Transition ahead for UF
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
Despite a 10-point loss to underdog Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, the 11-2 Florida Gators finished with a top-10 season in 2012, coming in at No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll that was released Tuesday. UF is No. 10 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
The big question now is: Where will the Gators start out in the 2013 preseason AP poll that comes out in August?
This is a Florida team that will be very much in transition as it moves forward into Will Muschamp’s third season.
The UF roster has taken a huge hit with a combination of departing seniors, transfers and juniors leaving early for the NFL Draft. In all, 24 scholarship players on the 2012 preseason roster are now gone — 12 seniors, eight transfers and four juniors who have declared for the draft.
That leaves the Gators with only 55 scholarship players on their roster — 30 below the NCAA limit.
The scholarship number is expected to grow to 63 this week, with the addition of eight early enrollees from the 2013 recruiting class — wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, running back Kelvin Taylor, offensive lineman Trenton Brown, offensive lineman Tyler Moore, defensive tackle Darious Cummings, defensive lineman Joey Ivie, linebacker Daniel McMillian and linebacker Matt Rolin.
UF, which has 26 commitments (including the early enrollees), likely will be able to add four more players to the 2013 recruiting class, bringing the total to 30 and putting the Gators at 85 overall scholarships when the Summer B semester begins in July.
Looking ahead to next season, the Gators will have to replace 13 starters — five on offense (tight end Jordan Reed, tailback Mike Gillislee, wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., offensive tackle Xavier Nixon and offensive guard James Wilson), seven on defense (defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter, safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans, and linebackers Jelani Jenkins, Jon Bostic and Lerentee McCray) and one specialist (placekicker Caleb Sturgis).
With the four juniors departing (Reed, Floyd, Elam and Jenkins) for the NFL, the Gators will once again have a relatively small senior class, with only 12 scholarship seniors, five who were starters in 2012 — fullback Trey Burton, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, offensive guard Jon Halapio, center Jon Harrison and cornerback Jaylen Watkins.
Of the 27 players signed by Urban Meyer in 2010 (his final UF recruiting class), only 16 remain on the roster. Will Muschamp’s first recruiting class (2011) also has been hit hard by attrition, with only 11 still on the roster of the 19 signed.
Overall, the numbers reflect that the Gators will be a team in transition in 2013.
Note: Halapio (knee), offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) had minor arthroscopic surgery Monday and are expected to participate in spring practice.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.