There weren't many doubts who was going with Florida coach Will Muschamp last season. Quarterback Jeff Driskel, coming off leading the team to a Sugar Bowl appearance, made the trip to Hoover along with senior offensive lineman Jon Halapio. The Florida defense was represented by its heart and soul Dominique Easley.
The trio sums up what happened during Florida's four-win season last year. Driskel got hurt in the first half of the third game of the season and Easley played only three games in 2014. Halapio's torn pec kept him off the field for the first two games of the season, and even when he returned, he played through serious pain. None of the three were able to go through an entire season on the field.
This season, the Gators need some better luck with their upperclassmen leaders. But who will be the ones that represent the program in Hoover? Let's go through some of the likely candidates. Keep in mind that Muschamp has generally preferred taking his veterans with him.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel- Heading into his third season as the starting quarterback, the redshirt junior is safely a lock to make the trip to Hoover. He faced the media insanity on the first two floors of The Wynfrey Hotel for the first time last year and handled himself well. He's a good fit for the environment. SEC Media Days brings an exhaustive day for players, being pulled in and out of various rooms and asked some of the most random questions they'll ever here.
Driskel's fun-loving personality fits it well. The Gators have brought other players that were reserved and quiet, making the day somewhat awkward in interview settings. Driskel isn't that way and is a virtual lock to see Hoover again this year as the face of Kurt Roper's new offense.
Wide receiver Quinton Dunbar- A fifth-year receiver, Dunbar is the safest bet to lead Florida in receiving yards this year. He's also experienced and has been through the media circuit in recent years. Expect most of the talk about Florida in Hoover to be centered on Roper's offense, and bringing a receiver would certainly create conversation about it.
Offensive lineman Max Garcia- When you think of personalities that fit this event, Garcia is perfect. He's as jovial as any Florida player since I started covering the team in 2006. Players love him, fans love him, and important for this event, media loves talking to him. He's insightful and genuinely enjoys his time at Florida.
It's hard to come up with a Florida sporting event that he hasn't been to since transferring from Maryland. His personality is exactly what SEC Media Days needs, and with the focus on the Florida offense, I think it makes a lot of sense to bring him.
Defensive end Dante Fowler- As much as Driskel feels like a lock to make the trip to Hoover, Fowler does, too. Players this talented just have to go, especially heading into their first draft eligible season. Fowler anchors the Florida defensive line and is set for a breakout season.
After a strong but inconsistent 2013 season, the Florida coaches challenged Fowler to work consistently to reach his potential. That message sunk in with a strong spring. He might be soft spoken in a press conference setting, but the defensive end is always happy and has the personality to thrive in that environment. And there's always a chance the Chucky doll makes an appearance in Hoover.
Linebacker Michael Taylor- The vocal leader of the linebackers, Taylor is always a favorite in press conferences. He's insightful and knowledgeable while explains strengths or weaknesses of the Florida defense, but he doesn't take himself too seriously, like the time he explained his fear of running into a bear in the woods. There might be better players on the Florida roster that could make the trip to Hoover, but Taylor would certainly make it entertaining.
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves- This would go against the track record of players heading to Hoover since Muschamp took over. The Gators haven't brought a sophomore to SEC Media Days under Muschamp, but frankly, they also haven't had someone put up a freshman season the quality of Hargreaves in the last three years. He isn't the most comfortable with the media since freshmen aren't allowed to talk in any press conference at Florida, but his talent alone could be deserving of a trip to Hoover.
PREDICTION: Driskel, Garcia and Fowler.