Sturgis Anxious for a Healthy Season

Sitting on the sidelines last year during the game against Mississippi State, Caleb Sturgis felt helpless. The back injury that caused him to miss most of the season caused him to sit and watch punter Chas Henry forced into a game-deciding kick. When it missed wide left and the Gators dropped a 10-7 decision, he felt sick.

"Anytime your team loses, it's tough to watch," Caleb Sturgis said. "That one was pretty hard. It was hard putting Chas through that. He hadn't kicked since high school. It was good seeing it turn around through that though."

The disappointment Sturgis felt during that game and the rest of the up-and-down season Henry had kicking field goals isn't there this fall. Instead, there's a feeling of excitement to be back on the field and healthy.

The back injury last season started during the midway point of fall camp. Sturgis noticed some pain in his back as he kicked, but he brushed it off as nothing substantial. As he continued to kick, the back only got worse.

"That was one thing," Sturgis said. "It eventually got to the point where I couldn't. At the beginning of the season, it was bearable. Then it just got worse and worse."

Sturgis blamed the injury on "overtraining," and changes have been made to his workout routine because of it. He spent plenty of time this offseason in the trainer's room, going through a routine of stretching, massages and time in the cold tank.

"I've spent just about half of my days just taking care of it to get better and have it ready for the next day," Sturgis said. "I've just been taking a lot better care of it."

His kicking routine has also changed. Sturgis said kickers usually try not to kick more than 40 balls a day. He has been watching that number strictly this fall.

"This is the best I've felt going into any camp," Sturgis said. "I think it might just be that I'm a year older and appreciating what I lost. This is the most excited I've been before a camp. I'm just excited to be back out there with the guys."

Besides his health, Sturgis also has a new challenge this fall. He's trying to shorten the amount of learning that freshman punter Kyle Christy has to deal with. Since his time at Florida started, Sturgis and Henry have spent time together on the practice field with no doubt about who would be punting.

Christy seems to have the punting job in hand, but Sturgis is trying to take his mind off any pressure of replacing a talented punter like Henry.

"There's no replacing Chas," Sturgis said. "He was the best punter in the country, I think for a few years. There's no replacing him, but Kyle's a good freshman. I think if he matures a little bit, he'll be really good."

The spring game gave Christy an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd inside The Swamp. Once games start, the intensity will be different. Sturgis has done his best to prepare the freshman for it.

"I've just tried to explain to him what it's like out there," Sturgis said. "He played high school football in Indiana, so it's a little different. He's got a good head on his shoulders, so I think he'll be fine out there."

Sturgis also doesn't expect to see many differences in the special teams under Will Muschamp. D.J. Durkin was retained to coach linebackers and special teams, so Sturgis hasn't seen much change. Kickoffs will still be dropped between the five-yard line and goal line, while aimed toward the sideline.

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