Florida Gators: Jordan Reed

Gator Breakdown: Quinton Dunbar 

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
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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. 1 Quinton Dunbar
Redshirt junior wide receiver

GatorNation's Rankings Week concludes with a list of the Gators’ top needs in recruiting for the class of 2014, as well as a list of the top players the Gators are pursuing at those positions.

Ranking UF’s needs for 2014

1. Offensive line

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida came close, but the Gators fell one player short of tying the school record for most players taken in a seven-round NFL draft.

It was still an impressive showing. Eight UF players were drafted, the most since nine were taken in the 2010 draft. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam were taken in the first round, giving the Gators multiple first-round picks for the first time since 2010.

Florida’s eight selections was one shy of LSU and Alabama, which led the Southeastern Conference with nine. Georgia also had eight players picked.

Here’s a breakdown of the Gators who were drafted:

DT Sharrif Floyd
First round: No. 23 overall by Minnesota

DT Kevin Williams and NT Letroy Guion are the Vikings’ starters, but Floyd should figure prominently in the rotation. He said he’s eager to learn all he can from Williams, a 10-year vet with 434 tackles and 56.5 sacks. The knock on Floyd is that he doesn’t have long arms, but he does have a quick first step and good speed for a 300-pounder.

S Matt Elam
First round: No. 32 overall by Baltimore

Elam couldn’t step into a better situation. The Ravens lost both starting safeties from their Super Bowl championship team. They released Bernard Pollard (he later signed with Tennessee) and Ed Reed signed a free-agent contract with Houston. Despite not having ideal size (5-foot-10, 208 pounds), Elam is more similar to Pollard than Reed. Elam is physical enough to play the run but also is good enough to cover slot receivers man-to-man.

LB Jonathan Bostic

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is searching for a new safety net.
With tight end Jordan Reed, the Gators’ leading receiver last season, headed for the NFL, Driskel has to find someone else upon whom he can rely for a sure completion and positive yardage.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease wants him to start looking at the guys lined up beside and behind him.

Pease said the Gators’ running backs were not used enough in the passing game last season. Not counting Trey Burton and Omarius Hines -- who were utility players who lined up in the backfield as well as at tight end and receiver -- UF’s backs last season combined to catch just 26 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown.

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Opening spring camp: Florida

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
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Schedule: The Gators open spring practice today at 4:30 p.m. ET and will conclude the spring with their annual Orange & Blue Debut on April 6 at 1 p.m. ET inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

What's new: Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn left to become the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. Will Muschamp then promoted D.J. Durkin from linebackers/special teams coach to defensive coordinator. Brad Lawing was hired away from South Carolina to help coach Florida's defensive line and was given the title of assistant head coach. Interim wide receivers coach Bush Hamdan was replaced by former Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips.

On the mend: Redshirt junior offensive lineman Chaz Green will miss all of spring after undergoing ankle surgery following Florida's bowl game. Redshirt junior defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell will also miss the spring while he continues to rehab his ACL injury that he suffered last spring. Redshirt junior offensive lineman Ian Silberman is out for the spring, as he recovers from shoulder surgery that he had before the bowl game. Freshman linebacker Matt Rolin is also out, recovering from ACL surgery. Senior offensive lineman Jon Halapio (knee scope), senior wide receiver Solomon Patton (broken arm), redshirt junior linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and punter Kyle Christy (shoulder) will all be limited this spring.

On the move: Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will start the first seven practices at the "Z" receiver spot. Redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. Sophomore Antonio Morrison moved from Will to Mike linebacker, while redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor has moved from Mike to Will. Redshirt freshman Rhaheim Ledbetter moved from safety to fullback. Redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe also moved from linebacker to fullback. Redshirt junior Cody Riggs has moved from cornerback to safety, where he's listed as a starter.

Question marks: Heading into the spring, the biggest questions remain on offense, where the Gators were incredibly inconsistent last year. Workhorse running back Mike Gillislee is gone, and while the Gators should feature a stable of running backs this fall, throwing the ball has to improve or this offense will go in reverse. Quarterback Jeff Driskel says he's more confident and offensive coordinator Brent Pease expects to open things up more in the passing game, but the Gators also have to get better protection up front and develop some more reliable receivers and replace top target, tight end Jordan Reed. Florida's defense has a lot of experienced youngsters, but it won't be easy to replace the production that guys like Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam and Jon Bostic had last year. Florida is also looking for someone to replace kicker Caleb Sturgis. Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin and senior Brad Phillips will compete for that spot.

