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Three things to watch in Florida's spring practice

Jim McElwain enters his third spring as Florida's head coach with two SEC East championships attached to his name. He also enters the spring with a plenty of questions on both sides of the ball.

The defense has to be rebuilt, while -- you guessed it -- the quarterback position is once again up in the air.

However, there is optimism about this offense with the talent coming back at receiver, running back and along the offensive line. And that defense should still have bite, even if it comes from a younger, less experienced group.

1. A little thing called the quarterback. Yes, it's way too obvious to talk about the quarterback position. This spring, McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will try to mold three freshmen to fit their offensive plans, which are expected to expand some. You have redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks, a former ESPN 300 member, and Kyle Trask, who has been a career backup. Florida also signed early enrollee athlete Kadarius Toney, who will begin his Gators career at quarterback.

Former starter Luke Del Rio is back, but he won't go through spring because of shoulder surgery. So it's up to these three to rejuvenate a position that hasn't been very good since Tim Tebow was there in 2009. Franks is the early favorite, with that rocket arm, but his accuracy and decision-making need a lot of work. Trask has a lot of upside, but he's a total project. And Toney is a complete unknown and really doesn't fit McElwain's offensive mode, but the Gators are planning to have their quarterback -- or quarterbacks -- run more in 2017.

These real, quality reps are so important, and they begin what many hope is a new era at the position in Gainesville.

2. Who will stand out at linebacker? Possible early-round draft picks Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone are gone. Fellow starter Daniel McMillian has graduated. That leaves a host of underclassmen with the task of filling out the back end of Florida's front seven. For a defense that has prided itself on exceptional front-seven play for ages, this will be quite the challenge.

David Reese, who filled in for Davis at times last year but will miss the spring after undergoing wrist surgery, Vosean Joseph, Kylan Johnson, Jeremiah Moon and Rayshad Jackson are all the major players at linebacker. However, they are redshirt sophomores or younger. If you include senior walk-on Cristian Garcia, the Gators return 12 combined starts at linebacker. Injuries forced Reese, Joseph and Johnson to receive extensive work last year, which should pay off immensely this fall.

With Reese out this spring, only five healthy scholarship linebackers will be available, as former tight end Camrin Knight has moved to linebacker. A huge positive is Tim Skipper's move from coaching running backs to linebacker, where he played in college.

3. Can the secondary recreate its no fly zone? Losing first-round draft prospects in Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson at corner is nothing to scoff at. Losing another early-round prospect in safety Marcus Maye just complicates things further.

The good news is that there is good experience coming back, but will it continue Florida's assault on passing games? Versatile Duke Dawson is exceptional at nickel, but will now get more time outside. Sophomore Chauncey Gardner, who is a talented nickel and safety, is also moving outside this spring. How good either will be in the boundary is still ... up in the air.

Seniors Marcell Harris, who started eight games and led Florida with 73 tackles last year, and Nick Washington return at safety, while Joseph Putu, Chris Williamson and McArthur Burnett will compete for time at corner.

This unit will also have new leadership, after Corey Bell replaced Torrian Gray as the defensive backs coach. It's hard to tell what this group will really look like after spring, but it'll get a major jolt with the arrival of six freshmen this summer -- most of which will have a shot at playing time this fall.