2008 Class Is Not Pulling Its Weight

The Gator football team has 18 seniors --- both fourth and fifth year --- on scholarship that are soon to depart the program and the majority of the playing time that hasn't gone to seniors had gone to first and second year players. The result is a gap in the middle.

A gap that has keep unproductive seniors form losing their jobs. A gap that has limited the competition for playing time. A gap that forced some youngsters to get more playing time than you would ideally want to see.

That "gap" is the 2008 signing class.

Traditionally your best players on a college football team are third and fourth year guys. Sure you'll have a Percy Harvin or a Tim Tebow on occasion, but the best teams have more experienced players leading the way. For the Gators, the third year players have not played their part in the scheme. I break the 2008 class of 21 players into four categories. The Gators actually signed 22 that year, but Dee Finley didn't come in until 2009.

Significant contributors (5) ---- By this stage you would expect at least half the class to be in this category and ideally more than that. Florida cannot complain about Janoris Jenkins, Jeff Demps, Omarius Hines, Omar Hunter and Frankie Hammond. Jenkins is a great player while the others have all become solid starters and Hammond and Hines are probably Florida's best all around receivers.

Contributors (4) ---- This is another area where you would expect more players, especially when you consider how few guys made the higher category. Some may put Will Hill in the higher category but his lack of productivity places him here in my mind. William Green, Jeremy Brown and Carl Moore have also done some good things, but not nearly enough.

On the team (7) ---- This category speaks volumes in that there are more players from this class who have done little to nothing on the field in three years then there are who have made significant contributions. There's still time for this group, but not a lot of reason to be confident it will happen. Caleb Sturgis has done the most, but with mixed results. Sam Robey, David Young and Matt Patchan will have a chance to compete for playing time on the offensive line next year and Lerentee McCray and Earl Okine will get a look on the other line of scrimmage. T.J. Pridemore will have to compete at FB with Steven Wilks and incoming freshman Hunter Joyer.

Long Gone (5) ---- The same number of significant contributors as guys who are gone is a bad match, too. Brendan Beal, Adrian Bushell, Troy Epps, Bryan Jones and T.J. Lawrence accomplished little in the short time they were in Gainesville.

So there you have the class of 2008. A class that should have had 10-12 guys among the top 25-30 players on the team had just five or six instead. That's a significant void at the top of the depth chart and a major factor in the Gators 7-5 record this season.

In case you are wondering, the 2009 class already has more significant contributors --- Jon Bostic, Andre Debose, Mike Gillislee, Jelani Jenkins, Xavier Nixon and Jordan Reed --- than the class of 2008. And the class of 2010 --- Trey Burton, Robert Clark, Matt Elam, Sharif Floyd and Ronald Powell --- has already matched the '08 group in that area.

It may bode well for the future, but Florida will have a small and relatively insignificant senior class in 2011.

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