Spring Forward: Receivers & Tight Ends

With spring practice starting on Wednesday we get to the final unit in our pre-spring breakdown of the Florida Gators offense and defense. We conclude with the receivers and tight ends with a player by player look at each and what may be expected from them this spring. The receivers have numbers for a change and the tight end numbers aren't bad either. Both have to get adjusted to a new offense.


Senior Quinton Dunbar is the leader of the receivers and is coming off a pretty good season. He didn't put the ball in the end zone at all last year after doing so four times in 2012, but he did amass 548 receiving yards and has a career total of 1,147.

Dunbar has shown some speed that he didn't seem to have in his first year or two on campus and has always been able to make the big catch. Look for him to be the beneficiary of a coordinator that likes to throw the fade route and the passes that are designed to stay away from defenders at the sideline. The numbers mean competition for Dunbar, but I expect him to maintain as the top receiving threat on the team.

Dunbar Senior Andre Debose is back for his sixth season after missing the entire 2013 season due to an injury suffered in August. He was supposed to be a huge asset last year with his speed to go deep and the Gators will look for him again to be that guy as he will be good to go in the latter part of spring practices.

In somewhat of a mirror image of Dunbar, Debose caught four long touchdown balls in 2011 and caught none in 2012. It has been an issue in the past to get him on the field from not learning things, but Debose has been a different person since the spring of 2013 and they are going to expect a lot out of him both on offense and as a return specialist.

Junior Latroy Pittman got off to a rocky start in 2013 after being suspended for the first three games. He stayed in the dog house for most of the year and ended up with just two catches for 18 yards. Before the suspension, he was expected to make an impact and was listed as a starter coming out of spring ball in 2013.

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Pittman is a possession type big/ thick receiver and should play a lot in the slot position. He has the ability to really make the tough catch and really owns the ball when it is in the air. Junior Valdez Showers could be a welcome surprise. He was moved to receiver in fall practice a year ago, but kind of split his offense with 102 yards rushing and 103 yards receiving on the year. Showers has exceptional speed and could be a real deep threat for the receivers.

Junior Raph Andrades played a lot as a freshman and not as much a year ago. We have yet to see what Andrades can do given the chance, and maybe we will see some of that this spring. We know he can block well on the outside, but he wasn't given a scholarship at Florida just for that.

After catching just one pass in his first five games of the year last year, sophomore receiver Ahmad Fulwood finished with 17 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown a freshman. These numbers would have likely been higher with a passing game that wasn't so inept. Expect Fulwood to make huge leaps this year and this spring. He's a huge target, standing 6-foot-4 and weighting about 210 pounds now. He is a long strider that can break a long one if in the open field.

The guy they have to get the ball to is sophomore Demarcus Robinson. Robinson was slow to learn the offense in 2013, but not getting him the ball was maybe the biggest frustration for Will Muschamp and the pitiful offense a year ago. There is no doubt he is the best play maker in the group, and they will find ways to get the ball in his hands.


Speedy sophomore Chris Thompson is a staff favorite because of his speed and his relentless effort. He played in seven games last year with only two catches for 13 yards, but his speed is an attribute they just don't have much of and something they have to utilize.

Redshirt freshman Alvin Bailey will get a hard look in the slot. The agile and quick Bailey almost saw the field last year but certainly will in 2014 as the Gators move to more of a spread out look. A quarterback in high school, expect Bailey to catch on quick this spring.

The mystery man is redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins. Hawkins is a very physical receiver with very good speed. He's more of a straight line runner so that would seem to put him on the outside. This could be a huge spring for Hawkins and his Gator future.


Seniors Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook are solid players, but we aren't going to see too much of the spectacular from either of them. They are built more for the previous Florida offense, and not so much for the new, spread offense that the Gators will show this season. I still believe one of them will start the year, but their influence overall won't be as much as it could have been in the previous offense.

Sophomore Colin Thompson will miss the spring with an injury to his foot. Thompson now has issues with the middle of both feet and the prognosis for recovery isn't all that promising. They will continue monitoring and finalize a plan for him later this year.

All eyes will be on true freshman DeAndre Goolsby. The Derby, Kansas native finished high school early and enrolled in January. He is a great fit for the flexed out tight end position the Gators will show in the Kurt Roper offense. With over 600 receiving yards as a high school senior, he has shown the ability to make plays. This is just what the doctor ordered.

The Bottom Line: The best thing the Gators have going for them right now is more competition. The number of returnees was low in 2013 so the competition wasn't really there. With 10 receivers and three tight ends in the mix this spring, there is a ton of competition and they will be working hard for a new offensive coordinator.

Florida has to find a way to get some speed on the field. They have some of that now in Dunbar, Debose, Showers, Thompson, Robinson, and even Fulwood, and then Goolsby at tight end. Big plays have been missing from this offense and speed is the best way to make that happen.

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