Spring Preview: The Secondary

It is a mixed bunch in the secondary this spring for the Florida Gators. No new freshmen in the mix and so everyone is back and pretty much knows what they are doing in the Muschamp defense. Defensive back Travaris Robinson is set at cornerback with probably the most talented group in the country, but he has to find some answers at safety.

Here is a pre-Spring look at the Florida secondary.


Robinson returns everyone that played a down at cornerback a year ago and even one more as one redshirted a year ago due to injury. Here is what we are looking at.

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

A couple of things we have to consider here and especially this spring is the lack of numbers at safety and the fact that the staff will want to get the best players on the field, even if that means moving positions.

Right now, you would have to consider the three front runners at cornerback to be Watkins, Purifoy, and Roberson. All three played extensively a year ago and until the bowl game with Louisville, all three played very well the entire season.

A move that has a good chance of happening is Watkins to nickel and the Gators play a lot of nickel, and so I believe between he and Poole, they will dominate the nickel position in 2013.

With Roberson and Purifoy you have two of the most physical and athletic cornerbacks in America. They play their best when they are on the ball and at the line of scrimmage bumping and running with receivers. Purifoy shows his physicality on special teams as well and because of the expertise he displays on cover teams he finished the season with 51 tackles. On defense he had five passes defensed and had three forced fumbles. Roberson finished with 23 tackles, two interceptions, and finished second in the SEC with 12 passes defensed on the season.

Purifoy has a chance to be very special

Watkins is also physical, when he is allowed to play at cornerback. His versatility is probably the highest of the entire group and you could line him up anywhere in the secondary. Watkins had 39 tackles on the season in 2012, three interceptions and finished third in the SEC in passes defensed with eight.

Brown is more of an off-style of player preferring to play off of his man and make a play on the ball when in the air. He returned last season late after a long time off from injury, but is expected to compete for the top spots and plans on doing just that. Brown finished with five total tackles in 2012.

Riggs red-shirted a year ago due to injury but should be good to go this spring. He is also a physical player in style, but a little more limited because of his size. Still, he has tools to be a really good one and has shown in the past and will also compete. Against smaller slot players, he may be the ideal person to play at nickel and has played the position before.

Poole is also very physical and could very well play at safety this year simply due to numbers. I think he is a corner in 2014, but believe safety is a position he could play well and thrive and even start. He played in 2012, but sparingly and totaled three tackles on the season.


With all the experience and knowhow Robinson returns at corner, there are that many questions at safety. The top three guys have moved on and starters Josh Evans and Matt Elam will be playing in the NFL next year. Pop Saunders was dismissed from the team in the offseason. Robinson will be looking for some answers in the middle of his secondary and starting this spring.

We talked about the possible move of Poole and/ or Watkins. But the spring will be a good fight between these four guys at both positions.

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

Watkins has probably spent more time at the safety position than anyone else listed here. Second, would likely be Gorman. Gorman may not be the proto-type physically that you are looking for, but he has the made the most of it when called to appear on the field. He's quick and instinctual, two things you look for in a safety. In his limited time on the field a year ago he finished with two tackles, a pass break up, a fumble recovery, and an interception.

Gorman has a great shot at cracking the starting lineup in 2013.

Showers played in 11 games a year ago, but mostly on special teams. He is athletic and stout physically. He should get a good go at it this spring and has as good a shot as anyone to start at the safety position.

Ledbetter and Maye both red-shirted a year ago. The two are compliments of each other and it appears that Ledbetter is more of the strong safety type that you want to play in the box on defense and Maye is the free safety type that has a little more speed and quick thinker that you need at free safety. Both have ideal size to play at safety and it appears that Maye is farther ahead to see the field at this point in time. Don't count anyone out here though.

Muschamp will work a lot in the secondary this spring.

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