New faces: Rolin, running back Kelvin Taylor, linebackers Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian, defensive lineman Joey Ivie, and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson all enrolled early as true freshmen. Florida also welcomed Nebraska offensive lineman transfer Tyler Moore (sophomore) and junior college transfer Darius Cummings (DT). Offensive lineman Max Garica also transferred from Maryland and sat out last season.

Key battle: Florida has to find a reliable receiving target at either tight end or receiver. The athletic Kent Taylor figures to be the favorite at tight end, but he'll have to compete with Colin Thompson, Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook. At receiver, it's a free-for-all, and there isn't a ton of experience. Purifoy will certainly get his shot, but vets Quinton Dunbar and Andre Debose have to make significant strides. So does rising sophomore Latroy Pittman, who fell off last year after a successful spring. Sophomore Raphael Andrades will be back and forth between football and baseball, while Patton will be limited. Keep an eye on Robinson, who was the top receiver in the Gators' 2013 class and is a downfield threat and someone who can be elusive through the middle of the field.

Breaking out: Florida needs to replace Gillislee, and sophomore Matt Jones has already had a solid offseason, according to coaches. He progressed as last season went on and has both speed and strength to work with. The plan is for him to be a 20-plus-carry player this fall. Morrison's role now expands, and after having a very solid freshman year, even more is expected from him now that he's at the Mike. If he improves his coverage ability, he could be a big-time player for the Gators. Also, keep an eye on junior safety Jabari Gorman. He covers a lot of ground and isn't afraid to play in the box.

Don't forget about: Ball and Riggs have dealt with injuries in the past, but as they get healthy, Florida's coaches are excited about what they could do in 2013. Ball will play some Buck and provides Florida with another solid third-down pass-rusher and should help the Gators put more pressure on opposing backfields this fall. Riggs played in just two games last year before fracturing his foot, but he's a very physical defensive back. With his speed, moving to safety should provide him a chance to make more plays in Florida's secondary. He was also the starter at safety when Elam went to nickel last year.

Spring question No. 5: Tight ends 

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
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As part of our spring practice preview, each day this week GatorNation addressed the five biggest questions facing the Gators. Today we’ll complete our series with a look at the situation at tight end.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tight end production in the passing game is a major question mark for Florida heading into spring practice.

With the departure of Jordan Reed -- who caught 73 passes in the last two seasons -- to the NFL, the Gators are thin on experience at tight end. There is a lot of pressure on a couple of young players to at least give UF some kind of production because there’s not a lot of confidence that the older players can get it done.


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As part of our spring practice preview, each day this week GatorNation will address the five biggest questions facing the Gators. Today we’ll look at whether the offense can make a jump in the second year under Brent Pease similar to what the defense did last season in its second year under Dan Quinn. On Friday we’ll look at the tight ends.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s defense was much better in its second season under coordinator Dan Quinn than it was in its first.

The Gators are hoping the offense can make similar improvements in the second year under coordinator Brent Pease. Spring practice will be the first chance to find out.

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OLs from SEC can thrive at combine

February, 20, 2013
2/20/13
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Offensive linemen.

Florida Gators


The Gators are represented by a player who never reached his potential (offensive tackle Xavier Nixon) and another who is just scratching the surface of what he could become (tight end Jordan Reed). Nixon started the last five games at left tackle as a freshman in 2009 and appeared ready to become a mainstay at that spot, but he spent time at right tackle in 2010 and then suffered through a mysterious illness after the season that caused him to lose about 55 pounds. Doctors were unable to diagnose his problem and he recovered before the 2011 season and was able to gain back most of the weight but was never quite the player he was as a freshman. Reed came to UF as a quarterback, starred in a wildcat role in 2010, but was moved to tight end in 2011. He's still learning the position but caught 73 passes for 866 yards and five touchdowns in the past two seasons.

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GatorNation recruiting mailbag 

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Now that signing day is complete, it's time to dive in to the GatorNation recruiting mailbag and answer the questions you want to know. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today, but we encourage you to ask your questions on our Insider fan forum, The Chompions Club.

Sony Michel
Corey LongSony Michel is one of many highly touted running backs Florida is going after in this cycle.
Scot5013: Is Sony Michel really liking UF, or just recruiting talk?

A: Michel is a big-time prospect and has five-star potential. He mentioned on Facebook on Monday that Florida is in his top five along with Miami (Fla), Georgia, Notre Dame and Florida State. However, Michel said in a story by DawgNation's Kipp Adams on Tuesday that Alabama, not Florida, was in his top five along with the other schools mentioned on Facebook.

