Since Tim Tebow graduated, you could safely say that Florida’s offense has been – well, offensive. The Gators haven’t had a single season that has produced at least 400 yards per game of total offense and last year was the first since 2009 that UF averaged more than 200 passing yards per game (207.1 to be exact).
It’s hard to point a finger at just one place and say that’s why the Gators stunk. Poor quarterback play hasn’t helped but neither has a running game with very average backs or an offensive line that has missed its fair share of assignments in pass protection.
It also hasn’t helped that the Gators haven’t exactly burned it up with wide receivers who force safeties to play 15-20 yards off the line of scrimmage for fear of being beaten deep. The quarterbacks haven’t averaged more than 7.5 yards per pass attempt (2011 under Charlie Weis) and the best yards per catch year for receivers was 2014 (12.78)
Today we evaluate the wide receivers since 2010 to determine just how efficiently Florida recruited. From 2010-15 the Gators recruited 17 wide receivers. From that group, five transferred out and one did not qualify, so really, we’re looking at 11 receivers for productivity. We can note, however, that UF signed a blue chip group of four receivers for the 2016 class but none of them have ever played an SEC game before.
Robert Clark: He caught seven passes for 69 yards and a TD as a freshman in 2010 but after playing five games without seeing the football even once in 2011, he left the team. He transferred to Louisville where he caught 25 passes for 216 yards and 1 TD in 2012. He transferred to D1AA Samford for the 2013 season where he caught 20 passes for 176 yards.
Solomon Patton: Nobody figured out until his senior year in 2013 that he could actually do something other than return a kick. Once he was given a chance to catch the ball, he caught 44 passes for 556 yards and 6 touchdowns in his final season. He returned a punt for a TD in 2010 and a kickoff for a score in 2013 when he averaged 29.2 yards per return. Prior to the 2013 season, Patton caught 8 passes for 79 yards. Signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2014, he spent a couple of years returning kicks in the NFL. Signed with Winnipeg of the CFL for 2016.
Quinton Dunbar: After taking a redshirt in 2010, he played in 48 games the next four years, catching 111 passes for 1,500 yards and 8 touchdowns. His best season was 2013 when he caught 40 passes for 548 yards. Signed as a free agent wide receiver with the Washington Redskins, he switched positions in training camp and became a corner. He got a scout team contract after training camp but was activated by game four and was an important member of the secondary by game 12.
Adrian Coxson: Transferred out before ever playing a game. Sat out 2010 at Maryland then caught 4-90 passes for 1 TD in 2011. He transferred to Division IAA Stony Brook in 2012 and caught 74 passes for 1,218 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013-14. Signed with the Green Bay Packers but never played and retired because of concussions.
Chris Dunkley: One of the most highly ought freshmen in the country, Dunkley took a redshirt in 2010, then transferred to USF where he caught 11 passes for 180 yards in 2012-13 before switching to corner as a senior in 2014.
Travon Van: Did not qualify at UF. Went to Marshall in 2011 where he played running back for two seasons before transferring to Division IAA Montana where he played running back one year and wide receiver as a senior.
Assessment: On paper this looked like a stud class in 2010 but three of the six transferred out and one didn’t qualify. Solomon Patton really wasn’t given a chance to play regularly until he was a senior and he made the best of the opportunity. Quinton Dunbar had a decent but not spectacular career. Grade this a C-.
JaJuan Story: Considered one of the top wide receiver recruits in the country, he took a redshirt in 2011 and then transferred to TCU. After sitting out 2012, Story played three years, catching 33 passes for 381 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Assessment: Story wasn’t happy from the beginning so he transferred out. He was the only wide receiver signed in the class so when he transferred out, the loss was felt down the road. Grade F.
Ralph Andrades: He caught two passes for five yards while playing in nine games as a freshman then never caught another pass. Graduated after the 2015 season.
Latroy Pittman: Pittman played in 36 games in his 4-year UF career, catching 19 passes for 188 yards. His best season was 2014 when he caught 15 balls for 164 yards.
