Early enrollees to have an impact for Gators

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Former Eastside High School standout quarterback Anthony Richardson already contributed at UF when he played the role of the Virginia quarterback in Orange Bowl preparations in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

 Ten true freshmen, almost half of Florida’s early signing class in December, are already on campus, attending classes, going through the offseason conditioning program and preparing for the start of spring football in March.

 These 10 are getting an early jump on the rest of their recruiting classmates and will have a chance to start competing this spring for possible playing time in the fall.

 Here’s a look at the freshman early enrollees and their chances of possibly getting into the playing rotation early:

 Joshua Braun, OL, 6-6, 356 — This four-star recruit was a four-year starter at Suwannee and was one of three freshmen who practiced with the Gators during pre-bowl practices in Gainesville. Big, aggressive and physical, Braun could have an immediate impact on a young offensive line that lacks proven depth. He’s not only big, he’s athletic — nimble enough to be a good high school tennis player. Physically, he’s ready to compete. Now, it’s a matter of learning the offense.

 Jeremy Crawshaw, P, 6-3, 187 — Now that Tommy Townsend is gone, the starting punter role will be wide open in the spring, and this Australian just may be the guy to beat. He has a strong leg and averaged 45.1 yards a punt at ProKick Australia. He’s a two-star prospect, which is high for a punter or kicker.

 Lamar Goods, DT, 6-3, 303 — A four-star recruit and former Kentucky commitment, Goods should get plenty of reps in the spring at a position (tackle) where the Gators are looking to build depth. Before he gets to spring, Goods needs to have a strong offseason under Nick Savage to get ready for the physical demands of his position.

 Richard Leonard, OL, 6-2, 353 — Like Braun, Leonard went through some pre-bowl practices and should feel comfortable right from the start of spring practice. The majority of true freshmen offensive linemen usually end up redshirting, but if Leonard, a three-star prospect, has a good offseason and spring, he might have a chance to find his way into the playing rotation along the depth-shy offensive line.

 Ethan Pouncey, CB 6-1, 157 — This four-star prospect’s first priority at UF will be to add weight and strength over the next few months to get physically ready to compete in the spring. That’s where Savage and his staff, along with the nutritionist, come in. If he bulks up some, he’ll have a chance to get plenty of reps at corner, where the Gators are looking for depth.

 Antwaun Powell, DE/OLB, 6-3, 244 — One of the highest-rated players in the early signing class, this four-star prospect was a physically dominant player when healthy in high school. But he spent most of his senior season recovering from a shoulder injury. If he’s 100 percent, which he apparently is, he’ll probably get an early look at both end spots, where the Gators must replace standout Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga.

 Anthony Richardson, QB, 6-4, 233 — The former Eastside standout and four-star recruit is the third freshman who went through a few pre-bowl practices, and he made a positive first impression with his strong arm and athletic ability. He’ll start the spring as the No. 3 quarterback and will get plenty of reps. Ideally, the coaches would like to redshirt Richardson to create a two-year separation between him and No. 2 QB Emory Jones. But they are going to start developing him and getting Richardson ready to play because of the lack of scholarship numbers at the position. He’s a true dual-threat quarterback, having thrown for 4,633 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushed for 1,633 yards and 41 TDs during his high school career.

 Jahari Rogers, CB, 6-0, 170 — This four-star prospect might be the best athlete in the early signing class. A lock-down cover corner in high school, Rogers played quarterback his junior season and threw for 2,670 yards and 31 TDs and rushed for 819 yards and 15 TDs. With the lack of proven depth at the corner spots, and at nickel, Rogers seems a strong candidate for possible early playing time.

 Rashad Torrence — Just like at cornerback, the Gators are looking to build depth at the safety spots, and getting this four-star on campus early could provide immediate help in that area. He’s a four-star prospect who has the size and speed to possibly work his way into the playing rotation with a solid spring. He’ll also likely see some reps at the nickel spot.

 Issiah Walker, OL, 6-4, 299 — Of the offensive line signees, Walker, a four-star prospect, is the highest rated. He’s an athletic big man and will have a chance to start improving his strength and gaining weight by getting on campus early. Given the lack of proven depth on the offensive line, Walker will have the chance this spring to position himself for possible early playing time in the fall.

 

 

 

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