Florida Gators: Florida football

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Versatile defensive backs Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs starting at safety would be best for Florida's defense.

For the season opener against Toledo, anyway.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesFlorida coach Will Muschamp is giving several players a chance to prove themselves in the early going.

But UF coach Will Muschamp is concerned about October and November, which is why he’s giving several other players a chance to prove they should be a starter at either safety spot. Developing depth at a position that has struggled to replace Matt Elam and Josh Evans means he can’t go with the solution.

Gator Breakdown: Max Garcia 

July, 16, 2013
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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. 76 Max Garcia

Redshirt junior offensive lineman

Expectations for 2013: The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Garcia sat out last season after transferring from Maryland. He steps into the starting spot at left guard next to sophomore tackle D.J. Humphries. He’s a bruising run blocker but also has the agility to play outside as well. He started 12 games at left tackle for the Terps in 2011. That versatility gives the Gators some extra insurance in case of injuries.


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Gator Breakdown: Michael Taylor 

July, 5, 2013
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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. 51 Michael Taylor
Redshirt junior linebacker

Expectations for 2013: The 6-foot, 231-pound Taylor enters August practices battling with senior Darrin Kitchens for the starting spot at weakside linebacker. Taylor has played mostly middle linebacker at UF, but those positions are pretty similar in the Gators’ defense so this isn’t a complicated switch. Taylor is the Gators’ most experienced linebacker (68 career tackles) and is being counted on to be the group’s leader, especially with sophomore Antonio Morrison taking over in the middle. Taylor is a solid run-stopping linebacker but has trouble in coverage so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play on first and second downs and have Kitchens or an extra defensive back on the field in third down.


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Gator Breakdown: Leon Orr 

July, 2, 2013
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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. 44 Leon Orr

Redshirt junior defensive tackle

Expectations for 2013: Florida needs a wide body to take over for Omar Hunter as a run-stuffing nose tackle, and the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Orr is competing with 6-3, 286-pound Damien Jacobs for the starting job. Even if he doesn’t beat out Jacobs, Orr is going to get a lot of work because the Gators regularly rotate their tackles to keep them fresh. Orr, who had 15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack last season, is in the best shape of his career and is finally ready to step into a key role.


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Gator Breakdown: Cody Riggs 

June, 27, 2013
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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. 31 Cody Riggs
Redshirt junior defensive back


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DBs from SEC blanket combine

February, 22, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites took a look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins today in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Click here to read the entire predraft series. Today: Defensive backs and special teams.

Florida Gators


The Gators might have another first-round pick in today’s group and two other players who might not get drafted. S Matt Elam has been projected to go late in the first round -- most often to New England with the 29th pick -- after a junior season in which he was named an All-American. S Josh Evans and K Caleb Sturgis might very well not get drafted in April. Sturgis is one of the nation’s top kickers, but some teams are reluctant to draft kickers even in the later rounds if they have other needs. Then again, there are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted a punter in the third round.

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SEC's DLs, LBs strong at combine

February, 21, 2013
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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: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

Florida Gators


The heart of the Gators’ 2012 defense will participate in the combine today. DT Sharrif Floyd, whose stock is rising rapidly as he is projected to be taken as high as No. 3, had a fantastic season and anchored UF’s front. He dominated Florida State’s front, and his mixture of size, strength and quickness has scouts drooling. ILB Jon Bostic started every game the past two seasons and was UF’s leader on defense. Nobody was more dependable than Bostic. OLB Jelani Jenkins was limited in 2012 because of a broken finger, a strained hamstring and a broken foot, but when healthy he’s a solid player. OLB Lerentee McCray was forced into action at the buck position (hybrid end/linebacker) because of the injury to Ronald Powell. He didn’t produce big numbers but was a high-effort, high-motor guy.