Assessment: Andrades looked promising as a freshman but never again got much of a chance to catch the ball. Pittman was a good blocker but he lacked separation speed and didn’t develop as a receiver. Grade D-.
Demarcus Robinson: You wonder what might have been if he could have stayed out of trouble. He had an NFL body, hands and speed but couldn’t follow team rules and was suspended four times during his career. He had an exceptional 2014 when he caught 54 passes for 810 yards and 7 TDs. He followed that up with 48 catches for 522 yards and 2 TDs in 2015. Career stats were 106 catches for 1,355 yards and 9 touchdowns. Left early for the NFL after the 2015 season and was drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Alvin Bailey: He finally saw the ball come his was last season when he played in 10 games while catching 3 passes for 49 yards. He redshirted in 2013 and then played in six games in 2014 without ever seeing the football. He has speed and athleticism. If he’s going to do something at UF then time is running out.
Marqui Hawkins: He took a redshirt in 2013 then transferred to UAB, which dropped football after his transfer year. From UAB he went to Indiana where he made one tackle on special teams in 2015.
Ahmad Fulwood: Every now and then you see why there was so much hype about him coming out of Bishop Kenny. This is his senior year and he either delivers this year or goes down as just short of a bust. His career numbers are 35 catches for 387 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of the two touchdowns was an 86-yard reception in the Birmingham Bowl after the 2014 season.
Assessment: This 4-man class had the speed, size and athleticism but hasn’t duplicated the look coming off the bus on the field. Robinson could have been a superstar but his career was derailed by bad choices. Bailey and Fulwood have the speed and athleticism but neither one has ever put it all together for a decent season. Give these guys a D+.
C.J. Worton: The TD catch in the SEC Championship Game and a productive spring are reason for optimism that a good season is forthcoming. His career numbers so far are 6 catches for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns in eight games played.
Ryan Sousa: He took a redshirt in 2014 and played in two games in 2015. His high school production makes you think he could develop.
Assessment: It is actually too early to determine what will happen with these two so give them an Incomplete grade.
Antonio Callaway: The entire Gator Nation is holding its collective breath about Callaway, who missed all spring because he was suspended. If he comes back in the fall, the Gators have a serious deep threat receiver (35-678 and 4 receiving TDs in 2015) and one of the nation’s most dangerous punt returners (28-435, 2 TDs)
Kalif Jackson: He took a redshirt in 2015 but his combination of size (6-4, 212) and speed could make him a factor in the passing game in 2016.
Assessment: Give this one an A if Callaway comes back, a D- if he doesn’t.
Tyrie Cleveland: If he comes anywhere close to living up to the hype, the Gators have a special talent on their hands.
Dre Massey: Massey is a juco transfer who is electric with the ball in his hands. He could prove lethal in the slot.
Freddie Swain: He enrolled early and had a very good spring. He’s poised to contribute as a fresthman.
Joshua Hammond: He’s another early enrollee who didn’t disappoint in the spring. He should be productive in the fall.
Assessment: On paper, this is one of the best recruiting classes in years. It’s way too early to grade them but they really do look good coming off the bus.
FINAL ASSESSMENT OF WIDE RECEIVERS: Between 2010-2015, the Gators recruited 17 receivers and managed only a handful of productive seasons. Until recently, the position was both under- and poorly recruited. It hasn’t helped that UF has been a revolving door for wide receiver coaches (six in six years; 2016 will be the first time with the same coach in back-to-back years). The recent recruiting class could go down as a great one if everybody comes close to living up to the hype.
BIG PAYDAY FOR JORDAN REED
Former Gator tight end Jordan Reed was rewarded with a contract extension of five years that could pay as much as $50 million. $22 million of the contract is guaranteed money. Last season, Reed caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has 182 catches for 1,916 yards and 14 TDs in his career. Not bad for a guy who came to Gainesville as a spread option quarterback in 2009.
