Like the former head ball coach used to say every August, they all look good in shorts.
That certainly is the case with Florida’s top-ranked recruiting class. But these guys don’t just look good as a group, they look really, really good.
With the lack of seniors and juniors on this team, the freshmen are going to be counted on to provide immediate help at some key positions, including linebacker, in the secondary and on the defensive line.
After only two practices in shorts, it’s already becoming evident which freshmen have the best chance to make an immediate impact. We’re talking about guys who look good, move well and appear physically ready to play.
Here’s a look at the freshmen most likely to play:
- Defensive tackle Torrey Davis: The big guy whipped himself into shape in the offseason conditioning program and looks more like a prototypical DT than any of the upper classmen.
- Linebacker Lorenzo Edwards: He’s physically and mentally mature and he’s going to be a factor at weakside and middle linebacker. He intercepted two passes in his first practice.
- Defensive end Justin Trattou: He’s strong and fast and the coaches love his work ethic.
- Defensive end Carlos Dunlap: He’s grown to DT proportions, but he’s going to remain at end. He may be the fastest 285-pounder in college football.
- Wide receiver Deonte Thompson: He’s more than just a blazer. He’s shown soft hands and appears to be a good route runner.
- Safeties Jerimy Finch and Major Wright: These two are fast and physically impressive and have looked very natural in drills. They probably will be a factor immediately on special teams.
- Defensive end Jay Howard: He’s a big, strong kid who moves well.
- Quarterback John Brantley: He’s got a big-time arm, and with Cameron Newton missing the first few practices, Brantley may have a shot at the No. 2 role.
- Punter Chas Henry: He’s been booming them in practice and figures to be the starting punter.
- Linebackers John Jones and Brandon Hicks: Both are very fast and aggressive and should see immediate playing time on special teams.
- Defensive tackle John Brown: He’s already one of the strongest players on the team. Once he plays himself into shape, he should push for playing time at a position of need.
- Tight end Aaron Hernandez, offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, cornerback Joe Haden and quarterback Cameron Newton: These early enrollees benefitted from participating in spring practice and now they all look ready to play. Haden is battling for a starting job at cornerback.
Some other freshmen could jump into the mix in the next three weeks, but these are the guys who seem most likely to play right away.