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Florida Class of 2009 review 

January, 24, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There is very little middle ground when it comes to evaluating Florida’s 2009 17-member signing class.

Eight became starters, seven turned into busts and two others are role players -- including one who has driven two separate coaching staffs crazy. Seven of those starters have done so for multiple seasons.

That’s not a bad ratio. Most coaches would be ecstatic if 50 percent of every signing class developed into starters, even if it also meant half weren’t going to make much impact, if any, on the program.

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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. We’ll look at 2013, of course, but also try and give you a peek beyond next season, too. Today is tight end. We will profile wide receivers on Jan. 17.

TIGHT END

Two-deep: With the departure of Jordan Reed to the NFL, the Gators are thin on experience at this position. Juniors Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook have played the most of any of the tight ends on the roster. Burton has as many drops in his career as he does catches (two) and Westbrook is a former defensive lineman who was converted to tight end before the 2012 season.

Next up: Sophomore Kent Taylor was one of two tight ends the Gators signed in 2012. A concussion set him back early in the season and he never made much of an impact, catching just two passes for 5 yards and a touchdown. Colin Thompson was forced to redshirt after he underwent a second surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. He is expected to be healthy for spring practice.

High-profile commits: None.

Additional targets: None.

Looking into 2013: Tight end production in the passing game is a major question mark. Thompson should immediately help as a blocker, but the Gators need weapons in the passing game. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Taylor is the best option there, provided the Gators use him right. He’s a flex tight end who should be used similar to the way former UF standout Aaron Hernandez was used. Line him up wide, in the slot, or as an H-back and get him in space so he can take advantage of mismatches. Thompson could be a factor in the passing game as a red zone target, but Burton and Westbrook should only be used as blockers. Burton dropped an easy touchdown pass and another pass on a fake field goal against Florida State.

It's now or never for Jeff Driskel

January, 10, 2013
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If Jeff Driskel is really going to lead the Florida Gators, the time officially is now.

With Jacoby Brissett deciding to transfer, Driskel can now call this his team. There's no more looking over his shoulder, and his teammates can stop wondering if there will ever be a quarterback controversy. This is Driskel's team, and if he's going to actually lead this group, he has to step up now and take control this spring.

All season, you never really knew what to expect from Florida's offense because you never really knew what Driskel would do. Would he look like the razor-sharp passer who picked apart Tennessee's secondary? Or would he look like the wide-eyed piñata from the Georgia game?

But it's hard to get into much of a rhythm when your line is inconsistent in pass protection and you have one real receiving threat in the form of tight end Jordan Reed. That line will look a lot different in 2013, Reed is gone, and neither A.J. Green nor Julio Jones is walking through that orange-and-blue door.

The departure of Brissett could actually help Driskel and this offense almost immediately. Yes, his absence leaves the Gators with no real experience behind Driskel, but for the first time in a long time, Florida's receivers will be able to develop some real chemistry with Driskel. They couldn't do that during the spring, summer or fall with Driskel competing with Brissett. The team didn't even know who its starting quarterback would be until Week 2, and after Driskel's struggles, chances are that they still weren't sure who would be the guy.

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What we learned in the SEC bowls

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
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Now that the bowl season is over, it's time to take a look back at what we learned in the SEC during the postseason:

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNick Saban and Alabama will be among the favorites to win the national title again next season.
1. It really is Alabama's world: For the second straight year and for the third time in four years, Alabama took home college football's crystal hardware. After the first 15 minutes of the Discover BCS National Championship, it didn't even look like No. 1 Notre Dame deserved to be on the same field as the Crimson Tide. Alabama wore down the Irish defense in the first half, and its defense tormented Notre Dame's offense for about 90 percent of Monday night's game. Nick Saban didn't have his most talented team, but he had his squad way more prepared than Brian Kelly did. Saban's way of making sure his players approach every game the same way proved to be excellent again. Notre Dame was completely overmatched, and with the talent coming back in 2013, Alabama should again be the favorite to win it all. Three-peat?

