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With five returning starters this season, Florida has leadership to spare. But coach Billy Donovan is trying to test it now.
He’s been creating adversity in practice to see how his players will handle it. It’s easy enough to be a leader in the summer. It’s considerably more difficult to do so in late November with games underway.
Among the players Donovan is testing is redshirt senior Vernon Macklin, a player who hasn’t had to take on that role before.
“I don’t think Vernon has responded like I would like to see him respond,” Donovan said. “Now he’s done a great job up to this point and he’s played well and he’s worked hard, but he himself is going to be able to handle and be a calming force in a lot of ways for our team. There’s no doubt in my mind that I think he can do that.”
Donovan said part of that comes from Macklin’s journey to this point. A highly touted recruit out of Hargrave Military Academy, Macklin spent two years at Georgetown before transferring to Florida. After sitting out a year, he’s only had one season to find his place here.
With the start of the regular season just more than a week away, Donovan is confident Macklin will get to that point. But without the live action of games to test his center, Donovan will have to do it himself.
“It’s a huge adjustment cause Coach D, he puts you on a high level,” Macklin said. “He wants you to be the type of leader like those great guys was in 06 and 07. I’ve never been in that position before, so I’m working to get there.”