Position breakdown: Secondary
Published: Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:45 p.m.
PROBABLE DEPTH CHART
16-Vernon Hargreaves III
16-Vernon Hargreaves III
The Gators have what should be one of the best starting cornerback combinations in the nation in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Both are seasoned starters who have shown they can meet the demands of playing a great deal of man-to-man coverage in Will Muschamp's defensive scheme. Roberson, who has started since his true freshman season, has added size and strength and should be more effective altering routes at the line of scrimmage now that he's almost at 200 pounds. Purifoy is perhaps the best all-around athlete on the team, a player who also excels on special teams and will have a package of plays on offense at wide receiver. The coaches also feel good about backups at corner. Jaylen Watkins has started 19 games in his career, including 11 last season, and he also is capable of playing safety. Brian Poole saw playing time as a true freshman last season and has shown promising flashes in his short time at UF. The secondary also is expected to be impacted by two freshmen — one true (cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III) and one redshirt (safety Marcus Maye). Hargreaves was the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the nation and could see immediate playing time in nickel and dime situations. After overcoming a knee injury that slowed him early last fall, Maye was a scout team star who followed with a strong spring. Maye will compete for a starting role at one of the safety positions in preseason camp in August.
Florida has to replace both starting safeties — Matt Elam and Josh Evans. Elam was UF's biggest and most consistent playmaker on defense last season and was a first-round NFL draft pick. Evans brought a lot of stability and experience to the back end. The guys in line to step into the starting roles do not have a lot of experience at the position. Cody Riggs, who sat out the 2012 season with a fractured foot, made the move from cornerback to safety in the spring and is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9, 184 pounds. The other probable starter at safety is junior Jabari Gorman, who has seen most of his playing time the past two seasons on special teams. Maye and true freshman Marcell Harris are expected to compete for possible significant playing time, along with redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers.
YOUNG GUY TO WATCH
Being a five-star prospect and the national defensive player of the year in high school guarantees nothing at the next level. But, having had Hargreaves in camp and seeing what he did in the all-star games, the coaches feel confident he's going to have an immediate impact in the secondary and on special teams. In his senior season at Tampa Wharton, Hargreaves had 110 tackles, five interceptions, five forced fumbles and also averaged 34 yards per kickoff return.
RANKING THE SEC SECONDARIES
6. South Carolina
7. Ole Miss
8. Mississippi State
9. Texas A&M