- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Which Florida players made the biggest contributions on the field in 2012?
GatorNation told you after every game. Now that the season’s over, here are the final rankings of the players who are responsible for the Gators’ 11-2 record:
1. RB Mike Gillislee: The Gators needed him to stay healthy and be a feature back capable of handling 20-plus carries per game. He delivered. Though he got banged up -- he hurt his groin against Texas A&M on a TD run but stayed in the game -- he played in every game and ran for 1,152 yards and 10 TDs. He averaged 18.7 carries and 4.7 yards per game.
2. Matt Elam: Elam finished second on the team in tackles (76) and added two sacks and four interceptions. The first-team All-American made big play after big play, but none was bigger than his strip of LSU WR Odell Beckham after a big gain. UF was holding a one-point lead at the time and the Gators scored the clinching touchdown after that turnover.
3. DT Sharrif Floyd: Other than Elam, Floyd was the Gators’ best defensive player. He was disruptive on the field all season and opponents couldn’t handle him one-on-one. He capped his season with a two-sack performance against Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and finished with 46 tackles and 3 sacks.
4. TE Jordan Reed: He was pretty much UF’s only weapon in the passing game and led the team with 45 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns. He did that despite having a sore left knee for nearly half the season.
5. QB Jeff Driskel: Driskel’s first season as a starter was solid. He threw for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions and ran for 413 yards. He’s got a lot of work to do in the offseason and it’ll be interesting to see if he improves in the second season under coordinator Brent Pease as much as some of the defensive players improved in the second season under coordinator Dan Quinn.
6. CB Loucheiz Purifoy: Purifoy started every game at corner and was a special teams standout. By the end of the season he was spending time at receiver and returning kicks, too. Purifoy finished with 51 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks. He’ll be one of the team’s most valuable players in 2013.
7. S Josh Evans: He was the team’s most improved player and ended up leading the team in tackles (82). He also had three interceptions and 2.5 sacks.
8. LB Jon Bostic: He finished third on the team with 68 tackles and was the unquestioned leader of the unit, which despite the poor performance in the Sugar Bowl ended up being one of the nation’s top defenses. Bostic didn’t make many spectacular plays but he was steady and very good against the run.
9. K Caleb Sturgis: Sturgis kicked a single-season school record 24 field goals this season and finished his career with a school-record 70. He made three field goals of at least 50 yards this season to extend his school record to eight.
10. P Kyle Christy: Because of the style Will Muschamp wants to play, and the struggling offense, field position was critical for the Gators. Christy was a major part of that. He was able to consistently flip the field. He averaged 45.8 yards per punt, which is a single-season school record.
2dSam Khan Jr.