Eight Newcomers in for Spring

Florida coach Urban Meyer and his staff will have an unusual situation this spring. With a small senior class and eight newcomers enrolled for the spring semester the Florida team this spring will be roughly the same size as the Gators roster this fall.

Not only that, but Florida adds players at every position where they lose one, making for an almost seamless transfer into spring ball. With that, let's examine the eight guys who are new to the Florida roster and their chances to compete at their respective positions.

Carl Moore ---- The talented Junior College receiver steps in to try and fill the void left by the departure of Andre Caldwell. While it's unrealistic to expect Moore to duplicate Caldwell's numbers from last season (56-761, 13.6, 7) he can join with Justin Williams, Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson to try and fight their way into the mix. Add in Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, David Nelson and Paul Wilson and you have a very competitive situation.

Troy Epps --- Florida needs to rebuild the defensive line and Epps comes in from the JUCO ranks to try and be a part of that. With questions about the health status of Javier Estopinan and Brandon Antwine Florida needs another body in the tackle mix. Add in the issue of which side of the ball Michael Pouncey will be on and this is a great opportunity for Epps. He'll be in the mix with Torrey Davis, Justin Trattou, and Terron Sanders. Plus everyone is eager to see what John Brown can bring to the table.

Earl Okine --- The Gainesville High School product didn't have the best of senior seasons, playing on a sub par team and getting loads of extra attention. He made up for that by wowing observers at the offense/defense All-Star game in Miami. With the departure of Derrick Harvey the Gators need to find pass rushers and Okine will get a long look alongside Carlos Dunlap, Jay Howard and Duke Lemmens. I think we'll see Lawrence Marsh out at end as well.

Brendan Beal --- Florida has improved the overall numbers at linebacker but size is still a concern. It's not with Beal. He could be tried at middle linebacker with Lorenzo Edwards moving to strongside linebacker, or he might be in the mix at SLB. Either way, he gives some bulk to a linebacking corps that needs it.

Matt Patchan --- Florida has just three offensive tackles right now and two of them, Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins will be seniors this fall. It is crucial that Patchan make the two deep and join Marcus Gilbert in providing depth at that position. He might have the clearest path to the two deep of any freshman position player.

Jeremy Brown and Janoris Jenkins --- The Gators have seven scholarship corners already, but other than Joe Haden none has proven himself at this stage. Both jobs will be competitive this spring, but I am convinced Haden will hold on to one of them. Brown and Jenkins will be battling Wondy Pierre-Louis, Markihe Anderson, Jacques Rickerson, Ahmad Black, Moses Jenkins and Markus Manson in a very crowded cornerback battle.

Caleb Sturgis --- If Patchan has the best chance to crack the two deep this spring, Sturgis has by far the best chance to win a job. The strong legged kicker from St. Augustine fills a major need on kickoffs alone. Florida kicked off 97 times last year with just seven touchbacks. I bet Sturgis registers more than that in the first two weeks of the 2008 season.

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With the eight enrollees my unofficial scholarship count has the Gators at 70 with ten commitments for the February signing period, which would leave Florida with five more opportunities, assuming there was no further attrition from the current roster.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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