Kan Li / Scout

Gators' Position Analysis: Receiver Strengths and Weaknesses

As we finish our look at each position on the Florida Gator football roster and talk about their strengths and weaknesses heading into the 2016 season, we end it today talking about the receivers on the roster.

Expected Contributors: Senior Ahmad Fulwood (6-4, 211), Senior Chris Thompson (6-0, 170), Junior Brandon Powell (5-9, 184), Junior Dre Massey (5-9, 183), Junior C.J. Worton (6-0, 194), Sophomore Antonio Callaway (5-11, 195), Redshirt Freshman Kalif Jackson (6-4, 215), Freshman Josh Hammond (6-1, 184), Freshman Tyrie Cleveland (6-2, 194), Freshman Freddie Swain (6-0, 180), Freshman Rick Wells (6-1, 195)

Strengths: When is the last time we could look at the receiver group at Florida and say that they have a lot of options? It has been a long while and now there seem to be some really good options.

Option number one has to be Callaway. Callaway started 13 games as a true freshman in 2015 where he gained first team All-American status by a couple of publications. He caught 35 passes for 678 yards (a terrific 19.4 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Late in the year when offensive production died a bit, he was often the lone star. Callaway as brought to UF as a slot receiver, but lined up all over the field to make plays. He will do the same in year two.

Fulwood and Thompson have tools. Fulwood has the elite size and the ability to turn on the jets in the open field, Thompson is a burner. Neither has lived up to his potential yet, but at least in the case of Fulwood he had a really good spring and they are expecting him to break out.

Powell is the converted running back that played well early in the season in 2015 at the slot position when he was healthy. Playing through injury he ended up with 29 catches for 390 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the entire spring recovering from foot surgery, but is expected to be in good health at the start of the season.

Worton played in just five games and caught just four passes, but he sure showed a lot with his 46-yard touchdown grab in the SEC Championship Game. He had an attitude change and spent a lot of time with the first team this spring and if he sticks with it, he can be a very good one.

The rest of the crew is new, but has a chance to be dynamic.

Massey arrived to start the spring out of junior college and jumped right into the slot position. He and Powell will be in a fight there now, but Massey may have done enough to hold on to that one. He is an electric player that was an option all spring long for all the quarterbacks.

Swain and Hammond also showed up this spring and made noise. I would say that Hammond was a little more of a star, but it was close. It is hard to imagine that both of these guys won’t play this season.

Jackson redshirted a year ago and could be a big red zone target. A lot of folks want to move him to tight end, but I am not sure he is quite big enough for that. He was recruited that way originally out of high school, but he needs to make his name as a red zone or first down guy that can go up in the air and get it.

Wells and Cleveland are the only two that just arrived and have their work cut out for them. Cleveland is the All-American playmaker that everyone wanted in the class and his tools are special. He’s got really good size, really good speed, quickness, and exceptional ball skills. He is the kind of talent that hasn’t been recruited here in a while outside of Callaway who was somewhat of a surprise. Wells looks like a beast and plays the game physical. They really like his skill set and think he will be a player.

Weaknesses: This unit would take a big hit if Callaway somehow doesn't return from his off-the-field mishap. He is expected to be back, but the process is still ongoing. Outside of that, the biggest weakness is experience outside of Powell, Fulwood, and Callaway. It is a lot of new blood to get in the mix and a few older guys that haven’t played much or any at all. Regardless, the talent level has doubled or more in just a year and a half and so the expectations for this group should start to go way up.

Comparison to 2015: While five receivers are gone from last year’s roster, the big one is Demarcus Robinson. Robinson was talented enough to get drafted in the fourth round. His tools were better than that, but his head wasn’t. Still, there are newcomers in this unit with better tools and without a lot of the baggage, at least yet. I think the talent more than doubled from a year ago at this position, especially if you consider the health of Powell, Worton’s change in attitude and his ability, and all the newcomers.

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