Gators’ top 44 players


After the spring game last Saturday, Florida coach Will Muschamp said he and his staff had recently gotten together and come up with a list of the top 22 playmakers on both offense and defense. Muschamp said that list needs to grow between now and next season.

Because we’re not privy to the coaches’ list, we decided to sit down, break it down and come up with a list of our own, based on things we saw and heard over the course of the spring. Our list is certain to stir debate among readers, but hey, it’s the offseason, so let’s have at it.

Our list ranks the top 22 players on both sides of the ball. This isn’t a depth chart type thing, but the overall ranking of players from one to 22 on offense and defense.

Here’s the list:

No. 1 offensive player: This was an easy call, really. Chris Rainey had a huge spring and looks like a perfect fit lining up in the I-formation. He broke quite a few long runs in the spring and is a very fast, quick and versatile athlete who is a real threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Jeff Demps would have challenged Rainey for the top spot if he’d participated in spring practice, but he was concentrating on track. Other players given strong consideration were Jordan Reed and Trey Burton. After those top four players, there was a little bit of a dropoff. John Brantley had a good spring, but struggled in the spring game.

No. 1 defensive player: Even though cornerback Janoris Jenkins missed the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery a few months ago, he’ll likely be the Gators’ top defensive player in 2011, and a probable/possible first-round NFL draft pick. He’ll have a chance to excel in Muschamp’s defense, which features a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Coming in a close second to Jenkins was strong safety Matt Elam, who had a huge spring, making play after play in practice. He has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the SEC. Ronald Powell, Jelani Jenkins, Jon Bostic, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley also were under consideration for the No. 1 spot. That should be a good indication that the talent level on defense appears a little stronger than on offense at the moment.

Here are the complete lists:’
1. Chris Rainey
2. Jeff Demps
3. Jordan Reed
4. Trey Burton
5. John Brantley
6. Quinton Dunbar
7. Matt Patchan
8. Frankie Hammond Jr.
9. Omarius Hines
10. Deonte Thompson
11. Xavier Nixon
12. Jon Halapio
13. Mike Gillislee
14. Andre Debose
15. Robert Clark
16. Chaz Green
17. Jonotthan Harrison
18. Tyler Murphy
19. Mack Brown
20. Solomon Patton
21. Nick Alajajian
22. Jeff Driskel
Not making the list: A.C. Leonard, Stephen Alli, Mike Blakely, Kyle Koehn, Mike McFarland, Javares McRoy, Sam Robey, Ian Silberman, James Wilson and David Young.

1. Janoris Jenkins
2. Matt Elam
3. Ronald Powell
4. Jelani Jenkins
5. Jon Bostic
6. Sharrif Floyd
7. Dominique Easley
8. Jaye Howard
9. Jeremy Brown
10. Omar Hunter
11. Cody Riggs
12. Josh Evans
13. Joshua Shaw
14. Jaylen Watkins
15. William Green
16. Lerentee McCray
17. Michael Taylor
18. Earl Okine
19. Chris Martin
20. Dee Finley
21. De’Ante Saunders
22. Gerald Christian
Not making the list: Gideon Ajabge, Clay Burton, Kedric Johnson, Darrin Kitchens, Leon Orr, Lynden Trail.


  1. Robbie,
    Please stop writing that Rainey is comfortable lining up in the I-Formation that is not being used. The Pro-set has a split backfield or lone running back that occasionally has a staggered H-back. Every time you write that I cringe and wonder if you know what you’re talking about. Just say lining up behind the QB.

  2. Because we’re not privy to the coaches’ list, SERIOUSLY????? Why should you be privy to the coaches list. with this and your comments about getting shut out of practice, you act like they owe you something. You are a joke and an embarrassment to the Sun. Please resign so we can get a real journalist in here. You are another bianci. What a joke!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE QUIT NOW!!!!!!

  3. I agree about Patchan. Hopefully, we’re all pleasantly surprised. I just don’t see why everyone is talking like he’s a savior for our O-line when he’s only played a couple downs there for us in 3 years, if that. Let’s put our hopes on a guy that has shown nothing so far as an O tackle and has been injured his whole time here.
    Once he proves it, then start tooting his horn.

