- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
No. 24 Brian Poole
Expectations for 2013: The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Poole became one of UF’s top special teams players and worked at cornerback and nickelback in the spring. UF played more sub defense than base defense last season and is expected to do the same in 2013, so Poole will be on the field a lot. He’s following a similar path to cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, who also was a valuable special teams player and received spot duty on defense as a freshman. The question will be whether Poole has the breakthrough season that Purifoy did as a sophomore, but indications are that he’s heading for one.
Best-case scenario in 2013: The perfect situation for Poole would be that the safeties continue to struggle so the coaching staff has to move corner/nickelback Cody Riggs to safety to pair with Jaylen Watkins, another corner who was moved back there in the spring. That would leave Poole as the Gators’ nickelback and he would essentially be a starter. Even if that doesn’t happen, Poole is going to be on the field a lot. He showed in the spring that he has a knack for being around the ball.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: Barring any type of injury, it’s going to be hard to keep Poole off the field on defense. If the situation at safety improves, Poole will be splitting time with Riggs at nickelback. He might end up making more impact as a special teams player than on defense, but that’s still a significant contribution. UF won games last season with its defense and special teams, and it looks like the passing offense is again going to struggle in 2013, so those units will have to carry the day again.
Future impact: Purifoy and Marcus Roberson are juniors and both cornerbacks could leave early for the NFL if they play well this season. Poole would certainly be the top candidate to take one of those spots in 2014.
23hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough