Signing Day Bounce: The 2006 Roster

The Recruiting Class of 2006 is in the books for the Florida Gators so now all eyes turn to the mat drills that will lead up to the start of spring practice on March 29. Adding in the signing class, the Gators now have 82 scholarship players, three under the NCAA limit of 85.

Here is a look at the Florida roster, position by position, including a look at which freshmen figure to move up the depth charts early.

QUARTERBACK (2):

Returning Starter (1): Chris Leak

Signee (1): Tim Tebow

Position Status: Leak is a three-year starter who should show significant improvement in his second year in Coach Urban Meyer's offense. He's never going to be a great runner but if he can learn to take the four and five-yard gains when he's got them, he'll be adequate. Tebow has the size (6-3, 228), speed and arm to be a great one. There is no experienced backup so this is a position that could be a bit scary if there are injuries.

Signing Day Bounce: Considering there was only one scholarship quarterback prior to signing day, getting Tebow in school for the spring was imperative. Tebow is a remarkable talent. Jarred Fayson was recruited to play wide receiver but he was an outstanding quarterback in high school. Expect him to get the third string snaps and be the emergency quarterback.

RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK (8):

Returning starters (2): DeShawn Wynn, Billy Latsko (FB)

Other returnees (3): Kestahn Moore; Markus Manson; Eric Rutledge (FB)

Signees (3): Chevon Walker, Mon Williams, Brandon James

Position Status: Wynn spent 2005 battling through one injury after another. If he's healthy, he is a 220-pounder with speed. Latsko proved he is an accomplished blocker who can be used in both the running and passing games. Moore had a great Outback Bowl so he will see significant playing time. Manson has shown flashes of speed and elusiveness but hasn't really put it all together yet. Walker is on campus for the spring. He's got the ability to go the distance with his great speed but he's not a big back. Williams should be a 210-pounder by August. He could become a significant player as a true freshman. James is a waterbug who will be a kick returner from day one and a situational player on offense, mostly in the slot.

Signing Day Bounce: The Gators wanted C.J. Spiller but he would have been a luxury since the Gators already had Walker, Williams and James in the bag. Walker, Williams and James are significant speed upgrades at this position. Florida now has backs capable of breaking long runs. Considering last year's inadequate depth, this position has been upgraded in every way.

WIDE RECEIVER (12):

Returning starters (3): Dallas Baker, Bubba Caldwell, Jemalle Cornelius

Other returnees (5): Kenneth Tookes, Mike McIntosh, Nyan Boateng, Louis Murphy, David Nelson (RS-Fr)

Signees (4): Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson, Justin Williams, Riley Cooper

Position Status: If Caldwell comes back 100 percent from his broken leg, then the 1-2-3 punch of Caldwell, Baker and Cornelius will be about as good as there is anywhere in the country. Baker is a big time downfield receiver while Caldwell has gamebreaker potential that was sorely missed when he went down with an injury. Cornelius should see the ball far more often with Chad Jackson gone. David Nelson was drawing rave reviews for his play on the scout team at the end of the season. Nyan Boateng has size and the ability to operate in traffic. Harvin could be an immediate impact player as a true freshman.

Signing Day Bounce: Harvin, Fayson, Justin Williams and Cooper give the Gators four outstanding playmakers who have go the distance speed. Harvin and Fayson are the type that can turn three yard passes into 70-yard gains. Williams and Cooper are field stretchers. This is one of the top three wide receiver classes in the country even without defectors Damian Williams and Damon McDaniel. Florida has the 12 receivers that Meyer says is a requirement to play 4-5 wide receiver sets.

TIGHT END/H-BACK (3):

Returning Starter (1): Tate Casey

Other returnees (1): Cornelius Ingram

Signee (1): Trent Pupello

Position Status: Casey needs a great offseason in the weight room to get his weight up around 250. He should have an improved year of catching the ball. Ingram is moving over from quarterback. He's an interesting combination of size and speed who could add a new dimension to this position. Pupello has good size for a freshman and he will see playing time in goal line and two-tight blocking situations.

Signing Day Bounce: Pupello has the tools to be a good one. Defector Ben Cleveland would have given the Gators a little more depth.

OFFENSIVE LINE (13):

Returning Starters (3): Steven Rissler (will move from G to C); Jim Tartt (G); Drew Miller (G)

Other returnees (6): Carlton Medder (T), Jason Watkins (T), Phil Trautwein (T); Ronnie Wilson (G, RS-Fr); Eddie Haupt (C, RS-Fr); Simon Codrington (T, RS-Fr)

Signees (4): Carl Johnson (G), Maurice Hurt (G), Jim Barrie (T), Marcus Gilbert (T)

Position status: Rissler, Tartt and Miller should give the Gators an experienced interior. Expect freshman Carl Johnson to play his way into the mix very quickly. He's that big and that good. Ronnie Wilson impressed on the scout team last year and he's expected to factor at guard. Trautwein and Medder are the two most experienced tackles. Medder started showing signs of really coming around in the last month of the season. Watkins is still growing. Haupt is returning from back surgery and if he's slow coming around physically in the spring, expect Wilson to get some work at center.

Signing Day Bounce: Florida got four on signing day but the Gators needed five and would have loved to get six. Jim Barrie and Marcus Gilbert will almost likely redshirt. Hurt is an early enrollee so he has a chance to prove early that he could gain some playing time. Carl Johnson will be pushing for playing time from day one. The Gators would have had one of the top four or five OL classes if Andre Smith, Orlando Franklin or Daron Rose has been in this class. Sam Young is the one that really got away.

DEFENSIVE LINE (15):

Returning Starters (5): Jarvis Moss (E); Ray McDonald (E/T); Marcus Thomas (T); Steven Harris (T); Joe Cohen (E/T)

Other returnees (5): Derrick Harvey (E); Clint McMillan (T); Branden Daniel (T); Javier Estopinan (T); Daryl Gresham (E, RS-Fr)

Signees (5): Lawrence Marsh (E); Jermaine Cunningham (E); Brandon Antwine (T); Terron Sanders (T); Corey Hobbs (T)

Positon Status: The Gators are three deep across a defensive line that should rank among the nation's best. If Ray McDonald returns to health, it very well could be THE best. Marcus Thomas (with Scoop) is a three-year starter at tackle and Steven Harris proved that he can more than hold his own last year. He will play close to 300 this year and he should be outstanding. Jarvis Moss will probably be the best defensive end in the SEC. If Joe Cohen is healthy he will have the breakout season everyone has always expected. Among the backups, Derrick Harvey looks like he will challenge for starting time. Daryl Gresham moved from linebacker to defensive end. Coaches think he is a big time talent.

Signing Day Bounce: This is a position where the Gators whiffed last year so getting in five linemen was a must. Florida got the defensive ends it needed in Cunningham and Marsh, a pair of bulls to clog the middle in Hobbs and Sanders, and a mega-quick tackle who can be a disruptor in Antwine. McDonald, Harris, Cohen and Thomas are all seniors so five on signing day was exactly what the doctor ordered. Look for Hobbs and Antwine to move up the depth chart quickly.

LINEBACKER (10):

Returning Starters (2): Brandon Siler; Earl Everett

Other Returnees (5): Brian Crum; Jon Demps; Ryan Stamper (RS-Fr); Kalvin Baker (RS-Fr); Eric Sledge (RS-Fr)

Signees (3): Dustin Doe; A.J. Jones; Brandon Spikes

Position Status: Siler is as good a middle linebacker as there is in the country and Everett is a three-year starter who has enough speed to cover downfield effectively. Crum came on as a backup last year so he should get the first crack at starting on the strong side. Demps is coming back from knee surgery but he's made good progress. Expect him to back up Siler in the middle. Stamper will apprentice under Everett. Brandon Spikes has the kind of size and speed to push Crum on the strong side.

Signing Day Bounce: A fourth linebacker would have been nice but the Gators got a significant upgrade with Doe, Jones and Spikes. Spikes should move up the depth chart the fastest, but the speed of Doe and Jones will put them in position to earn playing time early on. Florida now has a three-deep of scholarship linebackers. If the Gators had known there would be the last minute defectors, you can just about bet they would have waited patiently for Larry Grant to re-take that math class.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (16):

Returning Starters (3): Reggie Lewis (CB); Kyle Jackson (S); Reggie Nelson (S)

Other Returnees (7): Avery Atkins (CB); Nick Brooks (S); Terrance Holmes (S); Tony Joiner (S); Jermaine McCollum (CB); Tremaine McCollum (CB); Dorian Munroe (S, RS-Fr)

Signees(6): Markihe Anderson (CB); Jamar Hornsby (S); Wondy Pierre-Louise (CB); Jacques Rickerson (CB); Derrick Robinson (CB); Bryan Thomas (S)

Position Status: The safety position is a real strength with Nelson, Jackson, Joiner and Holmes along with a good looking redshirt freshman in Munroe. Hornsby and Thomas have a chance to play as freshmen. Other than offensive tackle, corner is the biggest question mark on the team. Atkins earned playing time and had a pick against FSU so he's got talent. Lewis stepped in as a starter at corner when Vernell Brown went down and he showed potential. Tremaine McCollum should get a good look in the spring. Rickerson and Anderson will be in the mix for playing time from day one.

Signing Day Bounce: The Gators added a pair of real playmakers in Hornsby and Thomas at safety. Thomas is talented enough that he could possibly be tried at corner. Anderson, Pierre-Louise and Rickerson all have tremendous speed. Rickerson should compete for playing time immediately.

SPECIALISTS (3):

Returning Starters (2): Eric Wilbur (P); Chris Hetland (PK)

Other Returnee (1): Jonathon Phillips (PK);

Position Status: The Gators have returning starters in Wilbur and Hetland. Both should be among the best in the SEC. There is no backup punter for Wilbur. Phillips gained experience kicking off.


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