  4. Wow, Brantley earns a 5 for being amazing when no one can see him. Ignore the large amount of evidence that he stinks when ever he plays in front of people. Doesn’t matter the system his decision making, accuracy, and pocket presence is not there. But he is named Brantley and that is good enough to start. Andreu, your reporting is so biased. Do you even bother rewriting what Foley and the program tells you to write in your own words? I have had to find other websites for a true outlook on the program.
    And Jaye Howard will be the anchor of that line, he deserves to be ranked higher.

  5. My thinking when these coaches said anything about a top 22 on each side it was based on depth at each position and not in any other order. This article makes it look like a best or better thing going on. I’m sure the coaches were simply meaning the best first, second and third stringers. Your list has them in order by player not position….not cool at all. Don’t be tryin to cause any discord amongst this team because that’s what it will look like if your not careful.

  6. In rebuttal to the dude who said that Patchan has never started at Tackle, you don’t know what you are talking about. However, Tim Tebow probably wishes he had not started the game in 09 at Kentucky when he was blindsided. Patchan was the left tackle that game.

  7. Chaz Green should be the top OL on offense.

    I like Demps at #2.

    Brantley should be more like at #14.

    DT needs to be taken off the list completely.

    Hines is more like the #4 receiver behind Andre Debose.

    Again, Alli and AC should be on the list and not Robert Clark or Nick Alajajian.

    Halapio’s also better than Patchan and Nixon.

  8. Patchan wasnt the left tackle that game, if he was in when tebow got hurt then it was in the 4th quarter and he was getting mop up duty. YOU have no idea what your talking about because patchan has never started a game at tackle we had Watkins and Trautwein in 2009 both were starters.

  9. This might be the worst article I’ve ever seen from the Sun. It’s totally meaningless to rank players based on one spring practice or on their potential to become good players. The fact that Matt Elam and Ronald Powell are ranked above proven starters Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic shows how flawed this list is, and as everyone else has pointed out, Patchan hasn’t played in over a year.

  10. Looking at the list, we are really in good shape on defense. We seem to be able to get pressure from the edge and middle, and the coverage was excellent in the Spring game. Of course that was against a banged up and inexperienced line, but the D performed great. I’d be happy with an ugly but successful team kinda like a young 2006 squad a.k.a. 20 offensive points = victory.

  11. Actually, Patchan is a beast when healthy … He’s got the most potential of any of our offensive players… he will certainly be an all SEC lineman if he can keep from getting those nagging injuries … he’s got size, speed and attitude more so than any of our offensive linemen …

  12. Not so sure about Patchan. Hope he’s that good, but he hasn’t been that dominate when he’s played. And how have the injuries affected him? Also, he was the left tackle when Tebow got hit – the LB who made the hit went right by him. Check it out on YouTube. Brantley’s a good kid but I predict Weis benches him for good by halftime at the Tenn game.

  13. I think your offensives top 22 is skewed … the coaces were accessing the top 22 PLAYMAKER’s not the top 22 players … So, I doubt they considered the offensive lineman as play makers… So, AC Leonard and Stephen Alli and maybe a few other receiver’s … I agree with most all of the defense where every postion has the opportunity of making big plays.

  14. DC you are a D*C*! Robbie, I think you give Brantley too much credit. And Deonte too. Also, I thought Driskel looked better than Murphy in the spring game. He’s our future – unless Jacoby blows him away when he gets here. The foundation of our D, I think, is gonna be the Three Amigos up front – Powell, Floyd and Easley. Can’t wait to see them this year playing together. I thought Chris Martin also showed very well in spring game. Those four are going to be the foundation of our defense. LB still makes me nervous. DB has lots of talent. We could surprise. Robbie, how about a piece on day-in-the-life of these kids during off-season. I know it’s tough coming up with story ideas this time of year. Surprise us and show that D*C* what kind of writer you are.

  15. Patchan was the Left Tackle in the Kentucky game when Tebow was injured. Watkins and Trautwein were the tackles during the 08 season.. Patchan, Johnson, Pouncey, Pouncey, Gilbert were the O-line in the game when Tebow was injured.. Xavier Nixon took over the left tackle spot later in the season as a freshman….Although Patchan has played well on the D-Line during his career.

