Breakout redshirt freshmen

The Gators stumbled through last season and won four games, but sitting on the sideline every Saturday were players that are set to make an impact this fall. Florida had a talented freshman class, even if the record doesn't make it look like that, and they didn't all get on the field. The redshirt freshmen are now ready to take the next step this fall.

Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick: The first team defensive line this year won't be a problem. The Florida coaches feel good about the first four or five defensive linemen, led by All-American candidate Dante Fowler. But what happens behind those four or five? That's the question, and it's what frustrated Florida coach Will Muschamp throughout the spring. They didn't have enough depth.

Bostwick can change that. He had a good spring, looking active and energetic on the line. He took a redshirt last season during his first year on campus. He's now up to 6-3, 294 pounds and ready to play a role for the Florida defense. The Gators need one of Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie to step up this season and be a capable defender in the middle of the defensive line. I'm betting it's Bostwick.

Safety Marcell Harris: The secondary might be the most wide-open area on the team heading into fall camp. Everyone knows Vernon Hargreaves will start at one cornerback spot, but besides that, there are no clear-cut answers at this point. Harris took a redshirt last season, mostly to make sure his knee was completely healthy after tearing his MCL before getting to campus.

He was fully healthy this spring for the first time and looked like it. His health issues kept him off the practice field for a majority of fall camp, so he doesn't have the experience in the Florida defense that other players do. However, he looks like a player that will be an important part of special teams at a minimum.

Offensive lineman Roderick Johnson: The injuries were so bad on the offensive line last season that the Gators came close to burning Johnson's redshirt. After careful thought about it, Muschamp and the staff elected not to do that and save a year of eligibility for the 6-5, 308-pounder.

He can play guard or tackle and will be one of the first offensive linemen off the bench this fall. Just like the defensive line, the offensive line depth was a concern in the spring. That makes Johnson's health and ability even more important off the bench.

Running back Adam Lane: The only question here is where the carries will come from. Lane showed in the spring game that he is capable of handling a role in the new offense and can be a complete back. But where does he fit? That's the problem in projecting him to break out. Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones and Mack Brown are all probably ahead of Lane on the depth chart.

Jones getting reps at the B-position would clear a path for Lane to get on the field. It's not a sure thing though. Freshman Brandon Powell, the fastest running back on the team, could also steal some reps because of the speed he brings out of the backfield. Based simply on performance in the spring practices and spring game, it's easy to pick Lane as a breakout player this fall.

Linebacker Matt Rolin: Injuries and underperformance hurt the linebacker position last season, and Rolin would've been on the field if not for a re-tear of his ACL. The first injury came in high school, and it happened again early in fall camp. It's hard to imagine how difficult the second rehab is for the same injury, but Rolin has to be mature for a redshirt freshman after everything he has been through.

His high school film was really impressive. He flies to the ball and is a big hitter. The Gators didn't lose anyone from the linebacker position after last season, but that doesn't mean much. The position underperformed last season, and returning players shouldn't matter. Rolin has a chance to be one of the best on the team at linebacker and likely gets on the field this fall.

Defensive back Nick Washington: Say hello to the new Jaylen Watkins. Washington has the versatility and skillset to play safety, cornerback or nickelback -- wherever the Gators need him to be on the field. There's no clear answer for where he will be on the field this fall, but his versatility and knowledge of the defense means he'll probably be out there somewhere this fall.

In the spring, he worked out at whichever position had an injured player. Keanu Neal went down with a hamstring injury, and Washington moved from cornerback to safety for that time. He's a valuable member of this secondary.

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