Six Gators set for breakout seasons
Published: Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 11:47 p.m.
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Predicting six Florida players who will have breakout seasons for the Gators in 2011:
1. Ronald Powell, linebacker/end/Buck — I'm not alone on this one. There are a lot of people out there predicting big things for this former national player of the year from California. He's a tremendous athlete with explosive speed and striking ability, and he has a natural instinct for the game. And Will Muschamp has come up with the perfect position to make the most of Powell's talent — the Buck, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position that Powell said he loved playing in the spring. This guy isn't on a lot of preseason all-star lists, but his name will be popping up all over the place on those postseason all-star teams. This guy is a potential game-changer on defense.
2. Quinton Dunbar, wide receiver — This speedy, athletic deep threat will follow his breakout spring with a breakout season in Charlie Weis' down-field passing attack. Dunbar drew raves from the former staff last fall and nearly ended up cracking the playing rotation as a true freshman. This spring, he established himself as UF's best deep threat and most consistent wide receiver. If you're the go-to guy in the passing game in a Weis offense, you're going to put up big numbers — and Dunbar has the look of that go-to guy.
3. Trey Burton, fullback — He kind of had a breakout season as a true freshman a year ago, scoring six touchdowns in a win over Kentucky. But that was at quarterback. Now, he's a fullback who can run and catch and will be a key component in the new pro-style offense. This guy can make things happen — and Weis is going to put the ball in his hands.
4. Robert Clark, wide receiver — He's not real big, but I just have a feeling about this guy after watching him last season. He's quick, he's tough, he's got good hands and he seems to have a real feel for playing his position. The Gators are looking for playmakers at wide receiver — and this guy has a chance to become one this season.
5. Dominique Easley, defensive tackle — He played some but didn't really do much as a true freshman last season. But he emerged as a potential big-time player in the spring, where he spent most of his time in the backfield disrupting the Florida offense. His teammates say he has the quickest first step of any defensive lineman they've ever seen. If he stays focused and driven (which he has vowed to do), Easley has a chance to establish himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the SEC.
6. Jonotthan Harrison, center — Harrison seems to have found his ideal position when he was moved from tackle/guard to center in the spring. He took to his new position naturally and played at a pretty high level right from the start. He's a big, strong, athletic guy (kind of like the Pouncey twins) who will anchor the UF front. He hasn't played much, but he has a huge upside in a position where he seems a perfect fit.