  16. Josh, you shouldnt tell someone they don’t know what theyre talking about when it can be proven so easily. Go look at the film. Patchan was def the LT and it was def not the 4th quarter…unless there was another game that Tebow got knocked out against UK.

  17. Brantley isn’t even our 5th-best quarterback.

    Pretty much everyone on that offensive list falls into the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category. I’ve felt like Charlie Brown having that football yanked away from me one too many times with this talk of how these guys have showed so much potential in the off-season. And Demps and Rainey will break a few against The Little Sisters of the Poor, and then never do that against SEC competition.

    Our defense looks like it has a chance to be very good though.

    P.S.: I love the way these stupid Gatorsports webpages auto-refresh, deleting whatever I was typing. Asinine.

  18. JPGATOR,
    I disagree with you on the Murphy, Driskel accessment but I do agree with Greg that if JB is our fifth best play maker or player we are in a world of hurt. I’m not a JB fan, simply because he has not shown ANY promise. If he doesn’t improve drastically at game time I would feel much better going with Murphy or the best of the freshmen. Just my opinion. GO GATORS!!!

  19. DC nobody needs your sorry azz on this site. Go such up to some Turps azz and post your crap somewhere else. Robbie, the real Gator Nation has your back. In fact a few years ago we shared a few beers on 5th street in the DPond. We lived across the street from each other.
    Patchen, when healthy is a beast. Not sure what his medicalissues are but we sure have missed hiim on the depth chart.

    I just can’t wait to see the Mac Brown, Demps and Rainey show with a splash of De’bose in the slot. Lots of speed with a major punch of power.

  20. Actually just watched the youtube video of Tebow’s concussion again. Tebow got hit head on. Not from the blindside. Patchan was indeed in the game but they brought more than we could block. Patchan blocked down on the play and the tight end ran a route leaving no one to block their DE Taylor Wyndham. So it wasn’t Patchan’s fault. Just simple math. Sometimes the defense wins. If Tebow’s head hadn’t hit his own player’s knee on the way down, he probably would have just had the wind knocked out of him.

    Patchan is one of our better linemen when healthy.

  21. Just youtubed it. Tebow was hit from the left side, guy came straight at him. It looks like Patchan turned inside and a LB (?) came around the end and hit Tebow untouched. I have nothing against Patchan, was just intrigued by the complete lack of agreement on this blog. Go Gators!!!

  22. Cory you are half right/half wrong. You are correct in saying Patchan was the left tackle on the play where Tebow got knocked out. He was indeed the LT on that play.

    You are wrong in saying the defender that hit Tebow came from the right side of the O-line. The defender came from the left side of the O-line, he went right by Patchan. Yeah, Tebow is a lefty but he was looking downfield towards the right side and got nailed straight in the chest/head area. Don’t believe me-check it out on YouTube.

  23. First a big thank you to Robbie for providing all of us with something to read in the off season. I am still concerned with both lines, OL because I do not see 5 OL that are ready and DL because OL was so bad that looking good was easy. I hope RP SF DE CM and O Hunter can dominate because that will keep us in games. OL has nixon wilson and patchen and a bunch of guys I hope can get ready by Sept. I was very disappointed in our passing game, because passes were not thrown to receivers. Passes were all over the place. I hope JB can become the QB we all want him to be, but I have awful feeling that he is going to be a bust next year. I can not believe that anyone who has seen Patchen play doubts his ability. I think His injury problems have come from doing dum things off the field. We still look like a 8-5 team & 10 win team in two years.

  24. Folks, it’s not too tough to figure this whole Tebow-concussion thing out. Just look at a video of it and it’s clearly the right end going untouched, the left tackle number 71 doesn’t even see him and yes, 71 is Matt Patchan. For what it’s worth.

  25. DC – C’mom man, we as Gator fans are better than that. You’re an idiot I have NO respect for you. Robbie – cool article. I have my own opinions, but it’s fun to see what you thought. Thanks.

  26. JB Ranking is too high(Rank him in 10-15 place). He showed potential in mop-up in his early years. Since he’s been starter, I haven’t seen anything that is good. I don’t think our OL play is as good as when we had Tebow, thus our QB needs to be threat with his feet to make up for lost on OL. How many tipped passes do we have to see?

