Predicting UF's playmakers
Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 12:14 a.m.
At SEC Media Days in July, Florida coach Urban Meyer said one of his camp priorities was to identify and rank the Gators' playmakers on offense. He obviously has done that over the past few weeks, but because we're not privy to his list, The Sun has come up with one of its own based on interviews with coaches and players during and after camp. Veteran football beat writer Robbie Andreu offers a prediction on who UF's top 10 offensive playmakers will be this season (not including quarterback):
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1. Chris Rainey
Credentials: As a tailback the past two seasons, Rainey rushed for 1,237 yards, averaged 7.1 yards a carry and scored nine touchdowns. He's a proven playmaker, with two plays of 75 yards or longer. He is the most elusive open-field runner on the team.
Why he's No. 1: He's going to have the ball in his hands a great deal because of the multiple roles he will have. He'll line up as a slot receiver (in the Percy Harvin role), play some tailback and he's returning punts (and maybe kickoffs). Rainey is great in space, and the plan is to put him there often.
2. Jeff Demps
Credentials: The junior tailback is the fastest player in college football — and a proven playmaker. In the past two seasons, he's rushed for 1,350 yards, scored 14 touchdowns and averaged a whopping 7.6 yards a carry. He's had two runs of 60 yards or longer. He reported to camp at a sturdy 190 pounds.
Why he's No. 2: He's a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. By all accounts, he's improved his elusiveness and he'll also be a threat catching the ball out of the backfield and returning kickoffs.
3. Deonte Thompson
Credentials: The junior wide receiver is a former five-star recruit who has speed and a huge upside. He finished the 2009 season with a breakout performance in the Sugar Bowl (five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown) and followed it with an outstanding spring.
Why he's No. 3: Thompson and quarterback John Brantley were part of the same recruiting class, and they've been playing pitch and catch for the past three years. Thompson was Brantley's go-to guy in the spring, a trend that should continue this season.
4. Omarius Hines
Credentials: The sophomore hasn't really done much yet in terms of numbers. Injuries to his legs forced him to redshirt in 2008, then as a back-up wide receiver last season, he caught only 14 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. But he's been tearing it up in practice since he was moved to tight end.
Why he's No. 4: The former wide receiver apparently has taken over the Aaron Hernandez role in the offense as a pass-receiving tight end lining up in the slot. He's big (220 pounds), he's fast (4.3 in the 40) and he has a chance to create mismatch problems for opposing defenses. His high ranking is based on what the players and coaches have been saying about him for weeks.
5. Carl Moore
Credentials: The former junior college All-America doesn't have much of a resume at Florida. Two years ago, he caught only 14 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. He missed the 2009 season with a back injury. He's healthy now and coming off a strong second half of the spring.
Why he's No. 5: His ranking is based solely on what we've been hearing from the coaches throughout preseason camp. By all accounts, he's elevated his game and has started playing up to the potential he brought with him from Sierra Community College three years ago.
6. Emmanuel Moody
Credentials: Although he hasn't played enough to put up significant numbers, he's fast, physical, runs extremely hard and has moves — basically everything the coaches look for in a playmaking tailback. In two seasons, he's combined to rush for 758 yards and averaged 6.7 yards a carry.
Why he's No. 6: Potential. Potential. Potential. This USC transfer has shown flashes of greatness in his first two years at UF, but injuries have prevented him from emerging. If he stays healthy this season (which he's done through practice), he could have a breakout year.
7. Andre Debose
Credentials: This fast, elusive wide receiver missed his freshman season last year after having hamstring surgery. He came to UF as a five-star recruit, and a player Meyer compared to Percy Harvin. He caught everyone's attention with a strong performance in the spring game.
Why he's No. 7: He has breakaway speed, acrobatic moves and some of the best hands on the team. The coaches and players say he's really started making plays in practice. Meyer said he has freakish athletic ability. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio called him electric after Saturday's scrimmage.
8. Trey Burton
Credentials: The true freshman is a dual-threat quarterback from Venice who enrolled early and participated in spring practice. He was the No. 2 QB throughout the spring and made steady progress leading up to the Orange and Blue Game.
Why he's No. 8: He was a three-star recruit, but if you listen to the coaches he has a chance to become a five-star player for the Gators. He's strong, athletic, plays with passion and has the ability to play several positions. The coaches says going to be on the field with a chance to make plays.
9. Jordan Reed
Credentials: Reed was a highly rated quarterback out of New London, Conn., who redshirted last season. He was a dual-threat QB in high school who moved to tight end during preparation for last season's Sugar Bowl.
Why he's No. 9: He may have been the biggest surprise of the spring with how quickly he caught on at TE. He also showed great promise (as a runner and passer) in the Wildcat package. He may miss the opener (knee), but he's going to be a factor in the offense.
10. Robert Clark
Credentials: He is a true freshman from Palm Beach Dwyer who enrolled early and participated in the spring. He was recruited as a wide receiver and kick returner.
Why he's No. 10: Some may have thought he was a throw-in during recruiting to go along with Dwyer stars Matt Elam and Gerald Christian. He's shown that's definitely not true. The coaches have mentioned him often, talking about his toughness, quickness and ability to make plays in practice.