Expected Contributors: Junior Jalen Tabor (6-0, 199), Junior Quincy Wilson (6-1, 211), Junior Duke Dawson(5-10, 202), Junior Joseph Putu (6-2, 190), Sophomore Chris Williamson (5-11, 192), Freshman McArthur Burnett (5-9, 172), Freshman C.J. McWilliams (6-0, 170), Freshman Chauncey Gardner (5-11, 205)
Strengths: Starters Tabor and Wilson may be the best combo in the country. Many would argue that Tabor is the best at the position nationally.
Both are big and physical. Tabor is a play maker and a threat any time the ball is in the air. He finished with 18 passes defensed and four interceptions in 2015. He also logged four tackles for loss. Wilson plays the game more at the line of scrimmage and wills his man to not get the ball. He finished with seven passes broken up and two interceptions last season.
Dawson picked off two passes in the spring game and that was a welcome sign as the Gators look to fill that third position in the secondary that is usually manned by corners, the NICKEL spot. He has played safety in his time on campus, but has lost some weight since last season and was in terrific shape for the spring and played strong. He picked off a pass for a touchdown in the first game of his career in 2014, but hasn’t been able to live up to the gaudy start. Things are looking more in that direction this time around.
Beyond that there is a lot of unknown. Williamson was much improved in the spring compared to the fall when he was a bit timid. Burnett looked athletic this spring as an early enrollee. He’s physical, but needs more size. Gardner is listed here because he will play a good deal at the NICKEL position. They expect Putu to compete and play right away, but he isn’t on campus yet. McWilliams high school film was really good, but he has to learn the ropes.
Weaknesses: The biggest issue is no experience behind the big three listed above. Certainly we have to expect a talent drop off from those three as well. It is a physically talented group, but they have a lot of learning on the job to do behind the starters.
Comparison to 2015: We all look at the loss of Vernon Hargreaves as a huge deal and rightfully so. Hargreaves didn’t have a junior year as good as he was splaying before, but he was still a constant threat to pick off the ball. The guy that is forgotten is Brian Poole at NICKEL. He was as physical a player as you will see in the slot and Dawson has his hands full trying to play up to those standards.