ESPN’s GatorNation is previewing each position leading up to the start of the season with a short video. Each Friday until the season kicks off, Michael DiRocco and Jeff Barlis will analyze a position group, tell you who is starting and why, and provide a breakdown of the depth at the position. This week it’s receivers/tight ends.
The starters: WR Andre Debose (RJr.), WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. (RSr.), WR Quinton Dunbar (RSo.), TE Jordan Reed (RJr.)
The backups: WR Latroy Pittman (Fr.), WR Solomon Patton (Jr.), WR Stephen Alli (RJr.), WR Raphael Andrades (Fr.), TE Clay Burton (RFr.), TE Kent Taylor (Fr.), TE Colin Thompson (Fr.), TE Tevin Westbrook (RFr.)
Comment: Hammond is UF’s most experienced receiver (41 catches). Debose has proven big-play ability (27.0 yards per catch and 4 TDs of at least 60 yards in 2011). But neither has been very consistent. Dunbar had a solid spring. The star of the spring, though, was Pittman, an early enrollee who was easily the most impressive receiver. He’ll get the start on opening day if he continues to progress. A.C. Leonard was Florida's most talented tight end but transferred after an arrest and suspension. Reed is still working through the transition from quarterback. Taylor is intriguing because he’s not an inline tight end and could be used as a wide receiver if needed.
Young guys to watch: There's plenty of opportunity for freshman pass-catchers in 2012, thanks to a glaring lack of production and consistency on the roster. This is a depth chart a freshman can climb quickly, as Pittman has already shown. The Gators' first commit in the 2011 class enrolled in January, showed polish and a physical edge in spring camp and could emerge quickly. Andrades, another true freshman receiver, was something of an afterthought in recruiting before joining the class as a signing day surprise in February. He could surprise again by getting on the field this fall. There are high hopes at tight end for Taylor (6-foot-5, 225 pounds), who has added enough bulk in the offseason to be able to play up the middle. Without Leonard on the depth chart, Taylor could make an impact.