Projecting Impact Freshmen on Offense

If you had to pick a place to add impact freshmen on the roster at Florida you would likely choose the offense. Despite some big time players missing from the defensive line up from the 2012 season, the Florida offense is in some serious need of some play makers. With that in mind, Florida signed seven players at receiver and running back in 2013 and every one of them has to be given a look.

All-SEC running back Mike Gillislee is off to the NFL now and the Gators have to find replacement yardage for the first 1,000 yard rusher at Florida since 2004. Matt Jones returns and will no doubt be the starter but 2013 signees Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane should get their chance to make a move.

Taylor is the son of Gator Great running back Fred Taylor and a big time prospect from the 2013 class. He had a terrific spring as an early enrollee and is as natural a runner as there is on the roster. Getting blocking schemes down and his route running are things they knew would be new to him when he arrived and he has to work on those a bit.

"A very talented runner,'' Florida head coach Will Muschamp said of Taylor shortly after the final spring scrimmage of the year. "Some positions are easier than others to contribute as a freshman, and that's a natural-instinct position. Get the guy the ball and let his natural instincts take over and run for daylight. And he can do that. It's the other things we've got to brush up on."


Taylor

Florida defenders are well aware of his talent as he displayed all spring.

"He has the best cut-back probably in the backfield,'' Florida safety Jaylen Watkins said. "He can stop on a dime. He made a lot of good moves today. He is tough. When he gets hit, he gets right back up. He is just trying to learn, that's what I like about him."

While Taylor will most definitely play a key role this year if he is healthy, the likelihood of lane to do the same is pretty high as well. He is farther behind than Taylor because he wasn't here in the spring, but don't underestimate Lane's ability and as the guy the staff first wanted at the position in the 2013 class and took as the first commitment in the class. Muschamp will play the best players.

"My track record speaks for itself," the head man told a crowd in Lakeland earlier in the month. "In my first year at the University of Florida, Marcus Roberson and Pop Saunders both started. At LSU in our national championship year and a freshman in LaRon Landry started at free safety. Guys that are good enough at their position will start or play.


Lane

"Adam is a guy that will have every opportunity in the world to step in and help us. It will be up to him. I sit in the living room of every high school recruit that we have a possibility of signing at Florida. They all ask the same question, ‘When am I going to play?'. I always tell them ‘That is up to you. You will have the opportunity. If you are the best at your position, you will start. If you are one of the best, you will play. At the end of the day I don't care how many stars you had or who rated you the best in the country, it really comes back to what our coaches' opinions are of you and where you can help your football team. If you are one of the best at your position you will have every opportunity.'"

At tight end, the lone freshman that is likely to see a significant amount of time is red-shirt Colin Thompson. Thompson came to UF last year as the second ranked tight end nationally in the class of 2012. He was joined by the top player at his position in Kent Taylor. Thompson missed the year with a broken foot that had a re-break during the season.


Colin Thompson

After still recuperating through the spring, he was somewhat limited. However, Thompson has a better set of overall tools than any at the position on the roster. He is fast on his way to 100% now and will have been fully healthy for months when practice starts in August. His work ethic is at a high level and so he should get plenty of chances to impress and I expect him to.

At receiver, the Gators are looking for some game changers. The talent at6 the position has been down for a few years now, but the staff signed five players in hopes of finding a few gems. The first one most likely to make a difference is the lone guy that made it in this spring early.

Demarcus Robinson is a 6-2, 205 pound beast of a receiver and was already turning heads in his first spring on practice. When the ball is in the air, he is already the most physical guy at the position that wants to go up and own it. Robinson still is swimming in the playbook, so he may be limited early on, but they want to keep pushing him to make a difference early.


Robinson

Ahmad Fulwood has to be the second guy to look at. He's all of 6-4 and can carry 210 pound easily. He has tremendous top end speed and pretty good athletic ability. He needs to be a little more physical, but Fulwood's intelligence will likely earn him a spot on the field early at Florida.


Fulwood

The next two guys I am going to group together because of similar traits. Both are smaller and faster receivers, the staff was really trying to add some speed to the roster on offense. Alvin Bailey and Chris Thompson are electric with the ball in their hands.

I have to give Bailey the slight nod at the moment. He comes in with his experience as a quarterback and with the ball in his hand to make plays much more often. Thompson is the fastest signee in the class and that certainly amounts to something. They both need to add some size to their frames.


Bailey

Because of the sheer need at the position and because he is a terrific athlete, we can't forget Marquis Hawkins. The talented Peach State star has good size at 6-2, 190 and decent speed. He is also a very physical player. He's kind of the in-between guy of the whole crew.

On the offensive line, all could use a red-shirt, but I will mention one freshman as a possibility to play. The staff felt like they got a huge future star in offensive tackle Rod Johnson. The 6-6, 290 pounder is the prototype of what they are looking for at the position. However, with the addition of Tyler Moore, Max Garcia, and Trenton Brown as transfers from colleges or junior college, the instant talent influx will really be felt with those additions of older players.


Johnson

If Johnson is as good as they thought and can do it early, then he would get the chance to do his thing.

In the end, there aren't a lot of freshmen ready to make an impact on offense, except at running back and receiver. Five out of seven freshmen on offense played in their first year last year and it would have been six if Colin Thompson was healthy, so expect a good deal of the above to make it happen in 2013.


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