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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Rivalry Week: UF, FSU future stars, part 2

By Michael DiRocco and David Hale

We're taking a look ahead to the next three meetings and projecting which Gators and Seminoles could possibly leave their mark on the rivalry.

Today, we’ll highlight the UF offensive players and the FSU defensive players. We did the reverse on Tuesday.

2013

UF RB Matt Jones

The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Jones had a fantastic spring and is poised for a breakout season. He’s the perfect fit for the Gators’ power-run offense. He’s a punishing runner who quickly hits the hole and runs through contact. He’s likely going to average 20 carries per game behind a physical offensive line and should have no trouble topping Mike Gillislee’s total of 1,152 yards in 2012.

FSU LB Telvin Smith

Without question, Smith is the vocal leader of Florida State's defense, and for a senior who plays with so much emotion, there are few bigger stages than the Florida game. The 6-3, 215-pound Smith has been through the battles with the Gators, but he came up small and made just two tackles in last year's loss. He won't want to go out on a sour note, and he figures to be in the center of the action for the Seminoles this time around.

Ahmad Fulwood
With the Gators' lack of receivers, Ahmad Fulwood could have a big impact on the FSU-Florida rivalry over the next few years.
2014

UF QB Jeff Driskel

This will be Driskel’s third season as a starter, and he should have more talent around him than he had in his previous two seasons. The 6-4, 237-pound senior should be able to put up some very good numbers after finally getting some help at receiver. He was solid in 2012 against the Noles but he’ll need to do more than just take care of the ball and not make mistakes to win again in Tallahassee.

FSU S Karlos Williams

By 2014, the entirety of the FSU defense that stifled the Gators in Gainesville in 2011 will be gone, and just a few holdovers from 2012's implosion will remain. The 6-1, 230-pound Williams, however, will be one of the few key playmakers projected to be at the forefront of the FSU defense in two years who still remembers both contests. He's a burgeoning star, and by the time this game rolls around, he'll have the luxury of experience to go with his immense talent. Oh, and the possibility the senior might come up with a huge kick return to spark the scoring doesn't hurt, either.

2015

UF WR Ahmad Fulwood

The 6-4, 200-pound Fulwood was one of five receivers the Gators signed in 2013, and he’s perhaps the most intriguing. He’s a big target with soft hands and is a downfield threat despite not having blazing speed. What he does have is really good body control and the ability to out-fight a DB for a ball despite his skinny frame. That’s something the Gators have been missing for a long time, especially in the red zone.

FSU LB Matthew Thomas

OK, so this one's a risky pick. After all, even just a few weeks ago, no one was quite sure if Thomas would ever arrive in Tallahassee in 2013 after wavering on his decision in the months following signing day. But there's no questioning the 6-3, 205-pound Thomas' talent, so if he finds a home at FSU, odds are he'll be at the center of the Seminoles' defensive effort by the time this game rolls around -- and those rumblings about a transfer to USC will be long since forgotten.