  27. Brantley is a “great practice qb”! Once there’s pressure and he senses he may be touched he folds like UGA’s D does every year in JAX! We are an an 8-4 team this yr and anything over that is a bonus. Gator Nation is a lot better off losing 4,5 or whatever amount of games breaking in a “REAL QB” than letting Brantley drive us crazy with his 3rd and 10 4 yd passes to keep that gaudy but misleading completion pct in tack!!!! Hopefully Weiss & Boom will take the red shirt off him in fall practice and watch what he does when he sees he will be hit and knocked on his ass……

  28. Brantly couldn’t pass the Ketchup at the Kitchen table, he blows. Hopefully he gets benched for good after game 1. The misery of watching him run around, fall down, turtle or have another pass batted down is killing me. If that tard is still the strater after game 2 I will spend my Saturdays watching the grass grow.

  29. As usual, we have Josh making an idiot of himself by talking trash to other people and getting OWNED. Yes, Patchan WAS the tackle in the game Tebow got hurt. And Trautwein graduated in 08 so its hard to fathom he was the starter in 09. Patchan was starting at tackle in 09 until he got hurt. I rarely come on here but when I do, I see Josh showing his ignorance. Go away Josh.

  30. Why get rid of Brantley? He was a pretty decent backup you know!

    Good read, Robbie. These are good reads to pass the time until season starts.

    Robbie, could you do an article next about all the players that came to florida, who seemed to disappear. The Lynden Trails, Stephen Alis, and others.. seems like we haven’t heard about a lot of these “promising” since they have been at florida. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sick of seeing a 7-5 season, with unknown talent riding the bench.

  31. Rainey may be the best playmaker among the RBs right now, but Mack Brown has an opportunity to play if he can block. Rainey is simply too small to provide protection and our offensive line looks like it may need help protecting the QB in passing situations.

  32. John Brantley is terrible. I never seen a qb who can’t lead a first quater touchdown. I rather do what Georgia did. Start a freshman; take your lumps and build on JB or TM. I can’t stand to watch John Brantley throw it to another team. Something is not right with him. Are we to be punish because is dad was the qb and Scott is his uncle. I sorry but John is horrible and Weis and noone else is going to change that. I wish he would have left. I rather start off new than continue with that fisaco last year. We are not winning anything with him. The best thing Will can do is just bench him and start fresh are we going to witness the same turmoil like last year. GO GATORS.

  33. John Brantley is terrible. We are not going to win anything with him. I rather go with Jeff of Tyler. Do what Georgia did start a freshman take your lumps and go from there. something is wrong with Brantley he is not showing any improvemnt. He is a senior and he looks like a freshman in highschool playing against men. I am tired of seeing him throw to the other team which he will do this year. He is not the 5 best player on this team he may be 50 but not the 5. Weis can’t not change him,no one can. That the truth. It’s sad but true. I rather not see him if he is going to perform like he did last year and in the spring game. He is showing no improvement and thats says he is not up for the big task in front of him. I rather have Jeff or Tyler start fresh and new and let Brantley go. He should have left I wish he had. Because all I see is the same fisaco of last year and thats not good. GO GATORS.

  34. There can’t be many John Brantley fans especially after the spring game. It looks like he still line drives all his passes and is prone to getting them deflected at the line.

    Despite this he derserve anonther chance. Weiss has shown he can coach up QB’s and the Gator Nation knows what a challenge he faces. If Brantley works out and we all should hope he does then Charlis should be nominated for a Nobel Prize. Not sure which one, maybe Physics.

  35. I really hope Muschamp dont waste his time with brantleys mess….In his first year I hope he make the best choice at QB….i only go by what I See and I saw in the spring game that JB was the worst of them all.Even the walk on played better….And the excuse about the offline is not good enough because every QB had to play behind an oline with issues..aND HE LOOKED TERRIBLE…i CANT LOOK AT THAT GARBAGE ANOTHER YEAR….GO GATORS

  36. I feel sorry for Brantley – seems like he has been put in some touch situations that didn’t match his talent and has never been given a decent chance to suceed. That being said, if the Gators can’t make it work with him, they need to move on and use someone else.
    As for Patchan, he may be a beast, but if his strength & conditioning coaches can’t do a better job keeping him healthy then what good is he.
    We have some real talent on this team, but I’m not confident in our chances of getting them all to click this season.

