Florida Gators: John Brantley

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Class of 2007 only won one national championship, but it stands alone as the single most talent-rich recruiting class in school history.

The list of NFL players is mind-boggling, but as part of our week-long series looking at Florida's five most impactful recruiting classes of the last decade, the focus is on college football.

With the 2006 national title under his belt, coach Urban Meyer was cooking with gas at Florida. His recruiting prowess was becoming the stuff of legends, and 2007 is a big piece of evidence to support that contention.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Dunlap
AP Photo/David KohlCarlos Dunlap (96) was one of the many members of Florida's 2007 recruiting class to find great success in the NFL.
ESPN ranked Florida's 2007 class No. 2 in the nation. It turned out to be an epic group that kept an already-elite program on top for a few more seasons.

The stars: Where to begin? Joe Haden began his decorated college career with a bang, becoming the first true freshman in UF history to start a game at cornerback on opening day. The Pouncey twins, Maurkice and Mike, were stalwarts on the offensive line. Six-foot-6, 280-pound Carlos Dunlap was a monstrous presence at defensive end. Safety Major Wright started 33 of 41 games at free safety and wreaked havoc all over the field. And Aaron Hernandez was an exceptional playmaker at tight end and H-back. All six of these standouts played as true freshmen, and only Mike Pouncey stayed for his senior year, as the others jumped to the NFL.

The contributors: Ball-hawking safety Ahmad Black had 13 career interceptions and was a leader on and off the field for Florida. Chaz Henry was UF's punter for four seasons and won the Ray Guy Award in 2010. Defensive linemen Jaye Howard, Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens all made their marks as well. Running back Chris Rainey and wideout Deonte Thompson had their ups and downs at UF but were starters. Still, just seven of the 27 recruits in this class transferred away. So the majority of the class contributed to Florida's success.

The letdowns: John Brown and Torrey Davis were among the top-ranked defensive tackles in the class -- Nos. 3 and 9, respectively -- but neither did much at Florida, and both transferred. John Brantley was the No. 4-rated quarterback in the Class of 2007 but had a largely undistinguished career at UF. Bo Williams, the No. 11 running back prospect, enrolled early but transferred after one year at UF. Two other highly rated prospects who struggled were guard James Wilson (injuries) and linebacker Lorenzo Edwards (ineffectiveness). Of the six Gators in this category, all but Edwards were among the top 106 recruits in the nation in 2007.

The results: Florida went 26-2 from 2008-09, winning SEC and national titles in 2008 and recording the second unblemished regular season in school history in 2009. It was an incredible run of success fueled by some terrific talents. Florida had a nation's best nine players selected in the NFL draft in 2010, including three in the first round and a school-record six players in the first two rounds. Haden, Wright, Dunlap, Hernandez and both Pounceys have had great success in the NFL. Black, Howard and Rainey were also drafted. And Trattou, Henry and Thompson have spent time in the league.

The asterisk: One more player deserves mention. The biggest star in Florida's recruiting class -- heck, the biggest star to emerge from the entire Class of 2007 -- was quarterback Cam Newton. He could qualify for all of the categories listed here. He contributed to UF as a backup to Tim Tebow. He was reportedly caught cheating and then arrested and charged with felony burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice. Newton was suspended by UF before transferring to junior college and ending up at Auburn, where he became a college football legend as a Heisman Trophy winner and a national champion. He's now an NFL superstar for the Carolina Panthers.

The other asterisk: It wouldn't be a complete story to include Hernandez's accomplishments here without mentioning his long list of legal troubles. In 2013 he was indicted by a grand jury on a first-degree murder charge. Hernandez pled not guilty and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. The charges and other investigations he faces prompted the New England Patriots to release Hernandez. Back in Gainesville, the Gators removed images of Hernandez from their football facilities and a brick outside the stadium honoring his selection as a first-team All-American in 2009.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jeff Driskel is entering his second season as Florida’s starting quarterback, and that comes with expectations.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesIt seems likely that Jeff Driskel will run more in Florida's new offense in 2014.
The bar was set somewhat low in 2012, because Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were sophomores who had seen minimal playing time in 2011 -- and neither was very good when they did get on the field. Driskel did have some very good moments in his first season as a starter, but he also had some terrible ones, too.

Now that he has a year in coordinator Brent Pease’s system, the left side of the offensive line has been upgraded, and he has improved his ability to read coverages and change the pass protections when needed, Driskel should be better. That’s what UF coach Will Muschamp is hoping, anyway.

