You could entitle the next three days “How the Gators got into the Mess They’re In.” The three-day series will examine the roster that Will Muschamp inherited, who and what he recruited and then show the roster that Jim McElwain inherited and the holes he has to patch.
Today: The roster Will Muschamp inherited.
Wednesday: The players Muschamp signed.
Thursday: The players Jim McElwain inherited and signed.
There is this mistaken notion that Urban Meyer left a bare cupboard for Will Muschamp, a myth perpetrated on the hamburger steak and green pea circuit for at least two years. Was this as talented a roster as Meyer fielded when the Gators had it going so well from 2006-09? Hardly, but there were a lot of pieces in place and a roster that was accustomed to winning.
Of the 54 scholarship players that Muschamp inherited, 22 have made NFL rosters and actually appeared in games and two more have spent time on practice squads. Muschamp inherited three first round draft picks (Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley), four All-Americans (Elam, Floyd, Caleb Sturgis and Kyle Christy), five first team All-SEC (Chris Rainey, Elam, Floyd, Sturgis, Christy). Additionally, five or six others on that initial 2011 roster will have a chance to either be drafted or show up on an NFL roster in 2015.
Muschamp inherited decent offensive talent. From that roster four running backs, four receivers and three offensive linemen have actually made an NFL roster and played in games. He inherited two All-American kicking specialists and on the defensive side, he inherited two All-Americans, three first rounders, and five linemen, two linebackers and three in the secondary who have actually played in NFL games.
Muschamp’s offenses were handicapped by three different offensive coordinators, three different offensive line coaches and three different wide receivers coaches. The best year was 2014 when Kurt Roper was the coordinator. The Gators averaged 30.5 points and 367.6 yards per game. Not one of the offensive units averaged more than 5.42 yards per play (2011 under Charlie Weis) and 7.0 yards per pass attempt (7.5, again by Weis).
The defense was a different story. The Gators had only one season when they gave up more than 5.0 yards per play and that was the injury-plagued 2013 season (5.3). The 2012 defense gave up only 286.7 yards, 4.35 yards per play and 14.5 points per game.
Here is the 2011 roster breakdown:
John Brantley: At the time he went down with a high ankle sprain in game five against Alabama, Brantley was 66-102 passing for 1,032 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Gators were 4-1 in the first five games, 3-5 the rest of the way.
Tyler Murphy: Didn’t play in 2011-12. Started six games in 2013, completing 112-185 passing for 1,216 yards, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and ran for 3 touchdowns. Transferred to Boston College after the 2013 season and led the nation’s quarterbacks in rushing while taking BC to a bowl game.
Mack Brown: Gained 144 yards rushing in 2011-12, then carried for 543 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2013. Got only 22 carries for 95 yards as a 5th-year senior in 2014.
Trey Burton: From 2011-13, Burton caught 75 passes for 776 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus ran 371 yards and 5 touchdowns. Philadelphia Eagles TE in 2014.
Jeff Demps: Ran for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2011, caught 16 passes for 72 yards and had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Plays for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Mike Gillislee: Had 56 carries for 328 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2011, then made All-SEC in 2012 when he carried for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 16 passes for 159 yards and 1 more TD. Third round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Chris Rainey: Made first team All-SEC in 2011 with 861 rushing yards for 2 touchdowns, 31 catches for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown. Drafted in the fifth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gerald Christian: Caught 4 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in 2011, then left the team at midseason and transferred to Louisville.
Omarius Hines: Moved to tight end before the 2011 season, caught 30 passes for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2011-12 plus ran for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Jordan Reed: Converted to tight end in 2011. Caught 73 passes for 866 yards and five touchdowns in 2011-12. Third round draft pick of the Washington Redskins.
Stephen Alli: Played special teams in 2011-12.
Robert Clark: Didn’t have a catch in 2011 and transferred along with Christian to Louisville around midseason. Expected to be drafted late rounds in 2015.
Andre Debose: Had a productive 2011 when he caught 16 passes for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns plus ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a score. Only caught 3 passes for 15 yards in 2012 but averaged 28.3 per kickoff return and had a TD. Missed all of 2012 with an ACL. In 2014, averaged 14 yards per punt return and had one TD and 24.7 on kickoff returns. Could get drafted as a return specialist. All-SEC second team in 2014.
Quinton Dunbar: From 2011-14, caught 111 passes for 1,500 yards and 8 touchdowns. His best season was 2012 when he caught 36 passes for 383 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Frankie Hammond Jr.: In 2011-12, Hammond caught 37 passes for 476 yards and 3 touchdowns. He spent the last two years playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Solomon Patton: Caught only 3 passes in 2011-12, but caught 44 for 556 yards and 6 touchdowns as a senior in 2013. He averaged 29.2 yards per kickoff return in 2013 with a 100-yard return for a TD against Missouri. Played for the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2014.
Deonte Thompson: Production dropped from 38 catches for 570 yards in 2010 to 21 catches for 264 in 2011. Played two years with the Baltimore Ravens and spent last season with the Buffalo Bills. Got a Super Bowl ring in Baltimore.
Nick Alajajian: Got one start in 2011, missed all of 2012 with an injury.
Jonotthan Harrison: Started 38 games from 2011-13, most of them at center. Starting center for the Indianapolis Colts.
Sam Robey: Played in 22 games in 2011-12.
Jon Halapio: Made 36 starts at guard from 2011-13. On the New England Patriots roster in 2014.
Ian Silberman: Played in 19 games from 2011-13, starting seven. Transferred to Boston College and started at right guard for 13 games, making All-ACC third team.
