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COMMENTARY: After Bowl Bomb, A Look Ahead To 2013 For Gators Football

It has already happened, it is part of the world we live in.

The dust has barely settled on the 2012 Gators football season and already fans are wondering about 2013.    It is so early to look at things now because we don’t know the impact of incoming freshmen, injuries or perhaps more defections, but let’s take a look at the 2013 team.

We do know nearly 25 scholarship players are gone from last year’s team, and we know Florida could sign 30 or so players on National Signing Day next month.   Some players will also enroll early.  So, here goes.

QUARTERBACK- Jeff Driskel will enter his junior year as the unquestioned starter but he must improve his overall game.   He was a good player in 2012, but next season he must learn the nuances of playing the position, not holding the ball as long, not locking in on receivers and those kind of things.   Who is number two?   With the transfer of Jacoby Brissett, Tyler Murphy has the most experience but incoming freshman Max Staver and Skyler Mornhinweg will compete as well.

RUNNING BACK- Replacing senior Mike Gillislee and his 1,000 plus yards won’t be easy but Florida could become more explosive at the position if Matt Jones continues to progress; he looked good in backup duty this past season.   Incoming freshman Kelvin Taylor, junior Mack Brown and freshman Adam Lane will also get looks.  Hunter Joyer returns as fullback for his junior season and all everything senior Trey Burton also returns to play a number of positions.

WIDE RECEIVER- Florida desperately needs to find playmakers at this position.  With Frankie Hammond and sometime receiver Omarius Hines gone, senior Andre Debose, junior Quinton Dunbar, senior Solomon Patton and sophomore Latroy Pittman are the leading returners.   Florida hit this position hard in recruiting and freshmen like Ahmad Fullwood, Chris Thompson, and Demarcus Robinson may get to see the field very early if they can contribute and bring some explosiveness to this position.

TIGHT END- Replacing Jordan Reed who is leaving for the NFL Draft won’t be easy; he was UF’s leading receiver last year.   Junior Clay Burton as well as Kent Taylor could help but this could be a thin spot next year.

O LINE- Gone are seniors Xavier Nixon and James Wilson from a group that got better but that also showed inconsistency, especially in pass protection.   Senior Jonatthan Harrison, senior Jon Halapio and junior Chaz Green return as does senior Kyle Koehne who got some playing time.   Jessemen Dunker and D.J. Humphries lead a group of younger players who need to step up and the Gators also could get immediate help from JC transfer Trenton Brown and former Nebraska lineman Tyler Moore.  There are a lot of bodies here and the potential for a deep group is good.

D LINE- Gone is Sharrif Floyd to the NFL Draft and also gone are Omar Hunter and Earl Okine.   Florida got good news when junior Dominique Easley said he will return for his senior season.   Junior Leon Orr and senior Damien Jacobs also return inside.   Promising sophomores Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. provide a bright future outside and Florida is hoping for immediate help from early enrollee Darious Cummings, a JC transfer.  And, Ronald Powell returns to the Buck position after being hurt last year.  Depth must be rebuilt but there are bodies here to make it work.

LINEBACKER-Gone is graduating Jon Bostic and NFL departing Jelani Jenkins as well as graduating Lerentee McCray who came on during his senior season.   The starters look to be junior Neiron Ball along with junior Michael Taylor and sophomore Antonio Morrison.   Senior Darrin Kitchens leads a group that must provide some depth at this position and you could see a freshman get a shot for a backup spot here like Quinton Powell or Daniel McMillan.

DEFENSIVE BACK-Josh Evans graduates and playmaker Matt Elam leaves for the NFL but otherwise a lot of talent is back but that talent got exposed a bit in the bowl game loss.   Junior Loucheiz Purifoy is a top playmaker but will he stay on defense; he also played some on the other side of the ball.  Otherwise, senior Jaylen Watkins, junior Marcus Roberson, senior Cody Riggs and sophomore Valdez Showers provide a lot of depth at corner.   However, watch out for freshman Vernon Hargreaves III who could come in and earn a starting spot right away.   A lot of bodies are here with good depth but the safety spot is where the rebuilding must be done and sophomore Brian Poole and junior Jabari Gorman could see more time here as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS- Punter Kyle Christy returns for his junior season as one of the best in the country.   Gone is excellent placekicker Caleb Sturgis and who replaces him remains to be seen.

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