  37. WOW…really…people calling themselves Gator fans saying “I will not support the Gators as long as Brantley is the QB”…REALLY…HE IS A GATOR…He goes out there every day and works to become a better player and person to help represent our University…Yes he has had his struggles at times having been put in some difficult situations…but seriously people if he is our starting QB next year, every one who is a fan of the Gators should be in the swamp cheering him on. I am a GATOR and I will always support my team and university. GO GATORS!

  38. JB does not appear to be a very confident QB. It seems like he always going into a panic type mode. You have to have the ability to throw over the out stretched arms or even(sometimes) the helmet of defensive players. Maybe one of these young guys will come through.

  39. I guess the fans have become the experts now and that Coach Muschamp and Coach Weiss don’t know how to put a team together. I think I will trust our NEW coaches with the job of setting our starting lineup. I will sit back and let them coach and do like a fan should do, CHEER for my GATORS!!! Obviously Brantley is doing something right and the coaches see it or he WOULDN’T be starting at QB. I don’t think Muschamp or Weiss care about the armchair coaches gameplans. If you believe that the coaches are going to do all they can to win Championships so that they can make more money then let them coach and you just sit back and watch the team come together. GO GATORS!!!! We don’t need negative know it all fans in the Gator Nation. I hear fsu has some fan openings.

  40. Wow. So this has degenrated into a debate over who played left tackle in the 2009 Kentucky game?

    I personally am not completely sure without looking at a tape but I do know that all the answers given were incorrect.
    1) Patchan – wrong, he was out most of that year with an injury
    1) Watkins and Trautwein – wrong, they both graduated after the 2008 season

    My guess would be either Xavier Nixon or Carl Johnson (before being moved back to guard where he belonged). we know it wasn’t Marcus Gilbert because it was Marcus Gilbert’s knee that caused the concussion and he was the right tackle.

    So you guys rip Dooley to pieces over an opinion piece while you misstate facts. Don’t quit your current jobs.

  41. Move Reed to # 1. Best weapon, best athlete, hardest worker and best attitude with wide receiver speed, great ups and hands, full back and tail back combination runner with a cannon for an arm. No contest. Rainey is a distant 3 2.

  42. One more comment re: Brantley and QB. all the critics are correct on his placement. # 5 it’s just plain silly. I think the thing to do is face the fact that QB is a less valuable spot for 2011.

    The O just needs a game manager that does not “choke”. This makes thinking another Florida HS legend can fill the bill just as silly. Tyler Murphy should be at the # 7-8 spot. Poised and able to handle managing without choking. Tyler is steely in his approach and a born game manager. Driskel is potential super star. Let him grow while we run the ball, throw, screens and move the pocket for the unseasoned O line. Driskel will dominate in a couple years. Lighten the load at QB.

  43. John Brantley is NOT the fifth best player on offense …. maybe the fifth best QB on the whole roster (and right now, until fall, there’s only three) …. but definitely not an “impactful” player (at least in a POSITIVE way) ….
    (and btw …. methinks Mr. Robbie Andreu is giving in to politics and arm-twisting by mentioning JB in such a positive light …. how much Ass are you kissing today, Robbie Baby?)

  44. Good, provocative article, Robbie. Surprised by vitriol of some here, as well as the overbearing mis-statement of facts. Patchan, at LT, whiffed on his man at UK, Tim got clobbered, and hit his head on Gilbert’s knee on the way down, causing the concussion. Look at the tape if you don’t know what you’re about to post.

  45. Regarding QB and the little that was shown in the spring game along with a personal relationship with two of the gators offensive players. I can’t help but wonder if anyone noticed the calm poised performance from Tyler Murphy.

    As long as I read the articles, blogs and comments I will never understand how Jeff Driskel is held as the better QB over Murphy. Tyler is so quick and so in the flow yet I read Driskel, Driskel Driskel. The position is about game management and Tyler of the three QBs in the Spring game and through spring practice I am told has been the shining star.
    My bet is Brantley will be gone by game three and Tyler will be our guy. He is a very bright guy. Think Drew Brees with 4.4 speed. Driskel will get his time but Weis knows what he has in Murphy.

