Florida Gators: position review

Editor’s note: Twice a week through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. Today is the final installment, quarterback.

QUARTERBACK

Two-deep: Junior Jeff Driskel is the unquestioned starter heading into the 2013 season. Redshirt junior Tyler Murphy, who has only appeared in three games and never thrown a pass, is the backup.

[+] EnlargeMax Staver
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comIncoming freshman Max Staver joins a Florida QB corps that's light on experience behind Jeff Driskel.
Next up: Redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg is the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster.

High-profile commits: Max Staver (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), whom ESPN ranks as the No. 19 pocket passer, is the only quarterback commit the Gators have right now.

Additional targets: UF has made a late push for junior college QB Tanner McEvoy (Hillsdale, N.J./Arizona Western College), who is scheduled to visit Florida this weekend.

Looking into 2013: This is a big offseason for Driskel, who threw for 1,646 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions as his first season as the Gators’ starter. Now that he’s not competing for the starting job he can get the majority of the first-team reps. He needs to use that time to improve his footwork and accuracy and stop holding onto the ball as long. Those are issues with which most young quarterbacks struggle, so he’s not behind in his development. It’s also imperative that Driskel avoid injury because the Gators don’t have a quarterback on the roster who will have thrown a collegiate pass. That’s why UF is going after McEvoy. He at least has some game experience and likely would be the player the Gators turned to if Driskel were unable to play for whatever reason.

GatorNation position breakdown: K/P 

January, 28, 2013
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Editor’s note: Twice a week through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. Today is kicker and punter. We will profile quarterback on Thursday.

KICKER/PUNTER

Two-deep: Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin and senior Brad Phillips will battle throughout spring and preseason practice to be the starting kicker. Junior Kyle Christy will be the Gators’ punter.
Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, GatorNation will break down each position. We’ll look at 2013, of course, but also try to peek beyond next season. Today is wide receiver. We will profile running backs Tuesday.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Two-deep: This is without question the Gators’ weakest position. The group has been below average for three seasons. Redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar, who has 50 career catches, and redshirt senior Andre Debose, a career underachiever with 29 career catches, are the two most experienced players and would likely be the starters if the season started today. Debose is supremely talented but has been hampered by work ethic, attitude and consistency issues throughout his career. Senior Solomon Patton (eight career catches) and sophomore Latroy Pittman (two catches in 2012) would be the backups.

Next up: Sophomore Raphael Andrades, who caught two passes last season, and freshman early enrollee Demarcus Robinson will have every chance to move up the depth chart in the spring. Next to Debose, Robinson is the most talented receiver on the roster.

(Read full post)

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.

GatorNation position breakdown: G/C 

January, 10, 2013
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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 guard/center. We will profile tight end on Jan. 15.

GUARD/CENTER

[+] EnlargeJon Halapio
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackGuard Jon Halapio has been UF's most consistent lineman for the last three seasons.
Two-deep: With the graduation of sixth-year senior James Wilson, redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker and redshirt junior Max Garcia will compete for the starting job at left guard. Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio will return as starters at center and right guard, respectively. Both will be redshirt seniors. Redshirt senior Kyle Koehne and Ian Silberman, provided his shoulder injury is healed, are the reserves.

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GatorNation position breakdown: OT 

January, 8, 2013
1/08/13
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 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 offensive tackle. We will profile center/guard on Jan. 10.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

[+] EnlargeTyler Moore
Brad Barr/US PresswireTyler Moore, who set a Nebraska record with four starts on the offensive line as a true freshman, is expected to compete for a starting tackle position as a sophomore transfer.
Two-deep: With the graduation of Xavier Nixon, sophomore D.J. Humphries will step into the starting spot at left tackle. He’ll be pushed by junior college behemoth Trenton Brown (6-foot-8, 350 pounds), who is scheduled to enroll early. Chaz Green likely will hold on to his starting job at right tackle, but he’ll have to hold off Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore, who sat out the 2012 season and also is scheduled to enroll early.

