University of Florida

Florida Gators’ kicking tryout draws 216 students

Florida Gators kicker Austin Hardin is still recovering from a leg injury.
Florida Gators kicker Austin Hardin is still recovering from a leg injury. AP

The Florida Gators are using their bye week as a chance to work on fundamentals and get healthy.

They’re trying to find a potential emergency kicker, too.

With an injury to redshirt freshman kicker Jorge Powell, No. 13 UF held tryouts Wednesday, with 216 students signed up for a chance to earn a walk-on spot.

Former Virginia Tech transfer Brooks Abbott and Jacksonville University kicker Dallas Stubbs — both walk-ons previously at Florida — were among those to try out. The tryout was closed to the media, but UF told the Associated Press the list of candidates included two women.

Gators coach Jim McElwain held a similar audition for student kickers at Colorado State several years ago, saying Wednesday, “As long as they can flip it up there through the uprights, I’m good with it.”

Powell, a Miami Belen Jesuit Prep alum, sustained a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter last Saturday against No. 5 LSU. He was 2 of 3 on field goals in four games.

“I just feel horrible for Jorge,” McElwain said. “He was doing a great job for us.”

Meanwhile, backup kicker Austin Hardin, formerly the team’s incumbent starter, is battling his own injury (hip) and re-earning the confidence of the coaching staff.

Hardin has missed his past three field-goal attempts (3 of 6 this season). McElwain hopes Hardin, a redshirt junior, can play against Georgia, but said Florida must “have plans” with no other kicker on the roster.

▪ Redshirt freshman tight end C’yontai Lewis (hand) is probable for UGA, as are little-used offensive linemen Travaris Dorsey and Kavaris Harkless. Linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder) remains out.

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