Predicting the Starters: Wide Receiver

The transition from backup quarterback to starter is always made easier by returning playmakers, specifically at wide receiver. John Brantley will have plenty of talent around him this spring, but the talent at wide receiver isn't proven.

Deonte Thompson will be counted on to take over as the go-to receiver. After redshirting in 2007, he got playing time in 2008 but didn't stand out. With Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin gone for 2009, Thompson was expected to step up and see consistent catches. Instead, Riley Cooper's emergence kept Thompson's catches down.

In 2010, there will be no one taking receptions from Thompson. He needs to develop into a respectable deep threat to keep safeties from creeping up to stop Florida's run game and quick throws to slot receivers. Thompson's elite speed allows him to be a deep threat, but he needs to be more consistent catching the football.

Carl Moore is the biggest wildcard at the wide receiver position. He came to Florida out of junior college as a five-star receiver with high expectations. After an underwhelming first season in 2008, catching only one touchdown pass that came in the SEC Championship Game, Moore took a redshirt in 2009 because of a back injury.

The spring was an important time for Moore to prove he was back. Despite missing a few days for what would only be called "personal issues," Moore came back with a solid spring game performance, making five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

If there were an award for the most impressive offensive player in the spring, it would have gone to Chris Rainey. He made a move from running back to slot receiver, although he still could see snaps at running back this fall. The slot position was his focus, and he made it count. Rainey looked like a natural running routes, while his moves after the catch have never been questioned.

He could still move to the backfield and see snaps at running back. Out of the running backs on the team, Rainey has the best hands and could be used as a third down back if he isn't in the slot.

Andre Debose is the player with the most hype around him. Out of Seminole High School, the Harvin comparisons were thrown at him immediately. The redshirt freshman's ability to make people miss will get him touches immediately this season. He is a special talent that could give Florida the game breaking offensive talent they lacked last season.

The possibility of Debose and Rainey lining up in the slots across from each other opens up multiple possibilities for the Florida offense.

Omarius Hines took advantage of his opportunities last season and should see increased touches in 2010 because of it. He doesn't have elite speed, but his instincts and strength make him dangerous after the catch. Many of Hines' catches came down the field on catches made over defensive backs while he was in high school, so the Gators could draw up plays that sent Hines further downfield than in 2009.

T.J. Lawrence has shown signs of being a reliable receiver during Florida's small non-conference games, but he is yet to take the next step in practices. It could come during fall practices, since this is his third year on campus.

Justin Williams has been solid on special teams for the Gators, but as a redshirt senior, he has one year left to make an impact on offense. With proven receiver depth at a minimum, Williams will have his best opportunity to see the field.

PROJECTED WIDE RECEIVER STARTERS: Carl Moore and Deonte Thompson outside, Chris Rainey and Andre Debose in the slots.


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