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GatorNation position breakdown: S 

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
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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 safety. We will profile offensive tackle on Jan. 8.

SAFETY

Matt Elam
Kim Klement/US PresswireAfter three productive seasons at Florida, safety Matt Elam is moving on to the NFL.
Two-deep: Junior Matt Elam and senior Josh Evans have started every game this season and played their best football. Elam had a team-high four interceptions to go along with five pass breakups and 65 tackles and was named a first-team All-American. He made perhaps the season’s most important play when he stripped LSU WR Odell Beckham after a long gain. Evans is the team’s leading tackler (79) and was the Gators’ most improved player. Behind those two are junior Jaylen Watkins, who is a starting cornerback, and sophomore Jabari Gorman.

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GatorNation position breakdown: CB 

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
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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 cornerback. We will profile safeties on Jan. 3.

CORNERBACK

Two-deep: The Gators have a three-man rotation of sophomore Marcus Roberson, junior Jaylen Watkins and sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy. Freshman Brian Poole has gotten more playing time as the season has progressed. That likely wouldn’t have happened, however, had junior Cody Riggs not missed the final 10 games of the season with a broken bone in his foot. Roberson leads the team with 12 pass breakups and had two interceptions. Watkins has three interceptions and eight pass breakups, while Purifoy has five pass breakups and three forced fumbles.

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GatorNation position breakdown: ILB 

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
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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 inside linebacker. We will profile cornerbacks on Jan. 1.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

Jonathan Bostic
Kim Klement/US PresswireMiddle linebacker Jon Bostic has played a major role on Florida's defense for four seasons.
Two-deep: Senior Jon Bostic is the starter and he is backed up by redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor. Bostic has started 25 consecutive games and is third on the team with 62 tackles. He also has 3.0 sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Taylor has 29 tackles and 1.0 sack.

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GatorNation position breakdown: OLB 

December, 25, 2012
12/25/12
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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 outside linebacker. We will profile inside linebacker on Thursday.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

[+] EnlargeJelani Jenkins
Kim Klement/US PresswireAfter suffering through an injury-plagued junior year, Jelani Jenkins could be the Gators' defensive leader in 2013.
Two-deep: Redshirt sophomore Neiron Ball is the starter at strongside linebacker and is backed up by junior Darrin Kitchens. Freshman Antonio Morrison is the starter at weakside linebacker and is backed up by redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor. Redshirt junior Jelani Jenkins is the normal starter at weakside linebacker but he recently underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot and will miss the bowl game.

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Jeff Barlis, Derek Tyson, and Mike DiRocco sit down to discuss the future of the Florida Gators' linebacking corps.

GatorNation position breakdown: DT 

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 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 defensive tackle. We will profile outside linebacker on Tuesday.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Two-deep: Redshirt senior Omar Hunter (39 tackles) is the starter at nose tackle and junior Sharrif Floyd (41 tackles, six QB hurries) is the starter at defensive tackle. Redshirt sophomore Leon Orr (13 tackles) backs up Hunter, while junior Damien Jacobs (nine tackles) backs up Floyd. In addition to losing Hunter to graduation, the Gators likely won’t have Floyd next season. He’s considering leaving early for the NFL.

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GatorNation position breakdown: DE 

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
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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 defensive end. Thursday will be defensive tackle.

DEFENSIVE END

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger, Dominique Easley
Jake Roth/US PresswireFlorida's depth at defensive end will be impacted by the NFL draft decision of junior Dominique Easley.
Two-deep: Dominique Easley is the starter at end and Lerentee McCray is the starter at the buck (end/linebacker hybrid). Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler are the reserves. McCray graduates. Easley is a junior but could leave early for the NFL.

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GatorNation roundtable review: DL

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
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Jeff Barlis, Derek Tyson, and Mike DiRocco sit down to discuss the future of the Florida Gators’ defensive end and defensive tackle positions.

Jeff Barlis, Derek Tyson, and Mike DiRocco sit down to discuss the future of the Florida Gators at tight end and wide receiver.

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