GATORS TRAVEL TO TENNESSEE FOR CRITICAL SEC SERIES
Ranked #1 once again in this week’s USAToday Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Gators (37-7, 14-6 SEC) will try to make up ground in the SEC East when they travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee (24-21, 6-15 SEC), which occupies last place in the East. East Division leader South Carolina (34-9, 15-5 SEC) has a much tougher assignment in Lexington against Kentucky (27-18, 11-10 SEC). Kentucky has lost six of its last nine SEC games and needs to win the series to keep alive its hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Gators head to Knoxville after a 7-1 win over Bethune-Cookman in a non-conference game on Tuesday night. Florida plans to go with a weekend rotation of Logan Shore (8-0, 2.39 ERA) tonight, A.J. Puk (2-2, 2.87 ERA) Saturday afternoon and Alex Faedo (8-1, 3.32 ERA) on Sunday.
UF SOFTBALL CAN CLINCH SEC REGULAR SEASON TITLE
The games still have to be played on the field, but you have to like Florida’s chances to clinch the SEC regular season championship this weekend at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium. The #1-ranked Gators (49-4, 17-4 SEC) host bottom feeder Arkansas (17-36, 1-20 SEC) needing only a combination of two – one UF win and one Auburn (45-7, 15-5 SEC) loss, for example – to wrap up the sixth SEC title, the fifth for head coach Tim Walton. No matter what Auburn does, if the Gators win two games this weekend they are SEC champs.
Saturday will be Senior Day for Kelsey Stewart, Aubree Munro, Kirsti Merritt, Taylore Fuller and Taylor Schwarz, who come into the weekend with a 222-32 career mark. The Gators are 16 wins away from these five seniors tying the 2011 recruiting class as the winningest in UF history.
With the two wins at Florida State on Wednesday, Walton got wins #600 and 601 of his Florida coaching career. Walton is 601-125 at UF and 724-189 overall.
Sophomore first baseman/designated hitter Kayli Kvistad (.407 batting average, 11 homers, 57 RBI) was named to the Academic All-District Team Thursday. Kvistad carries a 3.65 GPA in communication sciences and disorders.
UF SPRING SPORTS UPDATE
Lacrosse: The 2nd-ranked Gators (17-1) advanced to the championship game in the Big East Tournament with an 11-8 win over Georgetown. The Gators will face Temple, a 12-8 winner over UConn, for the tournament championship Saturday afternoon.
Women’s Golf: Maria Torres shot a 1-under 71 as the Gators finished day one of the Baton Rouge Regional at 293, 7 shots behind leader Washington. South Carolina (290) is in second with Oregon third (292).
Men’s Golf: The Gators will be heading to Kohler, Wisconsin as the #3 seed when the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships get started on May 16. Illinois is the #1 seed in the region and Florida State is seeded #2.
Men’s basketball: Zach Brown, a 7-footer from Miami Beach and a 2017 recruit, has decommitted from UConn and has moved back to Florida from the Putnam Science prep school. The Gators weren’t one of his finalists when he committed to UConn in January, but that could change.
In Dallas County Criminal Court, Judge Roberto Canas told Johnny Manziel that he can have absolutely zero contact with former girlfriend Colleen Crowley for two years. Manziel has been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. He faces as much as one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
While they talk of putting up another statue of Joe Paterno in Happy Valley, there are reports that Paterno was told of Jerry Sandusky abusing children as early as 1976 and then again in 1987-88.
When asked about former left tackle Laremy Tunsil’s accusations on Draft Night last week, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze responded, “I was shocked like everyone else living it out in real time. But, I’m confident our administration is going to find the facts and then give us a good report on it.” Ole Miss football received a Notice of Allegations with 13 violations prior to the NFL Draft. A new Notice of Allegations could be forthcoming.
The New York Yankees (9-17) and Atlanta Braves (7-20) are bottom feeders. Remember when you could pencil them in for the playoffs?
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Will you be watching when the Kentucky Derby runs Saturday afternoon? Have you followed the Derby enough to have a favorite horse?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was 1994 when the Pat Metheny Group did their “We Live Here” tour. The concert lasted more than hours. The band played an hour, then took a 5-minute break, played another hour and did another 5-minute break. They played another hour and then did a 20-minute or so encore. Today’s music is the “We Live Here” album.