  46. @ Class of 86: “I will not support the gators ” You should’ve just stopped and gotten off the bandwagon right there. The Gator Nation doesn’t need or want your type.
    As for the sentiment, I don’t know if Brantley can live up to the hype or not. However, at one time Urban and his staff thought he could. After last season and the subsequent coaching change, Muschamp and his staff think he can. We’ll find out for sure come September, but until then I trust those guys’ opinions a ton more than yours.

  47. John Brantley is great other than he is about as mobile as an oak tree, can’t read defenses, has a slow low release and isn’t a leader. Patchen, Young, Wilson and Nixon are the Whirlpool Warriors of Gator football. Those of you who thinks Weis is an offensive genius have never watched ND stink up the field against competition weaker than Vandy.

  48. No one is jumping off the gators bandwagon. But I don’t want to see John Brantley throwing unexceptable INTS to the other team.It makes no sense to be a senior looking like a freshman in highschool. I want to see John Brantley succeed. I want him to have a good senior year. But if he is going to keep playing like he did last year he has got to go. I rather see Jeff or Tyler. Cut our loses and start fresh. We bash Chris Leak and he proved us wrong. Hopefully John Brantley will to. But he can’t continue looking like he has no clue. He is the QB he must take charge. If not bench him. Why keep going in reverse. GO GATORS.

  49. Sambizle: With Tom Brady at QB, you could have won four super bowls as OC. Word among NFL insiders is that Haley, the ball coach at KC told Charlie to get another gig which is the real reason he’s at UF. His ND teams had good offensive performances against the weak sisters on the schedule. Outside of the nonconference softies(3) and Vandy there are no softies in the SEC.

  50. Hope you all can see what Driskel is going to be like. Already 100% more confidence in the pocket than Johnny. And when he pulls it down and takes off, it’s going to look a lot like # 15. I see this year looking a little like 2006 at QB…..although Chris had a lot more positives going than Johnny does. Go Gators!

  51. Robbie, ouch! Brantley #5?? I think it was unfair to JB for the coaches to let him play so much and be criticized so much last year. For some unknown reason the present coaching staff seems likely to continue playing him. I think that this is unfair not only to JB but to TM, JD and maybe others who have more potential than JB to qb our team. I have to wonder what your motivation is Robbie in putting JB #5 in your list.

  52. whoever said Halapio was better than Patchan and nixon seriously needs to go watch the film…He was constantly missing blocking assignments right in his face….but i chalked it up to his being a freshman

  53. The ACTUAL coaches’ list had Jordan Reed ranked #1, Rainey #2, and I think Demps was #3. Jordan will be the go to guy this year. They have been building the playcalling around getting him the ball, especially on third down.

  54. We got 2 give Tyler Murphy a shot john brantley still wont be good dis season, WR Frankie Hammond will be the go 2 player on offense and matt elam will be a beast on defense but dnt sleep on DB cody riggs , and WR Andre Debose if healthy. LETS BEAT FSU

  55. IMHO Brantley sux, but he still deserves a chance i may be wrong and deep down feel that i’m probably not but maybe just maybe he’ll prove us all wrong,
    I remember playing QB and when you start getting pressured you start hurrying, that leads to bad throws which leads to lack of confidence, which
    leads to 8-5. backup QB is always the most popular guy in town when you’re struggling, look what Charlie did with KC’s offense last year, i think the
    protection scheme last year along with a combination of bad snaps and poor protection led to a horrible offense. In the most optimistic scenario in my head we
    have similarities with the KC Cheifs offense last season, and yes at best JB is a poor mans matt cassel, but Jammall Charles = Jeff Demps/Chris Rainey,
    Dewayne Bowe = Omarius Hines, Thomas Jones = Trey Burton/Mack Brown/Mike Gillislee.
    I say we give him 2 games and if he does’nt play well against FAU and Ala-Birm. then bench him, im saying give him a chance but keep that leash short enough
    to yank him cuz i am just as tired of him looking nothing like a gator QB as all of ya’ll.
    He had plenty of chances to leave and he stuck with UF so one more chance.
    GO GATORS!!!!