If the past is an accurate indicator, then Driskel will be. Most of UF’s recent quarterbacks were better in their second season as a starter than they were in their first season. Here’s a look:

Shane Matthews

1990: Completed 239 of 328 passes (60.6 percent) for 2,962 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was a consensus All-SEC first-team pick and was the league’s player of the year after posting four of the top 10 single-game passing totals in SEC history.

1991: Completed 218 of 361 passes (60.4 percent) for 3,130 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He was a consensus All-SEC first-team pick and was the league’s Player of the Year again -- becoming just the fifth player in SEC history to earn that honor twice. He set 14 school and five SEC records.

Matthews was certainly better in his second season, which was also coach Steve Spurrier’s second season in Gainesville. Spurrier and Matthews shredded the SEC and established the Gators as a program that would annually compete for the national championship.

Danny Wuerffel

1993: Completed 159 of 273 passes (58.2 percent) for 2,230 yards and 22 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The 22 touchdowns were an NCAA freshman record. He threw for at least three touchdowns in four of his seven starts and set a school record by throwing for at least three touchdowns in four consecutive starts.

1994: Completed 132 of 212 (62.3 percent) passes for 1,734 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He had a streak of 67 consecutive passes without an interception and led UF to the second of their four consecutive SEC titles. He set three Sugar Bowl records, tied another and set two UF bowl game records in the Gators’ loss to FSU.

Wuerffel split time each season with Terry Dean but was the Gators’ leading passer both years. The experience he gained turned out to be invaluable and set the state for his monster seasons in 1995 and 1996, which ended with him winning the Heisman Trophy and the Gators winning the school’s first national championship.

Rex Grossman

2000: Completed 131 of 212 passes (61.8 percent) for 1,866 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Grossman rotated with Jesse Palmer and Brock Berlin early in the season but eventually won the starting job and started eight games as a redshirt freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors. Grossman was the first freshman to win SEC Championship Game MVP honors.

2001: Completed 259 of 395 passes (65.6 percent) for 3,896 yards and 34 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. The 3,896 yards is still a school single-season record and is second on the SEC’s single-season list. Grossman finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting and was a first-team All-American and The Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year.

Grossman’s second season as the starter was one of the best in SEC history. He should have won the Heisman Trophy in 2001 and certainly would have been the favorite to win it in 2002 had Spurrier not left for the NFL's Washington Redskins.

Chris Leak

2003: Completed 190 of 320 passes (59.4 percent) for 2,435 yards and 16 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. After rotating with Gavin Dickey and Ingle Martin in the season’s first four games, Leak was given the starting job and led the Gators to a 21-20 come-from-behind victory over Kentucky.

2004: Completed 238 of 399 passes (59.4 percent) for 3,197 yards and 29 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Leak averaged 277 yards per game in the last seven games of the season. He threw six touchdown passes against South Carolina, which tied Wuerffel’s school record for most TD passes in an SEC game.

Leak had more success in his second season as a starter, which came in Larry Fedora’s first and only season as the Gators’ offensive coordinator. Ed Zaunbrecher was the coordinator in 2002-03. Leak and UF’s offense struggled in 2005 in the transition to Urban Meyer’s spread-option offense, but he led the Gators to the 2006 national title.

Tim Tebow

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesTim Tebow's second year as a starter at Florida resulted in a national championship for the Gators.
2007: Completed 234 of 317 passes (68.5 percent) for 3,132 yards and 32 touchdowns with six interceptions and ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns. Tebow was the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He also claimed the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards, was The Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year, and was a consensus first-team All-American. He became the first player in NCAA history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns.

2008: Completed 192 of 298 passes (64.4 percent) for 2,746 yards and 30 touchdowns with four interceptions and ran for 673 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tebow was a Heisman finalist and won the Maxwell and Manning awards. He also repeated as The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year. He had a school-record streak of 230 consecutive passes without an interception.

Tebow’s first year as a starter is hard to top, but he came pretty darn close in his second season to equaling what he did in 2007. More importantly, Tebow led the Gators to the program’s third national title in 2008. Tebow will go down as one of the greatest players in college football history. When his career finished, he either tied or owned five NCAA, 13 SEC and 27 school records.

John Brantley

2010: Completed 200 of 329 passes (60.8 percent) for 2,062 yards and nine touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Brantley started every game, but rotated at times with Trey Burton and Jordan Reed.

2011: Completed 144 of 240 passes (60.0 percent) for 2,044 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Brantley suffered an ankle injury against Alabama and missed the next two games. He also left the FSU game with a concussion.

Brantley’s numbers were roughly the same in 2011 as they were in 2010, but in fewer games. Brantley had different head coaches and offensive coordinators in successive seasons, plus he didn’t have anything close to the same weapons around him that the previous quarterbacks did.

