The options to take over the kickoff returner job are interesting. Loucheiz Purifoy took some turns last season, averaging 23.9 yards on seven returns with a long of 29 yards. The only other returning Florida player that returned a kick for the Gators last season was Trey Burton.
Purifoy saw time as the kick returner last yearPurifoy seems like the logical case to take the job, but his role will already be bigger during the 2013 season. He'll be trusted at cornerback and is expected to have an increased role at wide receiver. He also excels as a gunner on the punt coverage unit. The Florida coaching staff could elect to give him some rest by keeping him off kickoff return duties.
If it's not Purifoy, there are other candidates on the roster. Solomon Patton didn't return a kick in 2012, but he returned 10 kicks in 2011 for an average of 24.1 yards.
The freshman class also has a chance to make an impact. Armwood High School graduate Alvin Bailey seems like the most likely candidate of the group. The 5-11, 182-pound receiver is set to play in the slot for the Gators, and his quickness and elusiveness could translate to the kickoff returner job.
Debose also returned 10 punts last season, but there seems to be a clearer answer at that position. Florida head coach Will Muschamp was asked on Friday if Debose would be involved in the punt returner battle, and he downplayed it, adding that Marcus Roberson "did a really good job" after taking over the punt returner duties last season. Roberson seems locked into the job in 2013 and could even be tried as the punt returner.
At wide receiver, Debose caught just three passes for 15 yards last season, including not catching a pass in the first four games of the year. The hype was starting to build from his improvement in fall camp, and he would have been on the field at receiver likely more than any other year of his Florida career.
Redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar will be the most trusted receiver of the group. Senior Solomon Patton is back at full strength after breaking his arm against Georgia last year, but he will still be trusted mostly on end arounds and throws close to the line of scrimmage. Debose was supposed to line up on the opposite side of the field form Dunbar and serve as a deep threat.
Dunbar needs to step upThe Gators now search for one, and there aren't many returning candidates to fill that role. Purifoy could see extended time on offense now that there is even more of a need, but his best side remains on defense.
The only other returning candidates on the roster are sophomores -- Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease didn't have glowing reviews of their early camp performance on Wednesday.
"I don't know if frustrated is the right word as much as I don't think they've stepped forward," Pease said. "In the same sense, I don't know if they've had that opportunity yet. Just kind of how we've kind of placed them in repetitions."
The Gators will have to lean on freshmen this year, whether they wanted to or not. Florida added five freshmen receivers in the 2013 recruiting class -- Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fulwood, Marqui Hawkins, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson.
The best fits to take over for Debose are Fulwood, Hawkins or Robinson. Fulwood has drawn rave reviews from upperclassmen for his 6-5 frame and deceptive downfield speed. Robinson, the only one of the five who went through spring practice, seems like the best candidate to see playing time immediately this year.