Daily Football Fix: Six Gators ready to step up

Florida tight end C'yontai Lewis (80) is expected to be a key to the Gators' attack. [The Associated Press]

Every fall, a handful of Florida football players who haven’t previously drawn much attention start to emerge as significant contributors.

Here are six Gators (three on offense, three on defense) who aren’t really on the radar now, but will have a chance to show up this season:

C’yontai Lewis, Tight end, Sr. — He hasn’t been much of a factor up to this point in his career, combining to catch only 27 passes over the past three seasons. He’ll have a chance to double that production in one season playing in an offense that features the tight end in the passing game. Long and athletic, Lewis can be a matchup problem for safeties and linebackers. He had an excellent spring, catching multiple passes. The key for him in 2018 is showing better consistency with his hands. If he does, he could have a huge season.

Rick Wells, Wide receiver, So. — A four-star prospect coming out of Jacksonville Raines, this guy has been completely off the radar since he’s been here. He redshirted his freshman season, then was suspended all of last season for alleged credit card fraud. But this spring, out of nowhere, Wells emerged as a potential playmaker. He showed speed, the ability to get open and a determination to go get the ball. Transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes are getting all the attention heading into the season, but Wells has a chance to make his presence felt this fall.

Noah Banks, Offensive tackle, Jr. — This junior college transfer from Iowa Western College is physically and mentally ready to go and brings instant depth to the two offensive tackle spots. Should the coaches feel the need to move Martez Ivey back inside to guard, the 6-foot-6, 315 pounds Banks is ready to step in at one of the tackles. He figures to be in the playing rotation either way.

Jeawon Taylor, Safety, Jr. — This player actually started emerging in the second half of last season, starting five of the final six games. Then he sort of disappeared. He injured his shoulder against UAB, underwent surgery and was held out of contact work in the spring. But he showed last season that he’s not only a player, he also has leadership qualities that were evident in a young secondary. He’s looking at a possible breakout season if his shoulder cooperates.

Rayshad Jackson, Linebacker, Jr. — This Miami product has mostly just been a special teams player in the past, but it looks like his role is going to change dramatically under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Jackson worked with the No. 1 defense for most of the spring and impressed everybody with his aggressiveness and instincts for being in the right place at the right time. He’s a physical linebacker who can really run.

Ventrell Miller, LB, Fr. — Like Wells, Miller was suspended all of last season for alleged credit card fraud and forgotten. Apparently undeterred by the year off, Miller announced his arrival in the spring with numerous big-time hits that drew everyone’s attention on the practice field. And he appears to be more than just a big hitter. He also has shown good instincts for playing the position. He’s set himself up to be in the playing rotation in the fall.


  1. There’s been so much talk of potential the last 8 years. It’s time to perform. When the green flag drops, the bull@#&t stops. Time for the green flag to drop on the football program at UF.

    • Well, I must admit that I share your sentiments, Grump. Doesn’t hurt tho to familiarize us c some guys who might have been lost in the shuffle…..still, it’s getting real close to the time when all the talk is done and as GI says, “Just do it!”.

  2. I completely believe the talent’s there to be successful on this U.F Football team (know, unknown, and/or forgotten talent). Offensively, defensively. So, ”Just do it!” Go Gators! Tick-Tock! Chomp-Chomp!

    • The talent is not close to Georgia or South Carolina or Miss. St. and certainly not Alabama. We hear fans talking every year about how much talent we have. One 5* on offense and one 5* on defense and neither of these guys have played up to that rating. It is going to take some time. 9 wins would be fantastic.

      • Which just goes to show you, George, that tool doesn’t always hold, and it’s often a mistake to put more faith in it than it merits. Let’s say, though, that we don’t have any 5*s at all, but are loaded with 4*s and the remainder are 3*s. Better yet, say that 75% of our roster is elite players at either the 4* or 3* rating coming in……that’s not close enough to Georgia, USC, or MSU to compete with them?

        Don’t mean this to sound as confrontational as it probably does, but I’d be interested in your thoughts just the same. Go Gators, bud.

  3. what is this? bad boy promotion week for the gators? Lochte gets in trouble, then a graduate that coaches in ohio state, and then the newspaper thinks the credit card fraud running back (I forget his name) is going to win the Heisman. now we are told that 2 more credit card guys are going to be our best players. if that’s true, then this team wont even be .500. you need tebows, danny wuerrfels, guys that lead to win. there is no guarantee that if a guy did something bad once he is going to be good forever, so even if these guys can play, they can still get into trouble and get suspended other ways and have to be on the preseason risk list.
    we have some good players, but I have no enthusiasm for the credit card guys. if they prove me wrong, good. but not until that time.
    let me add, I gave Winston a pass at the buccaneers, and that was wrong. whatever else you can argue, the guy hasn’t won. tebow did win in the nfl. that’s the stat, the impression. winning. and the nfl has the data to prove they screwed up running off tebow but promoting guys like Winston. we shouldn’t fall for the same trap.

  4. In training a team (we didn’t have that Mus, Mac) once the fitness is established and the basics are instilled and repeated there is a plateau where all are capable but not quite over the hump. Then leadership (coaches and players) takes over and one member makes a leap forward and the others see this and not wanting to be outdone all begin to do this as well. This is where the separation in men from boys occurs. Poor leadership (coaching and players) led to on and off field issues. These are young boys some didn’t have good examples to follow to this point to help them become the men we want as Gators. The ship appears to be righted. To steal the Petty phrase “I won’t back down.” I hope they can use that to motivate them and prove the naysayers wrong, to make us who have been fans through thick and thin proud of our team and mostly get us in contention to beat a few of the teams that badly need to been in our rear view.

    • No QB can excel without an outstanding offensive line. When the O-Line gets fixed and focused, then the Gators will be stellar at QB and running and passing. O-Line has been the Achilles heal for 8 years. I believe the offense will be outstanding this year. Go Gators!