In the backfield, the gators lose their two most productive players in graduating seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Senior-to-be Mike Gillislee will get most of the snaps at the position and sophomore Mack Brown will be right behind him. Expect junior multi-tasker Trey Burton to get some snaps and maybe someone else to get some time as well. Sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer should improve on a pretty good freshman year.
At receiver, the Gators lose one in Deonte Thompson, but gain one in Citra North Marion's Latroy Pittman. Seniors Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines will battle with junior Andre Debose and sophomore Quinton Dunbar as prime candidates to play at the position in 2012. The staff should be looking hard at juniors Stephen Alli and Solomon Patton as well as redshirt freshman JaJuan Story to see what they can add.
The Gator tight ends seemed to come on late in the year and both are returning. Junior Jordan Reed and sophomore A.C. Leonard are a good combo to have on hand and et familiar with the new offensive coordinator.
On the offensive line it is out with graduating seniors James Wilson and Dan Wenger along with junior David Young who's knees finally made it too much for him to continue football. Of the three, Wenger played most of the year and had the most experience to lose. In their place and coming in fresh are five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and four-stare guard Jessamen Dunker, both will work immediately for playing time as freshmen early enrollees.
Starters returning include junior guard Jon Halapio, junior center Jonotthan Harrison, and pick two out of the three tackles in senior Xavier Nixon, junior Matt Patchan, and sophomore Chaz Green. Junior tackle Kyle Koehne should push that group as well. Senior Sam Robey will be working behind Harrison in hopes of pushing him at center. Junior Nick Alajajian could play any spot on the line. Sophomore Ian Silberman will try and reestablish himself at guard again. Redshirt freshmen Trip Thurman and Tommy Jordan will both be recovering from shoulder surgery but expected to compete at guard in the spring.
On the defensive line, the Gators lose two and have one new one coming in this spring to help. Gone are senior tackle Jaye Howard and end William Green. Howard started whenever he was healthy all year. Green started in the Gator Bowl. Junior college transfer Damien Jacobs is a mid-year enrollee and will compete this spring at defensive tackle.
It is a little thin as usual along the defensive line as the BUCK position will be manned by junior starter Ronald Powell and junior Kedric Johnson. At the end position with the movement of junior Sharrif Floyd inside, senior Earl Okine, sophomore Tevin Westbrook, and redshirt freshman Clay Burton will be working at the spot.
When Floyd moves inside, he will probably play next to senior Omar Hunter and they will be backed up by the aforementioned Damien Jacobs and sophomore Leon Orr while junior Dominique Easley mends from knee surgery.
The Gators return every linebacker on roster from last year and add middle linebacker Antonio Morrison to the mix in the spring after he enrolled early from high school. Morrison should back up senior Jon Bostic in the middle and be in the mix with sophomores Michael Taylor and Graham Stewart.
Barring movement, the WILL linebacker spot this spring could only have two players at the position. Junior starter Jelani Jenkins returns and will be backed up by sophomore Chris Johnson who played well on special teams in 2011.
Safety returns everyone, but is thin. Junior starter Matt Elam was a leader on the defense with his play in 2011 and senior Josh Evans had some bright moments. Sophomore Pop Saunders is the starting nickel in that five DB package. Sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers are the only backups.
At cornerback the Gators lose one senior to graduation in Moses Jenkins, but gain the early enrollee presence of Willie Bailey from Hallandale. Sophomore Starter Marcus Roberson should start on one side this spring if he has recovered from surgery. Juniors Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins should fight for the other spot along with junior Jeremy Brown if he is finally healthy from injury. Sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy played great on special teams all year and was thrust into heavy duty in the bowl game and will be pushing the others ahead of him as well.
Usually spring time means a light roster that the staff isn't used to. This time around, the Gators will only have four less players on hand in the spring than they did at the end of the 2011 season.