Redshirt Report: Brandon Sandifer
Leading up to spring practices, Inside the Gators will take an in-depth look at how last season went for Florida's 2015 signees who redshirted with our Redshirt Report series. Today, we focus on how last season went for offensive guard Brandon Sandifer.
When Sandifer arrived at UF in the summer of 2015, the freshman offensive lineman measured in at 6 feet, 3 inches but weighed an eye-opening 357 pounds.
It was obvious from the get-go that Sandifer, a Warner Robins, Ga., native, needed to spend his first season getting in better shape and polishing plenty of aspects of his game. Ultimately, taking a redshirt helped him progress in both areas.
Northside High School head coach Kevin Kinsler often keeps in touch with his former player and says that Sandifer is currently weighing at about 330-335 pounds after spending this past season improving his physique. During his high school playing days, Sandifer saw much of his action while weighing in the 330-pound range.
“He’s always been a big kid, 330-plus, but he’s starting to shed some of the baby fat, shifting it around. His weight is a whole lot better now,” Kinsler said. “When he played here, he was 330-plus. It would fluctuate. Once we actually got him down to 320, but that didn’t last long. The different is that he’s really wearing it well now. You could just tell he’s just slimmer, but he still weighs the same. He’s been working really hard.
“I think maybe there, they have a little more time with their schedule – maybe a more localized workout where he’s actually working on specific things in the weight room. You could tell it’s starting to make a difference. Just the type of workout he’s doing there at Florida has really helped developed his body like it has.”
At the high school level at right tackle, Sandifer was a man amongst boys, as he would bully edge rushers who weighed significant less than he did.
“Brandon always has been a more mature kind of guy. When he was here, he was a little bit more mature than some of his peers,” Kinsler said. "I think he has benefitted from being around other guys who were more his size. It’s one thing when you’re in high school and you’re 330 pounds and you’re blocking guys who are 220 and 230. Then, you get up there and you’re working against guys who are at your physical ability and stature. He’s learned a lot this year how to deal with that, because that’s a significant difference.
“Just talking to him, I think he’s learned a lot about how to work his blocking technique and things like that against bigger, faster, stronger players on a regular basis. He feels like he’s grown quite a big this year.”
However, another a big adjustment for Sandifer has been learning how to play inside, as Florida recruited him to play offensive guard. During practices this past year, Sandifer saw plenty of reps on scout team but also received a good share of snaps time to time throughout the season with the second-team offense at left guard.
“According to him, it’s helped him a lot – being able to deal with being in that kind of a role and being redshirted,” Kinsler said. “He understands, and I think he almost welcomed a redshirt to have that year to develop and learn the techniques they wanted him to learn. If a young man goes in on scout team and handles it right with the right attitude, they can get a lot accomplished and get a lot better. Since he’s been through that process before in high school, he probably handled it pretty good. Just talking to him, I think he used it the right way.”
At Northside High, Sandifer played for an offense that ran the ball about 70% of the time and passed it during the other 30%. After Sandifer played in such a run-oriented offense, Kinsler believes his former player needed this past year to learn how to polish his technique in pass protection. However, he did have plenty of praise for Sandifer’s “stickability” maintaining his blocks on rushing plays while the ball-carrier gets to the next level.
“He always been a good run-blocker,” Kinsler said. “Of course here in high school as a tackle, you move him down inside and there are some different things he has to improve on working from the inside instead of on the edge like that. But one thing I knew he had to improve on, he knew, was his pass protection. Some of the different aspects of pass protection, especially doing it from the inside. He feels like he’s improved a lot just in this first year.
“It’s so different now in the college game - they want those taller, lankier tackles with those long arms to take care of those speed rushers,” Kinsler continued. “That’s something that at that level that Florida plays in that he just didn’t have that body type. He’s more of that big, inside guy, maybe not quite as tall but who could handle the inside gaps a little bit better. That’s something he knew as the recruiting process started, that he was going to wind up as an inside player because he didn’t have the length like some of those tackles in college.
“All we tried to do is prepare him mentally. He was going to have to learn a lot of different techniques, because it’s a whole lot different when you’ve got those inside guys that bull-rush you or your angles are a little bit different working up to a linebacker, compared to when you’re at tackle and you’re trying to quick-step out and you’re trying to prevent that speed-rusher from getting around you. Now, he’s got help on the inside and outside. It’s a whole different mindset."
This offseason, Sandifer will have an opportunity to compete for a role in the rotation at guard. Florida loses offensive guard/center Trip Thurman and right tackle Mason Halter to graduation but returns key rotational players in tackles David Sharpe and Fred Johnson, center Cameron Dillard and guards Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan and Antonio Riles. Sandifer, along with Travaris Dorsey, Nick Buchanan and others, could have a shot at possibly rounding out the rotation with strong performances during the spring and in fall camp.
“Just talking to him, he really enjoys the coaching staff and he enjoys the situation,” Kinsler said. “You could tell he’s excited about it. He really feels like he made the right choice with picking Florida.”
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