- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at WR Quinton Dunbar.
31 catches, 306 yards, 4 TDs
Role in 2012: Dunbar was supposed to be the Gators’ deep threat, but that never materialized. Instead, he turned out to be QB Jeff Driskel’s top target among the receivers and finished second on the team in receptions.
The good: After struggling early in the season, Dunbar became UF’s most consistent receiver. He led the team in touchdown catches, although none were longer than 19 yards, and averaged 9.9 yards per catch. Dunbar developed a better on-field rapport with Driskel as the season progressed and caught 16 passes in the final five games. He caught TD passes in two of the final three games, and his 14-yarder in the fourth quarter against FSU sealed the Gators’ victory.
The bad: Being the best of the receivers isn’t much of an accomplishment because the unit has been sub-par for three seasons. Dunbar also never became the big-time playmaker the Gators needed. His longest catch of the season was 23 yards, never caught more than four passes in a game, and averaged just 25.5 receiving yards per game. The SEC leader (Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton) averaged 111.2. Dunbar had some trouble with drops, too, and struggled to get separation from defensive backs.
Crystal ball: Dunbar returns in 2013 as the Gators’ most experienced wide receiver (45 catches, 522 yards, 6 TDs) and that should guarantee him a starting spot in the spring. However, he won’t hold onto it if he doesn’t continue to develop and show the ability to stretch the field. Latroy Pittman, Raphael Andrades and the five players currently committed will be given every chance to get on the field. The position has to improve.
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough