WHY HE'S HERE: Marcell Harris was one of the most heavily recruited safety prospects in the country last season, ending the year as the No. 11 safety in the nation and a four-star prospect. The appeal to Harris is his size. The 6-2, 220-pound safety moves well enough to start his college career at safety with the possibility of a move to linebacker in the future.Harris enrolled at Florida in mid-May and has been going through the weight program and on campus since then. He chose the Gators over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
PATH TO PLAYING TIME: For the first time in program history, the Gators had both of their safeties drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. Matt Elam left school early and was a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens, and Josh Evans was a sixth round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.The strong secondary play was anchored by having Elam and Evans in the back as the safety net. As they both start their professional careers this fall, the Gators will trying to rebuild at the position. The first move came in sending senior cornerback Jaylen Watkins to play safety. Florida head coach Will Muschamp experimented with it in the spring and said he expects Watkins to open fall camp at safety.
As long as that holds, the Gators will be looking for a player to start with him. Sophomore Jabari Gorman had a strong spring that will put him in contention, along with redshirt freshman Marcus Maye.
If Gorman and Maye can't win the job, it'll come down to the freshmen. Harris has the build to get on the field early and has spent plenty of time in Gainesville since committing to Florida, continuing to learn and study the defense. Physical maturity won't keep Harris off the field, and with his extra time on campus in Gainesville learning the scheme, he could force his way onto the field early in the fall.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Muschamp and the Florida staff will likely keep things quiet about the safety battle in the fall, but if history has shown any pattern, don't expect Harris to get much public love right away. It might take him some time to get used to the speed of a college practice when fall camp opens, and practices will likely open with some of the upperclassmen players higher on the depth chart.Harris will play immediately, whether it's at safety or on special teams. He might not earn the starting spot right out of fall camp, but don't be surprised if that happens at some point during the 2013 season.