Dunbar emerging as leader at receiver
Published: Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:34 p.m.
For the first time in his career, Florida receiver Quinton Dunbar is going through spring practice without much hype.
The redshirt junior showed what he could do in the passing game last year, so the curiosity of the fans and media no longer surrounds him like it did heading into his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
But while cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy has been grabbing headlines this month with his ability at wideout, Dunbar has been the one leading the pack at the position.
With three underclassman receivers on the roster and four more set to report in the summer, the Florida coaches are counting on Dunbar to keep it up.
“They want me to be that guy,” Dunbar said. “They want me to be the leader of the group and they want me to lead by example. So I'm looking forward to taking on that role.”
Dunbar was nowhere near that role in 2012. The coaches didn't praise Dunbar. They challenged him to prove himself after a subpar redshirt freshman year when he entered with high expectations.
But this past season, Dunbar doubled his touchdown receptions (four) from 2011 and had almost three times as many catches with 36 for 383 yards, which ranked second on the team in both categories behind tight end Jordan Reed. Dunbar is also coming off career highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (77) from the Sugar Bowl.
“I think Quinton Dunbar took a step forward last year,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “Going back and watching our season, I thought he made tremendous strides as a football player and as a receiver and as a dependable guy in what we do and a guy that can do some good things for us.”
While he's happy to now be viewed by the UF staff as a leader rather than an unproven player, Dunbar is focused on taking the next step in his development.
“It's a humbling experience,” he said. “I just want to continue to get better and work hard. I feel like I've improved each and every year. I've made the best of my opportunities and I'm going to continue to do that.”
Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease is encouraged with Dunbar's play through the first week of spring practice.
“I'm really proud of that kid,” Pease said. “He has come along so far attitude-wise, accountability, his work ethic on the field, and it's really starting to show up.
“He just does things right. He can play a bunch of positions now. So I'm proud of him and I think it's going to carry over to reach the goals that he's setting for himself.”