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OLs from SEC can thrive at combine

February, 20, 2013
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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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Central Florida drives UF's recruiting 

February, 20, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- South Florida used to be where college football coaches would flock to try to land the next great football star. For the most part, that is still the case -- but Florida's focus appears to have shifted north.

Since Florida coach Will Muschamp took the reins at UF, the Gators have finished with recruiting classes ranked Nos. 12, 4 and 2 in the country.

Of the 61 players signed in those three classes, only 18 percent (11) were from South Florida.


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SEC sends several RBs to NFL combine

February, 19, 2013
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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. Today: Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

LSU Tigers


Perhaps it says something about LSU's offense in 2012 that among a record 13 players invited to the NFL combine from the Tigers, only two are offensive skill players who are generally considered, at this point, marginal talents. Running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford are the only skill players invited to Indianapolis, which is understandable when one considers LSU was 10th in the SEC in total offense. It's also a sign of youth. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, fullback J.C. Copeland, running back Jeremy Hill and all of LSU's primary threats at wide receiver will return in 2013.

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Juco DT Reed signs with UF

February, 6, 2013
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Junior college defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Goldsboro, N.C./East Mississippi CC) has signed his letter of intent to play football at the University of Florida.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman chose Florida over Alabama.

Reed, who previously had been committed to Ole Miss before officially decommitting last Thursday, joins two other defensive tackles in Florida's class: commit Caleb Brantley and early enrollee Darious Cummings.

Reed, Cummings and Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs all attended EMCC.
Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Centennial) joined Florida's No. 1-ranked recruiting class on Wednesday morning, making the announcement in a ceremony at his high school. Bostwick picked the Gators over Alabama and Miami.

He is the 27th-ranked player nationally at his position and 286th in the ESPN 300.

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Nick Washington TweetChat 

February, 5, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida defensive back commitment Nick Washington took some time this weekend to respond to questions from Florida fans that were submitted on Twitter using the #AskNW hashtag. Nick's answer's were not altered in anyway. If you have more questions for Nick, feel free to send him a message on Twitter: @NickWashingtonn.


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GatorNation chat highlights

January, 30, 2013
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GatorNation recruiting reporter Derek Tyson answered UF-related questions via Twitter -- below are the highlights. See the full chat thread here.



GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The one constant in Florida’s 2012 season -- until the Allstate Sugar Bowl, anyway -- was the Gators’ defense.

The unit was one of the nation’s best, ranking in the top five nationally in rushing, pass efficiency, and scoring, and it kept the Gators in games while the offense struggled.

Heading into the 2013 season, however, the defense has become as big an uncertainty as the offense in the wake of the departure of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the inexperience of replacement D.J. Durkin, and the loss of seven starters.

There were already significant questions about the unit because of the loss of those starters, which include All-American S Matt Elam, potential first-round NFL draft pick DT Sharrif Floyd, and a pair of players who played the best football of their careers during 2012 (NT Omar Hunter and S Josh Evans). Also gone is MLB Jon Bostic, who started 32 games in his career, including every game in 2011 and 2012.

But Quinn’s departure on Thursday to become the defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks muddies things even more. Quinn’s defenses ranked among the top 10 nationally in his two seasons at Florida. The Gators were fifth nationally in scoring (15.4 ppg), second in pass efficiency defense, and fourth in rush defense (94.9 ypg), and gave up only seven passing touchdowns, which was second only to Boise State (four), in 2012. In 2011, the Gators ranked eighth nationally in total defense, seventh nationally in passing defense, and second nationally in third-down defense.

His replacement, Durkin, has been UF’s linebackers coach and special teams coordinator since 2010. He has never been a coordinator before. Quinn had only been one for one year (Hofstra in 2000), but he had spent the previous 10 seasons in the NFL before joining Muschamp’s inaugural staff. However, Durkin has done a good job coordinating UF’s special teams (the Gators rank 11th or better in three statistical categories) and after watching him for two seasons, Muschamp quickly promoted him to succeed Quinn.

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