James Wilson: Played in 23 games in 2011-12, starting 12 at left guard.
David Young: Special teams contributor in 2011. Took a medical hardship.
Chaz Green: Freshman All-America in 2011, started 10 games in 2012, missed all of 2013 with an injury and started 11 games in 2014. Should get drafted second day in 2015.
Kyle Koehne: Got 10 starts from 2011-13 at both guard and tackle.
Xavier Nixon: Started at left tackle in 20 games in 2011-12. Played for the Indianapolis Colts in 2013-14 and signed by the Redskins in the 2015 offseason.
Matt Patchan: Started at right tackle seven games in 2011, missed all of 2012 with an injury. Transferred to Boston College in 2013 where he made second team All-ACC. Spent some time on the Tampa Bay Bucs practice squad.
Caleb Sturgis: First team All-American in 2011-12 and finalist for the Lou Groza Award both years. Scored 203 points in 2011-12 while hitting 46-54 field goals including 6-8 from beyond 50 yards. Fifth round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins.
Kyle Christy: Averaged 43.7 per punt from 2011-14 including 45.8 in 2012. Second team All-American in 2012 and second team All-SEC in 2014.
William Green:, Was in on 21 tackles in 2011.
Kedric Johnson: Had 5 tackles in 2011. Took a medical hardship after the 2012 season.
Lerentee McCray: Played both end and linebacker. Earned 17 starts in 2011-12 with 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Plays for the Denver Broncos.
Earl Okine: Played in 26 games at end in 2011-12 with 20 tackles and a blocked field goal. Spent two years on various practice squads before signing a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.
Lynden Trail: Transferred to Norfolk State where he made Division IAA All-America two times. Should get drafted on day two in 2015.
Dominique Easley: Was in on 68 tackles from 2011-14. Lost for the season in game three of 2014 with an ACL. Had 5.5 sacks in his career. First round draft pick of the New England Patriots. Has a Super Bowl Ring.
Sharrif Floyd: Had 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2011-12. First team All-SEC and All-America. Left early for the NFL and was a first round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
Jaye Howard: Started all 13 games at tackle in 2011 when he had 65 tackles including 10 for loss and 5.5 sacks. Fourth round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. Spent the last two years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Omar Hunter: Had 71 tackles in 2011-12 including 6.5 for loss and a sack. Started 14 games in his career including all 13 at nose tackle in 2012.
Leon Orr: Had 62 tackles in his career from 2011-14 including 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Had 10 starts in his career. Dismissed from the team in November of 2014.
Ronald Powell: Started all 12 games in 2011 and had eight starts in 2013. Missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL. Had 58 tackles, 16 for loss and 10 sacks in his two years under Muschamp. Left early for the NFL after 2013 and was a fifth round pick of the New Orleans Saints.
Gideon Ajagbe: Started his career at linebacker but finished as a fullback. Never had a tackle at linebacker. Had four catches for 28 yards and a touchdown as a fullback in 2013. Played in only five games in 2014.
Jon Bostic: Started 26 games at middle linebacker in 2011-12 and made second team All-SEC in 2012. Had 162 tackles in 2011-12 with 19 for loss, 7.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. Second round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.
Dee Finley: Dismissed from the team.
Jelani Jenkins: Started 12 games at weakside linebacker in 2011 and eight starts in an injury-plagued 2012. Had 104 tackles including 16.5 for loss, 4 sacks and 2 interceptions in those two years. Left a year early for the NFL and was taken in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins.
Darrin Kitchens: Played in 36 games with six starts from 2011-13. Was in on 57 tackles including 4 for loss.
Michael Taylor: Played in 47 games with 19 starts from 2011-14. Was in on 194 tackles including 14.5 for loss and had 2 sacks and 2 interceptions.
Jeremy Brown: He missed three entire seasons with injuries while at UF. Played in 11 games in 2012 and in seven games in 2013. Had 5 tackles in 2012.
Moses Jenkins: Played in 13 games in 2011, mostly on special teams where he had 3 tackles.
Cody Riggs: Got 10 starts in 2011 and missed the last 11 games of 2012 with a broken foot. Started all 12 games in 2013 and finished with 51 tackles including 6.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. Transferred to Notre Dame in 2014 where he started 11 games at corner and picked off one pass.
Matt Elam: Started 26 games at safety in 2011-12 and made first team All-SEC and All-America. Was in on 146 tackles those two years including 22 for loss and 5 sacks to go with six interceptions. Left early for the NFL and was a first round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens.
Josh Evans: Started eight games at safety in 2011 and 13 in 2012. He had 134 tackles those two seasons including 7 for loss and 3.5 sacks and 4 interceptions. Was drafted in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.
Josh Shaw: Transferred to Southern Cal before the 2011 season.
Jaylen Watkins: Watkins played both corner and safety, starting 28 games from 2011-13 while recording 125 tackles and picking off 3 passes. Taken in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2014 draft.
Are you surprised that so many from the 2011 roster went on to play professional football?
David Sanborn took up the saxophone on doctor’s advice to strengthen his lungs after an 8-year battle with polio as a child. Obviously, his lungs recovered nicely. He started working professionally at age 14, playing for Albert King and Little Milton, then went on to join the Paul Butterfield Blues band when he was 22. He’s toured or played in the studio for just about every top rock or blues act of the last 40 years. His new album “Time and River” was released last Tuesday. Today’s music is “Neither One of Us,” which was made famous by Gladys Knight but was written by former Ole Miss quarterback Jim Weatherly.