Top Florida recruit misses 

January, 22, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In little more than a week, recruits across the country will sign national letters of intent, beginning what they hope will be college careers that culminate with their selection in the first round of the NFL draft.

It’s an amazing time for recruits. They are courted and wooed by some of the nation’s top coaches. Championships and All-American honors are promised. Stardom is just seven months away.

For some of those recruits, however, their athletic careers peak the day they sign. For whatever reason -- off-the-field issues, injuries, lack of drive, attitude problems, lack of talent -- they don’t make it. Sometimes they don’t even make it to the field. They’re labeled as busts.

Sunday Night QB: Simple scenario for UF 

October, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It doesn’t get any simpler for Florida against Georgia on Saturday.

Beat the Bulldogs in the annual meeting between the SEC rivals in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Gators will be Eastern Division champions.

No if-then scenarios. No needing help. Just win and they’re guaranteed a spot in the Dec. 1 SEC championship game in Atlanta.

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Gators offense just offensive post-Tebow

August, 16, 2012
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It's only year two of the Will Muschamp era at Florida, but Gator fans have to be feeling uneasy about its stagnant offense while winning just five regular-season games against FBS opponents in 2011.

Even more troubling, none of the five wins came against teams that finished the year with a winning record (1-11 FAU, 3-9 UAB, 5-7 Tennessee, 5-7 Kentucky and 6-7 Vanderbilt).

Expanding the scope and looking at the Gators against all automatic qualifiers, you can see just how much they scuffled in 2011.

Florida ranked 65th of 67 AQ schools in both third-down percentage (29.0) and total yards per game (284.0). Its offense also finished 64th in red-zone touchdown percentage (41.7).

Florida’s struggles really started with the departures of Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin to the NFL.

Led by Tebow and Harvin in 2007 and 2008, the Florida offense completed 38 touchdown passes and threw eight interceptions in SEC contests.

With Tebow alone in 2009, the Gators managed only nine touchdown passes and five picks in SEC play, illustrating Harvin's importance to the team.

The last two years have been even worse for Florida -- a combined 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions against conference opponents.

Quarterback John Brantley never looked comfortable, while Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel went through predictable freshman growing pains. Not surprisingly, the Gators went 7-9 in the SEC over the last two seasons.

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ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Let’s face it, the Florida-Georgia rivalry had gotten boring.

Florida’s lopsided victories in the 1990s and relatively uneventful games in the early 2000s had turned what was once one of the most bitter rivalries in college football into just another game.

[+] EnlargeGeorgia touchdown
Palm Beach Post/ZUMA Press/Icon SMIThe entire Georgia team rushed the field after scoring the opening touchdown against Florida in 2007.
But things have heated up again over the past five years -- thanks in part to some questionable actions -- and now the rivalry between the SEC schools is as intense as ever. Players danced, eyes were almost gouged, and the infamous choke sign made an appearance.

Oh, yeah, and there’s the matter of Florida’s coach having played at Georgia, too.

Can’t wait to see what happens this year when the teams meet at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 27.

THE INTENSITY IS BACK

Why has the Florida-Georgia rivalry heated up again? How about these five reasons:

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ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett
Icon SMI, Getty ImagesWith true freshmen QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett forced onto the field, Florida struggled to convert third downs in 2011.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Offense is what kept Florida from being a better team in 2011.

The Gators had one of the nation’s better defenses last season. UF ranked in the top 10 nationally in third-down defense (second, 27.3 percent), pass defense (seventh, 166.8 yards per game) and total defense (eighth, 299.5 yards per game). But that couldn’t overcome an offense that scored just 27 points in losses to Alabama, LSU and Auburn, and scored 12 or less points in five of its six losses.

The biggest reason for the offensive struggles -- other than the injury to quarterback John Brantley -- was the Gators’ ineffectiveness on third down. UF converted just 32.1 percent of its third downs (51-of-159), which ranked 111th nationally (out of 120 teams) and was the second-worst percentage in school history. Only the 1979 team (26.1 percent) was worse.

(Read full post)

ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett will continue their battle to be Florida’s starting quarterback into August. The competition, UF coach Will Muschamp has said at various Gator club gatherings this spring, is too close to call.

Neither was particularly impressive last season when forced into action because of injuries to starter John Brantley. Brissett completed 46.2 percent of his passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions, while Driskel completed 47.1 percent of his passes for 148 yards with two interceptions.

Brissett started the LSU game and understandably struggled against a Tigers defense loaded with NFL talent. But he and Driskel each played a half against Auburn (Brissett started), and all they could manage was six points against a defense that gave up at least 34 points seven times last season.

