A Look Ahead: The Secondary

You could make the argument that the Florida secondary was the most improved unit in all of college football from the 2011 season. A unit that routinely gave up jump balls in dire situations a year ago turned into a ball hawking crew that was a huge team strength as the season went along. While the middle of the unit is more than likely to be totally replaced, it still will be strong in 2013.

Both starters are likely gone in the middle, but so much returns on the outside that the unit should be a real force. It doesn't hurt that the head coach is a former college safety himself and that these guys are being coached by assistant Travaris Robinson as well as anyone.

here is a quick look at what we see going on in 2013 with their classification (year in school) already changed for next year


Everyone that made a play in the 2012 season is back at corner. There were lots of plays made at the position. Junior-to-be Marcus Roberson finished second in the SEC in passes defended with 14. Senior-to-be Jaylen Watkins finished sixth with 1 PBU's. The Florida defense finished at the top of the pass efficiency defense stat in the SEC as well as leading the entire country. This group played extremely well and they are all back and then some. The Gators did lose freshman Willie Bailey to transfer. He showed up early in January and didn't see the field.

Returning Cornerbacks : Jaylen Watkins (6-0, 187, SR), Jeremy Brown (5-10, 184, SR), Loucheiz Purifoy (6-1, 189, JR), Marcus Roberson (6-0, 178, JR), Cody Riggs (5-9, 190, JR), Brian Poole (5-10, 206, SO).

The three headed monster of Watkins, Roberson, and Loucheiz Purifoy were able to match up with anyone they faced. The trio all has speed and length and play the game very physical. It was supposed to be a quartet out there on the field and junior-to-be Cody Riggs was supposed to battle before he went down with an injury that sidelined him for the entire season.

Purifoy is a relentless beast

Now Riggs is back Jeremy Brown should be healthy to start the year if he doesn't bypass his last season. Those are five corners with a lot of experience and know how to play in the Southeastern Conference. Brian Poole is sophomore that has drawn the coaches' praise from practice and was a highly touted prospect before he ever got to Florida. They expect him to be a big time player as well and we should see his production go up quite a bit in 2013.

Committed: Vernon Hargreaves III (5-11, 181, FR). Hargreaves is the number one ranked cornerback in the country and despite all the experience and numbers for the 2013 season, he will come in right away and compete for a spot in the rotation. He is a ball hawk as well and plays the game physically like the staff likes. He can also be a kick returner. Needs: Despite the numbers for the 2013 season, the Gators need and would like to sign at least one more corner besides Hargreaves. Brown and Watkins will definitely be gone after the season and there is a strong possibility that Purifoy and Roberson could leave early. Getting another quality player in here that can get some minutes and learn in 2013 is imperative.

Possibilities: Jalen Ramsey (6-0, 190) of Brentwood (TN) and Shaquille Wiggins (5-10, 160) of Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek.

Both are committed elsewhere. Ramsey is the teammate of Gator quarterback commitment Max Staver and they are good friends. He is committed to USC, but Staver has been working on him for a while. Ramsey is also a big time receiver talent and the gators need quality players there as well. Wiggins has been committed to Georgia for quite a while but there is a continuous flirtation between he and the Gators. Florida would take either in a heart beat.


It is totally different at the safety position. Senior Josh Evans had an all-conference type of year and the free safety likely earned a spot in the first half of the NFL draft and on a team next year. Senior-to-be Matt Elam is so likely to jump into the 2013 draft that I won't include him here in this listing. He is another that will go high in the draft and both of these guys are going to be two of the hardest to replace on the entire team. Also gone is Junior Pop Saunders, who will transfer after being in the doghouse for quite some time during his stay at Florida. Saunders is another talent that will be missed.

Returning Safeties: Jabari Gorman (5-10, 188, JR), Valdez Showers (5-11, 188, SO), Rhaheim Ledbetter (5-11, 206, R-FR), Marcus Maye (5-11, 203, R-FR).

The losses are big at safety and will be the hardest to replace, but the little time that Gorman and Showers have been on the field, they have produced and looked good. Both are excellent special teams players and the staff likes their hustle. They aren't primo size, but more play maker types than their predecessors.

Watkins (14) and Gorman (21) should play big roles in 2013.

Ledbetter and Maye both redshirted but came to Florida with big accolades and have done nothing to disappoint yet. They have more size than the others that have played and will likely be pressed hard this spring to make something happen and try and get on the field.

Committed: Marcell Harris (6-2, 210) of Orlando Dr. Phillips, Keanu Neal (6-0, 204) of Bushnell South Sumter, and Nick Washington (5-11, 170) of Jacksonville trinity Christian.

Size and play making ability abound in this trio of safeties about to join the Gators. All three are high school All-Americans and all have high football IQ's and will challenge immediately for playing time. Harris will have an upper-hand of sorts as he will come to Gainesville in January and join in the fracas. There isn't a better group of safeties signed anywhere than this one.

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