Five UF freshmen who could emerge
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.
Heading into coach Will Muschamp's third season at Florida, depth still remains an issue at some positions. So, just like in past years, the Gators will rely on a highly rated freshman class to fill in some gaps on the depth chart in 2013.
Last season, nine true freshmen played for the Gators, with five making major contributions — defensive end Jonathan Bullard, Buck linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., tailback Matt Jones, middle linebacker Antonio Morrison and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries.
Here are five true freshmen who might be leading candidates to emerge in 2013:
1. Kelvin Taylor, tailback — The son of former Gator great tailback Fred Taylor showed in the spring why he finished his high school career as the state's all-time leading rusher. At a position lacking depth, Taylor got considerable reps — and displayed considerable skill. And he's only scratched the surface in terms of learning the offense. With Matt Jones sitting out the spring game, Taylor appeared to be the best tailback on the field, exhibiting a natural running style along with the power to run through defenders for extra yardage. He'll start camp in August as the No. 3 tailback behind Jones and Mack Brown. But once he knows the offense and finds a comfort level in it, Taylor is going to get an opportunity to carry the ball and show what he can do in the fall.
2. Demarcus Robinson, wide receiver — Another early enrollee who is way ahead of where he would have been had he not arrived until this summer. Although he was still in the early stages of learning the offense in the spring, he showed enough playmaking ability that the coaches think he's capable of having an immediate impact in the passing game this season. He's a big, fast, athletic player who could give the Gators the downfield threat that's been missing in their offense the past two seasons. UF is looking for playmakers at wide receiver, and Robinson has a chance to become one.
3. Alex Anzalone, linebacker — Even though this early enrollee basically missed the entire spring after injuring his shoulder, he had a chance to go to all the meetings and get a feel for the defensive scheme — and he's still No. 2 on the depth chart at middle linebacker. The five-star prospect and former Notre Dame commitment would have been further advanced had he stayed healthy throughout the spring. But he still has the size, speed and potential to step in and provide important playing time behind Antonio Morrison.
4. Vernon Hargreaves III, cornerback — Even though the Gators are in excellent shape at cornerback with Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, Jaylen Watkins and Brian Poole, many believe Hargreaves, the highest-rated member of the recruiting class, is going to have a chance to contribute immediately somewhere, in some role, in the Florida secondary this season. The five-star prospect has excellent size, speed and cover skills, and he's shown at camps and all-star games that he's a tough corner to shake. He has a chance to make a strong Florida secondary even stronger — and deeper.
5. Daniel McMillian, linebacker — This early enrollee may have the best chance among the true freshmen to earn a starting role in 2013. Muschamp was so impressed with McMillian's performance coming out of the spring that he recently said McMillian will be battling for a starting position at outside linebacker during camp in August. A mature and instinctive athlete, McMillian picked up the defense quickly in the spring and consistently made plays. Even if McMillian doesn't start, he figures to see significant playing time at linebacker, where depth is an issue. He's a guy who also could have an immediate impact on special teams.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.