They should be better this season. They’re a year older, have SEC experience and are much more comfortable with offensive coordinator Brent Pease than Charlie Weis. There’s historical evidence to suggest that the one who does win the job will have a solid season. Of the 10 first-year starters at quarterback at UF since 1980, seven threw more touchdowns than interceptions, and all but four threw for at least 2,000 yards.

Dan Wenger is headed to New York

April, 30, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Former Florida offensive lineman Dan Wenger announced via Twitter that he has been "given an opportunity" with the New York Jets.

Wenger, like all draft picks and undrafted free agents, will participate in a mini-camp held within 15 days of the NFL Draft. Wenger started 11 games in 2011 in his only season at Florida (he missed two games with an ankle injury). He transferred to UF from Notre Dame after the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility because of two concussions he suffered early in the 2010 season.

Former UF quarterback John Brantley (Baltimore Ravens), receiver Deonte Thompson (Ravens) and defensive end William Green (Cleveland Browns) also will participate in mini-camps, as will draft picks Jaye Howard (Seattle, fourth round) and Chris Rainey (Pittsburgh, fifth round).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- John Brantley's career at Florida certainly didn't go as planned, but he's still getting a shot to make it in the NFL.

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Brantley signed a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night, about an hour after the NFL draft concluded.

Brantley finished his UF career with 4,750 yards passing and 30 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. He threw for 2,044 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions this past season. He is the fourth quarterback the Ravens have under contract, joining starter Joe Flacco and backups Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter.

Brantley will at least have one familiar face with him in Baltimore. Receiver Deonte Thompson also signed a free-agent contract with the Ravens. Thompson finished his UF career with 101 catches for 1,446 yards and nine touchdowns. Baltimore already has eight receivers under contract and drafted Miami's Tommy Streeter in the sixth round.

In addition, defensive end William Green signed with the Cleveland Browns, where he will join former UF standout Joe Haden. Haden was the Browns' first-round draft pick (No. 7 overall) in 2010.

Defensive back Moses Jenkins and offensive lineman Dan Wenger are the other players who wrapped up their careers in 2011. They have not signed free-agent deals.

Spring shoes to fill: Florida

March, 26, 2012
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Florida is looking to revamp its offense in 2012, but the quarterback spot has the biggest hole to fill:

OUT: Quarterback John Brantley: Brantley had a rough last two years in Gainesville. He couldn't effectively run the spread offense in 2010, and while he improved under Charlie Weis, the middle part of his senior season was taken away by an ankle injury. Brantley finished the 2011 season with 2,044 passing yards, 11 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He certainly had his off moments in the pocket, but he was Florida's best option. Even through his struggles, players continuously rallied around Brantley. He was more comfortable running Weis' pro-style offense, but never really had the confidence or consistency needed to be truly effective in the SEC. The Gators now have three underclassmen with little experience vying for the starting spot.

IN: Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel or Tyler Murphy: These rising sophomores are in for an intense battle this spring. Brissett enters the competition with the most experience of the three, after backing up Brantley for most of the 2011 season. Driskel began the year as the No. 2 quarterback, but fell behind Brissett after a rough showing in the second half of the Alabama game (the game Brantley was injured). Drikel also suffered an ankle injury in that game. Brissett eventually started and played the entire LSU game. He and Driskel both played in the loss to Auburn. Brissett finished the season with 206 passing yards, two touchdown passes and four interceptions, and filled in for Brantley a number of times last season when the Gators went under center because of Brantley's lack of mobility after the ankle injury. Driskel arrived at Florida last season as the nation's top high school quarterback, but was better suited to run Urban Meyer's spread offense. He was recruited by Meyer, but stayed on and enrolled early even after Will Muschamp took over. As for Murphy, he has been on campus a year longer than the others, but has yet to take a collegiate snap. He fits a spread offense much better, but has earned praise from his teammates for his passing ability. Still, it seems as though he's looking up at both Brissett and Driskel. Heading into spring, Brissett held the edge in experience, and seemed to have the most confidence in his play and his understanding of the offense. However, he and Driskel have been getting almost equal reps in practice.
Jacoby BrissettTyler Kaufman/Icon SMIFlorida quarterback Jacoby Brissett made a light-hearted joke about his friendship with fellow QB Jeff Driskel after practice Thursday, but he was adamant that nothing this season would undermine the solid relationship.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The relationship between Florida quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett really wasn’t tested last season when they were competing to be the backup to starter John Brantley.

