Sophomore receivers adding depth

Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton provided most of the playmaking for the Gators at receiver last season, but there wasn't much depth behind them. This spring showed that things will change during the 2014 season. Florida's trio of sophomore receivers will all be heavily involved in Kurt Roper's new offense.

They showed signs of it for the Florida offense last season.

Ahmad Fulwood was the most productive last season, finishing his freshman year with 17 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown on a circus catch against Vanderbilt. Demarcus Robinson caught five passes for 23 yards and Chris Thompson caught two passes for 13 yards.

All three needed to improve on or off the field this spring, and Saturday showed that the necessary improvement occurred.

Fulwood caught four passes for 32 yards. Robinson caught three passes for 45 yards and one touchdown on a 31-yard play where he took a drag route to the end zone. Thompson caught four passes for 37 yards and one touchdown.

"It's a huge part for our receiving corps because we lost Trey Burton and (Solomon Patton), and those are two great players," Fulwood said. "We understand that we have to step up, and we have to make forward movement in our play. We're working hard, we're taking those first team reps, so we're just doing a really good job with it."

They've downplayed specific expectations or statistics they want to put up as a class, but the three sophomores have spent time talking about what they want out of this season. All three got a taste of it last season, but different issues kept the trio from having a big impact during the 2013 season.

They won't be counted on to lead the receiver position -- that's Quinton Dunbar's role -- but they'll provide the extra depth needed at the position. Saturday's spring game also found eight scholarship receivers catching passes, a trend that could become more prevalent this season.

"It's going to keep our receivers fresh, and we're going to be keep making plays throughout the whole game," Thompson said.

The knowledge of the offense has also helped the three receivers. They've put in extra time to learn what Kurt Roper wants out of his offense, helping them gain a better understanding of what's expected from them.

At times, that was an issue last season. Robinson was suspended twice and had to mature off the field. Fulwood said earlier this spring that Robinson has changed and become more mature and able to be a contributor on the team. For Thompson, it came down to proving he was more than just a speed receiver. His offseason improvement was easy to see throughout the spring.

Even after only 15 practices to work on Roper's offense, the sophomores are confident the offense is ready to make an impact this fall.

"It's definitely a sample of what we're going to do," Fulwood said. "It's no huddles, speed, tempo -- that's what we embark on. That's just what we're going to do. That's how we're going to show up when it comes to game day. You're not going to get anything less."

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