UF preseason camp: Breaking down top position battles

11
1474
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Quarterback

This, of course, will be the mother of all camp competitions. It is the one everyone will be talking about, writing about and speculating about. The outcome likely will determine what direction the offense — and the team in general — is heading.

At the end of the spring, Feleipe Franks appeared slightly ahead of Kyle Trask and Trask slightly ahead of Emory Jones. The three will start basically even in camp and it will be a wide-open battle for the starting role.

What kind of work the quarterbacks put in this summer will be evident from the start.

Running back

This has become one of the Gators’ most loaded positions, one that is a legitimate five deep with players who have all shown the ability to produce.

Jordan Scarlett likely will open the spring as the No. 1 back, and he’ll be hard to unseat based on what he’s done in the past and the way he rebounded last spring after missing the 2017 season.

Malik Davis, Lamical Perine, Adarius Lemons and the two true freshmen — Iverson Clement and Dameon Pierce — will be pushing him every step of the way.

It’s the kind of competition that should bring out the best in everybody.

Center

With two-year starter and preseason all-star T.J. McCoy returning, most probably are assuming that the position is his, locked down.

But veteran Nick Buchanan is going to have something to say about that.

In his first two years, Buchanan has seen little playing time on the line at guard. But when he made the move to center in the spring and almost instantly blossomed in his new spot.

He earned significant reps with the No. 1 offense and showed he’s going to push McCoy hard for the starting role in camp.

Slot receiver

When you look at the talent and potential at this spot, it’s going to be one of the most intriguing competitions in camp.

Dre Massey, Kadarius Toney and true freshman Jacob Copeland are all potential home-run hitters and they will be in a position to hit some in Mullen’s offense.

Mullen features the slot receiver, especially when he has an explosive playmaker to work with like he did with Percy Harvin.

Now, he appears to have three potential playmakers at the position, all expecting to see playing time.

Safety

The secondary is set at three spots with returning starters Marco Wilson, CJ Henderson and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at cornerback and nickel, respectively.

They’ll find out in camp who the starting safeties are going to be.

Jeawon Taylor likely will nail down one job if his shoulder holds up. But there will be plenty of competition at both spots, with Brad Stewart, Donovan Stiner, Quincy Lenton, Shawn Davis, Amari Burney and John Huggins all vying for playing time.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Robbie. First, you say the QB battle is going to be the “mother of all camp competitions”. Yet, Franks did not even make your players to watch list. Secondly, what have you been and doing all spring and summer? Story after story all summer has been about Brett Heggie playing center for the Gators this year, and this is the second story where you have not even mentioned him as possibly in the center competition. And the only reason Buchanan was playing center so much in the spring was because McCoy and Heggie were not available for contact practices. If Jordan is improved, stronger, and in shape after the summer workouts, he will play left guard and Heggie will play center for the Gators this year. Neither McCoy nor Buchanan have the physical size to excel in the SEC. But they are and will be good backups.

  2. If Scarlett is only a tad better than the other guys why not start them since they all have been reliable guys. Is the little bit of upside worth all the risk. He has been suspended at least once. And I think he’s gone at the end of the year anyway.
    It’s time for new thinking. Risk management. Insurance. Robustness and antifragility (growth) Optionality.flexibility. second order thinking. If you like the old way then focus on south Carolina instead. I for one look forward to a new day even if it’s clear we still more fragility to worth through.

    • Agree, and working behind basically the same line that he did last year, don’t expect much from Franks. He was a panic attack waiting to happen last year and that is hard to cure. If Mullen can make a reliable, SEC-caliber QB out of him then he is a great coach. I’d like to see what Trask and Jones can do – they may be able to mentally process the game at the required speed.

      • Agree that the mental side of Franks’s game was the problem. Running out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage is a prime example. However, maybe Frank’s mental deficiency was a product of Mac’s offense which has been described as very complex and difficult to learn and a poor offensive line which gave him little time. Frank’s physical attributes must have been sufficiently enticing to have earned the start against Michigan versus the veteran Del Rio. I think Mac should have started with Del Rio for Michigan and brought Franks along more slowly. Last year was a train wreck before the season even started. Starting Franks against Michigan with their defensive line was a mistake. Another poor decision by MacNuss. We might have a different opinion on Franks if his development was handled differently. CDM will do it right whether it’s Franks, Trask or Jones starting the first cupcake game.

  3. tunaboat. Trask was the more accurate passer in spring passes, but he had processing issues well including holding onto the ball way too long and resulting in unnecessary sacks. And the offensive line is no longer being coached by a OL coach who McElwain hired from North Texas State and trained by a S&C coach who had no clue. I expect to see highly measurable improvement in the OL, and especially if Heggie makes the successful switch to center.