2. The SEC's dominance is still being challenged: Even though Alabama brought home the SEC's seventh straight BCS title, the SEC's perception is still being challenged. Social media has been buzzing with chants of "overrated" directed toward the SEC because Mississippi State, LSU and Florida all fell flat in their bowl games. Mississippi State lost by 14 to Northwestern, LSU lost to Clemson on a last-second field goal and Florida was run ragged by Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Heading into bowl season, Florida and LSU weren't expected to lose, but they got away from their ground games and paid for it dearly. Still, the SEC went 6-3 (.667) in bowl games, including Texas A&M's 41-13 rout of Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, and Georgia and South Carolina downing Big Ten teams. Only the WAC (2-0) and C-USA (4-1) had better winning percentages, and neither had nearly as many bowl teams. So is the SEC down? Well, while the SEC took a couple of bad losses in bowl season, seven teams finished the year in the Associated Press Top 25, including five in the top 10. The Big Ten and Big 12 had losing bowl records, the Pac-12 went 4-4 and the ACC was 4-2. So, if the SEC is overrated, what are the other conferences?

3. Florida's offensive issues are still a major problem: All season, we wondered what we'd see from Florida's offense. However, for 11 games, even if the offense came up short, the Gators found ways to win. Against Louisville, the Gators went in reverse and never got right again. Jeff Driskel threw a pick-six on the first possession, and the offense imploded from there. Mike Gillislee, who was easily Florida's best offensive weapon, carried the ball just nine times. The Gators panicked, but when they had to pass, they couldn't.

This has to be a major concern for the Gators going forward, because Gillislee is graduating and tight end Jordan Reed declared for the NFL draft. Driskel has to find some major help in the passing game this spring/summer, or Florida's offense will get pummeled again. Driskel's health is now a major concern because backup Jacoby Brissett is transferring, leaving the Gators with no experience behind Driskel.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida QB Jeff Driskel had better make some significant improvements during the offseason, because the Gators’ offense will be in a world of trouble if he doesn’t.

Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel
Jake Roth/US PresswireWith primary backup Jacoby Brissett (12) transferring, Jeff Driskel will have to improve and stay healthy for the Gators.
Or if he gets hurt.

Jacoby Brissett’s decision to transfer leaves Florida with zero experience behind Driskel. Tyler Murphy, who will be a redshirt junior next season, has appeared in three games in his career in a mop-up role and has never thrown a pass. Skyler Mornhinweg will be a redshirt freshman in 2013.

The other quarterback on the roster is expected to be Max Staver, a 6-foot-6, 238-pound four-star recruit from Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy who has pledged to sign with Florida next month.

That means the Gators have virtually no options if Driskel doesn’t get better after his first season as a starter. The 6-4, 237-pound junior-to-be was solid in 2012, completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,646 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. But he struggled with holding on to the ball too long, staring down his receivers and making progressions.

Those are things with which nearly every young quarterback struggles, so it shouldn’t be alarming that Driskel did. Plus, he didn’t get a ton of help. The offensive line was inconsistent in pass protection, and the receivers -- other than TE Jordan Reed (team-high 45 catches), who announced he’s leaving early for the NFL -- are below-average.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tight end Jordan Reed's departure for the NFL means fixing Florida's passing offense -- which ranked 114th nationally this season -- in 2013 just got a lot tougher.

Not only do the Gators no longer have their top pass catcher (45 catches for 559 yards), they're scrounging for experienced options in the passing game. The Gators have only two receivers or tight ends on the roster who has caught more than eight passes in their career. WR Solomon Patton, who will be a senior next season, has eight career receptions in 31 games, and WR Andre Debose has 26 catches in 31 games. WR Quinton Dunbar, who will be a redshirt senior in 2013, has 50 catches for 599 yards and six touchdowns in 26 games. RB/FB Trey Burton has 69 career catches for 531 yards, but he's certainly not someone who can stretch the field. Most of his receptions have been short passes or passes out of the backfield. He's not fast or elusive enough to line up at receiver.

The tight end spot is now a huge question mark. The Gators have four tight ends on the roster: Kent Taylor (sophomore in 2013), Colin Thompson (redshirt freshman), Clay Burton (junior) and Tevin Westbrook (junior). They have a combined four catches for 17 yards and one touchdown. Taylor has shown some promise as a pass catcher, but Clay Burton and Westbrook are mainly blockers. Clay Burton dropped an easy touchdown pass and dropped another pass on a fake field goal. Thompson, who redshirted this season because of a foot injury, is more of a blocking tight end as well. Florida has no tight end commitments in its class of 2013 as of yet.

At receiver, the Gators' top option right now is Dunbar, who had a solid season but struggled with his consistency. He's going to have to improve significantly to be a No. 1 receiver in the SEC. Patton, who missed the last five games with a broken arm, was used sparingly in the passing game. His job was to run the jet sweep, and he did well in that role, gaining 140 yards on 14 carries. Debose has been in and out of the doghouse because of attitude, work ethic, and consistency issues, so to count on getting anything from him would be unwise.

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