Freshmen contribute early for the Gators
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 11:53 p.m.
There are many factors involved in the Florida Gators' improvement from a 7-6 team in 2011 to an 8-1 team (and 7-1 in the SEC) in 2012. One important factor has been the contribution of the true freshmen, some who enrolled early, others who didn't.
True freshmen have combined to start 11 games this season, and they have provided the Gators with critical depth on both lines of scrimmage, at linebacker, wide receiver and tight end.
The kids have shown they can play.
Here's a look at what the true freshmen contributed:
Raphael Andrades, WR — A late addition to the recruiting class, Andrades has started two games (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) and played in four others, giving the Gators depth at receiver. He's caught two passes for five yards, but his playing time has increased in recent weeks.
Willie Bailey, CB — Redshirting this season. Early enrollee who needs to gain weight and strength.
Jonathan Bullard, DE — This five-star recruit has played a pivotal role on the defensive line, where he has played in every game, with two starts (Vanderbilt and Kentucky). He's one of three true freshmen to appear in every game. He has recorded 20 tackles, including four for losses, and has five quarterback hurries. He had a career-high seven tackles in the Vandy game.
Bryan Cox Jr., DE/LB — Redshirting this season. Missed a large portion of his senior season in high school due to injury.
Jessamen Dunker, OG — He's an early enrollee who appeared set to see considerable playing time this season. But after playing in the opener, he's now going to redshirt this season. He'll battle for a starting role in the spring.
Dante Fowler Jr., Buck linebacker — Like Bullard, this five-star recruit has been a major contributor — and he has great upside moving forward in his career. He made his first start this past Saturday against Missouri and had a career-high five tackles, including two for losses. On the season, he's recorded 22 tackles, five for losses, and two sacks.
Austin Hardin, PK — Solid prospect who is redshirting this season.
D.J. Humphries, OT — Another five-star recruit who has become a significant contributor this season. He's started two games (South Carolina and Missouri) and has played in every game. He figures to be the starting left tackle next season.
Matt Jones, TB — Has emerged as the No. 2 tailback behind Mike Gillislee. He's played in eight games, with one start (Tennessee). He's rushed for 117 yards on 32 carries and has two receptions for nine yards. Scored his first career touchdown against South Carolina.
Rhaheim Ledbetter, S — The high school teammate of Bullard, Ledbetter is redshirting this season.
Jafar Mann, DT — Given a look at defensive tackle and guard. He decided earlier this week to transfer after not playing this season.
Marcus Maye, DB — This excellent prospect had knee surgery this summer and is redshirting. He's expected to compete for a starting role at safety in the spring.
Alex McCalister, LB/DE — UF coach Will Muschamp has mentioned him several times this fall. He's redshirting this season to gain weight and strength.
Skyler Mornhinweg, QB — Only the fourth scholarship QB on the roster, he's redshirting this season.
Antonio Morrison, MLB — An early enrollee who has played a major role. Has started three games (Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt) for the injured Jelani Jenkins at outside linebacker. He also plays middle linebacker and has played in all nine games, recording 26 tackles, one for a loss. Led the team in tackles (six) against Vanderbilt.
Latroy Pittman, WR — Early enrollee who has played in eight games, with two catches for six yards. His playing time has increased in recent games.
Brian Poole, CB — Moved to safety early in preseason camp but is now a full-time cornerback. He has seen a good amount of playing time on special teams. Coaches have said he has a chance to be special one day.
Jeremi Powell, LB — A little bit undersized, Powell is redshirting this season.
Kent Taylor, TE — A pass-catching tight end who has played in four games, with one reception for zero yards. If Jordan Reed leaves early for the NFL, Taylor will vie for the starting role in the spring.
Colin Thompson, TE — Redshirting after undergoing foot surgery in the preseason.
Quinteze Williams, DL — Redshirting this season to gain weight and strength.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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