in all thirteen games for the Gators, starting three of them.

“He was excited, he got to play, he has the reps and I think they are developing him, brought him along slow,” Collins said of Humphries. “I think he was patient, he wasn’t frustrated. I think he’s supposed to become the next man now.

“He’s going to have to continue to work hard, but he has a bright future and that’s one of the guys, like I said, I’m very anxious to see get the full-time starting reps.”

Part of the turnaround on the offensive line this past season could be credited to new offensive line coach Tim Davis, who joined the Gators staff following the 2011 season. Collins says the players are buying into Davis and sees this spring as a possible launching point for the whole team.

“I think he’s doing good,” Collins said of Davis. “I’ve talked to a few of the players and they like him and love him and that’s the key. When you got a coach that the guys want to play for, they will lay it on the line.

“I think spring ball is going to be the catalyst for us. I think if we have a strong spring, we’ll be ready to roll this season and dominate.”

Muschamp has certainly earned the reputation of a fiery competitor on the sidelines. Collins feels it's only a matter of time until his teams fall in line with Muschamp’s personality.

“The more the kids hang around coach Muschamp, the more his mentality and attitude is going to rub off on them,” Collins explained. “I think we can get back to being a very dominant team day in and day out.”

Florida opens spring practice March 13 and will host the Orange and Blue Debut April 6. The Gators open the regular season August 31 against Toledo.

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