It will be this spring, though, when the two are battling to succeed Brantley in the Gators’ first quarterback competition since the 2003 season.

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Opening spring camp: Florida

March, 14, 2012
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Schedule: Florida opens spring practice Wednesday afternoon and concludes on April 7 with the Orange & Blue Debut, presented by Sunniland, at 1 p.m. ET in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In conjunction with Florida Football's Annual Coaches Clinic, practice will open to the public twice -- March 16 and March 17.

What's new: Florida welcomes in new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who left Boise State, as its new offensive coordinator after Charlie Weis left to become the head coach at Kansas. Florida also hired former Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis to replace Frank Verducci, while Jeff Dillman replaces Mickey Marrotti as the Gators' strength and conditioning coach.

On the mend: Florida will be down a few players this spring. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley is out while he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. Cornerback Jeremy Brown is out with a knee injury that kept him out all of the 2011 season. Offensive linemen Ian Silberman, Tommy Jordan, Kyle Koehne and Cole Gilliam, along with linebacker Lerentee McCray and defensive end Kedric Johnson, are all out with shoulder injuries. Cornerback Marcus Roberson (neck) was cleared for non-contact drills. Linebacker Neiron Ball, who was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation after a blood vessel burst in his head before the 2011 season, has been cleared to resume physical activity, but not for practice.

On the move: Redshirt senior Omarius Hines is moving from wide receiver to cross train at running back and tight end. Hines has always been some sort of a hybrid player, recording 41 career receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns and carrying the ball 13 times for 164 rushing yards and two more scores. Nick Alajajian is moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle to provide depth with Easley out.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's definitely not a good sign about Florida's NFL Draft prospects when there's significantly more talent watching the pro scout day workouts than participating in them.

Quarterback John Brantley, running back Chris Rainey, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, and receiver Deonte Thompson worked out in front of NFL scouts from 24 teams and one head coach -- Jacksonville's Mike Mularkey -- on Tuesday morning at Florida Field. None of those players are projected any higher than mid- to late-round selections, which would snap the school's five-year streak of having at least one player taken in the first round.

Contrast that with the talented group of former UF players who watched the workouts. There were four first-round picks -- Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, Travis Taylor, and Percy Harvin -- and four others who were taken in the seventh round or higher: Terry Jackson (fifth), Riley Cooper (fifth) and Kerwin Bell (seventh). Mularkey was a ninth-round pick.

"We need more guys out there in position to be drafted," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "That's pretty evident as you go through our last two pro days.

"We need to do a better job recruiting. We need to do a better job evaluating. We need to do a better job of developing our players and coaching. Bottom line."

Rainey ran a 4.38 in the 40 0n Tuesday. His biggest goal was to prove to the scouts that he can catch the ball out of the backfield. As to where the 5-foot-9, 180-pound athlete fits on the next level, he said he's basically a smaller Harvin clone. He can play receiver or running back, return kicks and punts, and play on kick or punt block units.

"My goal is to confuse the scouts and they do the rest [in figuring out where he should play]," said Rainey, who finished his career with 3,948 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns. "If you’re going to be a playmaker on the field, that’s all that matters."

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Spring preview: Eastern Division

February, 24, 2012
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Now that you've seen what to watch in the SEC Western Division, let's check out the East:

FLORIDA

Spring practice start date: March 14
Spring game: April 7

What to watch:

Finding offensive playmakers: Year 2 of the Will Muschamp era begins with the team trying to find someone who can make a few plays for this fall. New offensive coordinator Brent Pease has a host of unproven offensive talent to work with. Wide receiver Andre Debose was Florida's best deep threat last year, and the coaches raved about receiver Quinton Dunbar's potential, but neither was consistent enough in 2011. Maybe Florida can finally turn to bigger backs Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown in the playmaking department.

Toughening up the offensive line: The Gators' line struggled throughout the 2011 season. It wasn't always at 100 percent, but Florida's line also just wasn't tough enough -- mentally or physically. The Gators couldn't get the tough yards on the ground and didn't exactly protect quarterback John Brantley enough. The line should get a boost with early enrollees D.J. Humphries, who was the top offensive line prospect in the 2012 class, and Jessamen Dunker, but Florida will have to get improvement from players who return to a line that lost just one starter from last season.

Quarterback battle: Brantley is gone, leaving rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy. Brissett replaced Driskel as Florida's No. 2 quarterback last year, while Murphy has yet to take a college snap. Brissett and Driskel had plenty of down moments last fall but should get a chance to reinvent themselves this spring with new leadership and more practice reps. This spring will be extremely important for all three quarterbacks as they try to improve a position that struggled mightily the past two years.

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