On Monday morning, with the first team meeting of the year, a new Florida football team was born, the 2020 team. How this team evolves into what it eventually becomes will be determined over the next seven or eight months.
As the players take their first dive into Nick Savage’s offseason strength and conditioning program, The Sun is offering an early peek at the 2020 Gators over the next three days.
Who’s gone: Former starter Feleipe Franks, who is moving on to another school as a graduate transfer, and walk-on and scout team quarterback Nick Sproles.
Who’s back: Senior starter Kyle Trask, redshirt sophomore Emory Jones and redshirt freshman and preferred walk-on Luke Matthews.
Who’s new: True freshman Anthony Richardson, a four-star recruit and early enrollee from Eastside.
Who’s coming: Richardson is the only QB in the 2020 recruiting class.
What’s next: Dan Mullen may never say it, but Trask is clearly the starter coming off a season in which he threw for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns and led the Gators to an 11-win season. The feeling is that if a more experienced offensive line can generate a more consistent ground game, Trask could have an even bigger season in 2020. But here’s the thing: as Emory Jones continues to develop under Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, his playing time figures to increase this season in anticipation of him being the starter in 2021. Richardson has a tremendous upside, but he’ll likely redshirt as his development begins under Mullen and Johnson.
Who’s gone: Lamical Perine, who rushed for 676 yards and six touchdowns and caught 40 passes for 262 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Who’s back: Dameon Pierce (305 yards rushing, four TDs last season), Malik Davis (86 yards, one TD) and Iverson Clement.
Who’s new: Redshirt freshman Nay’Quan Wright and Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard, a five-star prospect who enrolled earlier this week and is seeking a waiver from the NCAA to become eligible for the 2020 season.
Who’s coming: The Gators hope to sign a running back in February.
What’s next: Replacing Perine is going to be a considerable challenge because of his versatility as a runner, receiver and pass protector. He was the complete back. The position will be wide open in the spring. Pierce likely will take the first snap with the No. 1 offense, but he’s going to face a strong challenge from Lingard and Davis. If Lingard’s knee is 100 percent (and he has said it is), he could be a huge addition to the offense.
Who’s gone: Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond. The four seniors combined for 139 receptions for 1,871 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Who’s back: Trevon Grimes (33 receptions, 491 yards, three TDs), Jacob Copeland (21 for 273 and two TDs), Kadarius Toney (10 for 194 and one TD) and Rick Wells (two for 27).
Who’s new: Texas transfer Jordan Pouncey and the three true freshmen who redshirted last season — Ja’Markis Weston, Dionte Marks and Trent Whittemore.
Who’s coming: Two four-star prospects in the 2020 recruiting class — Jaquavion Fraziars and Xzavier Henderson.
What’s next: The Gators have the overall numbers that Mullen likes at wide receiver (10 or more), but this is a group that lacks, by a long shot, the experience of last season’s corps, which featured the four productive and reliable seniors. Grimes, Copeland and Toney (if he stays for his senior season) figure to be the leaders. Grimes has the look of the next go-to guy in the passing game. Grimes and the two other veterans will have to help bring along the talented young receivers who haven’t played yet. Here’s a guy to keep an eye on: redshirt senior Rick Wells. Last season’s veteran receivers said he’s on the brink of breaking out. He’s produced on the practice field. Now, can he carry that over to The Swamp?
Who’s gone: Lucas Krull, who has enrolled at Pittsburgh as a graduate transfer.
Who’s back: Kyle Pitts, UF’s second-leading receiver in 2019 with 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns, junior Kemore Gamble, sophomore Dante Lang and Keon Zipperer, who played in eight games as a true freshman last season.
Who’s new: No one this spring.
Who’s coming: Jonathan Odom, a three-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class.
What’s next: With Pitts and everyone else returning at this position, tight end should be a team strength in 2020. Pitts likely will be seeing more playing time lining up wide or in the slot, so there will be opportunities for UF’s other talented tight ends to become more involved in the offense. Zipperer has a big upside and figures to be the tight end of the future after playing in eight games as a true freshman.
Who’s gone: Starting center Nick Buchanan.
Who’s back: Brett Heggie, Stone Forsythe, Richard Gouraige, Jean Delance and Ethan White, all of whom started games in 2019, and Griffin McDowell, T.J. Moore and Tanner Rowell (a former walk on on scholarship last season).
Who’s new: The four true freshmen who redshirted last season (Riley Simonds, Kingsley Eguakun, Michael Tarquin and Will Harrod) and the two early enrollees (Joshua Braun and Richard Leonard).
Who’s coming: Incoming freshmen Issiah Walker and Gerald Mincey, who arrive this summer.
What’s next: All the young linemen on the roster need to keep grinding in the weight room to further develop physically and keep accepting coaching on the practice field. This line should be stronger and more experienced than last season’s, and the hope is it will lead to a more productive running game. The No. 1 goal in the spring will be to establish a starter at center, where Buchanan was so valuable because his ability to make the line calls and get the front in the right protections. Heggie, UF’s most experienced offensive lineman, could get a shot at taking over the position. This will be the second spring for White and the three other early enrollees from a year ago, so the members of last year’s signing class should be ready to make a serious contribution in 2020. At least that’s the plan.