Role 10 UF redshirt freshmen will have in 2019

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Florida quarterback Emory Jones, left, and wide receiver Jacob Copeland. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Players who redshirt in their true freshman season usually enter the following spring with little or no playing experience at the college level — and zero experience beyond their second or third game of the previous season.

But all that’s changed with the new redshirt rule that went into effect last season that allows players to play up to four games, at anytime of the season, and still redshirt.

The Florida coaching staff took advantage of the new rule.

All 10 freshmen who redshirted in 2018 saw playing time in two to four games and now enter the spring with game experience on the big stage, some of it coming late in the season after they’d had time to further develop physically.

Those 10 are now ready to compete for starting roles and significant playing time this spring.

Here’s a look at the 10 redshirt freshmen from last year’s recruiting class:

 

Chris Bleich, Offensive line

Games played in 2018: Four (Charleston Southern, Colorado State, Idaho and Michigan).

Spring ahead: Knowing that he’d be losing four of five starters on the offensive line after last season, offensive line coach John Hevesy made time in the fall to work with and start developing his young players, including Bleich, who played in three games and got numerous reps in practice. He appears physically ready to play at an SEC level and will be competing for a possible starting role at guard or tackle.

 

Andrew Chatfield, Outside Linebacker

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: With a lack of proven depth at outside linebacker with the early departure of Vosean Joseph to the NFL, this highly rated prospect is expected to compete with sophomore James Houston for the starting role. He figures to see extensive playing time even if he doesn’t win the job.

 

Iverson Clement, Running back

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: Jordan Scarlett’s decision to enter the NFL draft moves Clement up to third on the depth chart for the start of spring, behind senior starter La’Mical Perine and sophomore Dameon Pierce. So, he’ll get plenty of reps and have a chance to work his way into the playing rotation. The Gators played three backs last season to keep the running game on fresh legs, and that plan likely stays in place in 2019. In his two games last season, Clement had four carries for 17 yards.

 

Jacob Copeland, Wide receiver

Games played in 2018: One (Idaho).

Spring ahead: One of the highest-rated players in the 2018 recruiting class, his UF career got off to a slow start when he injured his knee early in preseason camp and underwent surgery. Once he recovered late in the season, he started showing his playmaking potential in practice and saw playing time in the Idaho game. The expectation is this explosive athlete will work his way into the playing rotation at wide receiver.

 

Richard Gouraige, Offensive line

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: Like Bleich, Gouraige benefited from some playing time last fall and lots of reps in practice under Hevesy. He came on strong in practice late in the season and is expected to compete for a starting role at one of the tackle spots, which are both wide open.

 

Emory Jones, Quarterback

Games played in 2018: Four (Charleston Southern, Georgia, Idaho and Michigan).

Spring ahead: After being brought along at a relatively slow and comfortable pace by Dan Mullen last season, the dual-threat QB is expected to have an expanded role in the offense as he challenges incumbent starter Feleipe Franks. Even if Jones doesn’t win the job, he’s expected to get significant playing time in the fall as Mullen finds way to utilize his skill set.

 

Dante Lang, Tight end

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: With C’yontai Lewis and Moral Stephens graduating, and the hybrid Kyle Pitts expected to see plenty of reps at wide receiver, the TE position will be wide open in the spring. Kemore Gamble is the leading candidate to take over as the starter, but Lang, who showed a nice upside in the fall, is expected to get plenty of reps in his quest to earn a spot in the playing rotation.

 

Malik Langham, Defensive end

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: One of the highest-rated prospects in the 2018 recruiting class, Langham has steadily gained weight and strength since he’s been at UF and there’s a chance he’ll move to defensive tackle, where his quickness and athletic ability could help the Gators’ inside pass rush. He figures to see significant playing time in the fall as he continues to develop physically.

 

Griffin McDowell, Offensive line

Games played in 2018: Two (Charleston Southern and Idaho).

Spring ahead: According to an unconfirmed report, McDowell recently injured his leg in a scooter accident and will be out for the spring. He’s expected to be 100 percent by the start of fall camp and will get reps at both center, his more natural position, and guard.

 

David Reese, Linebacker

Games played in 2018: Three (Charleston Southern, Idaho and Florida State).

Spring ahead: This fast, physical athlete is versatile enough to play linebacker and safety and likely will get reps at both spots. He’s a potential playmaker who seems to be a nice fit in coordinator Todd Grantham’s attacking defense. His mentor will continue to be the other David Reese, the senior starter at middle linebacker.

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. Love to hear how last year’s recruits are progressing and are expected to significantly contribute this year. I hope Griffin McDowell fully recovers ASAP – we need depth at center. Also, excited about several of these fine young athletes (I anticipate some stellar performances this year from them). GO GATORS!!!

  2. If you can’t aford a car as a lot of students can’t, scooters are a good way to get around but dangerous. Better than public transportation though. Pick your poisen. It’s not so much the scooters as it is the other guy and heavy traffic.

    • dont forget about the risk of bicycles, cars hit me twice on my bike in my senior year, – not catastrophic, but still infuriating how clueless the overall population can be, before the bike was finally stolen (i know its back in the day, just highlighting the choices). walking is probably the best overall choice for the male athletes.
      i had hoped there would be more than ten players worthy of mention, but this group looks promising.

  3. OK – Griffin McDowell’s new nickname is: SCOOTER. He should claim SCOOTERGATOR.com before someone else does…lol. Kidding aside, it looks as though we will be in very good hands again this year with CDM at the helm. He knows how to run a successful program and it showed up last year. It is said that the proof is in the pudding, and we know how good our pudding was last year. The anticipation will begin to make us all ready for some football before the season starts. I am thankful that I have all of our games to watch from last year. It will be my crutch while I await next season. That GATORS/LSU basketball game was good and a bit nerve racking. A win is a win and that is al that matters. GO GATORS!!!