Here’s the Story at wide receiver for UF

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Back in February, it was pretty unanimous that Jeff Driskel was the most important prospect  in the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class. The numbers were dangerously low at quarterback, Driskel was the highest-rated quarterback in the nation by some recruiting services, and he was an early enrollee.

One could make an argument now that Ja’Juan Story is just as important a get for the Gators.

With the departure last week of Chris Dunkley and Javares McRoy, the Gators are down to eight scholarship wide receivers. The number will grow to nine this summer with the enrollment of Story.

Late in the recruiting process, Story was showing serious interest in Ohio State and there was concern in the Florida camp he might back out of his UF commitment and sign with the Buckeyes. Had that happened, the 2011 recruiting class would not have a wide receiver in it (with McRoy’s transfer to Texas Tech). And wide receiver was a huge need for the Gators with UF going to a pro-style offense under Charlie Weis.

Even with Story in the fold (and expected to compete for possible playing time in the fall), the Gators are low in numbers and experience at wide receiver. And low in production.

The most experienced wideout is fifth-year senior Deonte Thompson, who has started 24 games. The other seven wide receivers have combined for eight starts — and seven of those starts belong to one player, Omarius Hines.

Five of the wide receivers — Stephen Alli, Robert Clark, Quinton Dunbar, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Solomon Patton — have never started a game.

The eight wide receivers on campus now have combined for only 126 receptions — and 102 of those receptions belong to three players (Thompson, Hines and Hammond). The other five receivers have a mere 24 catches between them.

Offensive coordinators and receivers coaches will usually tell you they like to have at least 10 wide receivers who are game-ready heading into the season. The Gators may not be in that position going into the 2011 season.

Based on the spring, it’s doubtful Dunkley and McRoy would have been much of a factor in the fall.

What is obvious now is that Ja’Juan Story is right up there with Driskel in terms of being one of the most important players in the 2011 recruiting class. He might even turn out to be THE most important this season.

53 COMMENTS

  1. Scary that Thompson is our most experienced receiver going into the 2011 season. He might’ve started 24 games but he has at least 30 drops, including Brantley’s first pass of 2010 (a beautifully thrown ball to Thompson streaking down the west sideline).

  2. Andre Debose: If he can stay healthy, he’s got a chance to be special

    Quinton Dunbar: I’m hope he takes his spring performance into the fall

    Omarius Hines: He is “the difference maker”. He should have a great season

    Ja’Juan Story: If he picks up the playbook and SEC speed fast, we will have a lethal group of receivers

    Robert Clark: Started becoming more reliable towards the end of last season. He should be another threat in short yardage situations. He can also be a deep threat.

    Stephen Alli, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Solomon Patton: I see them being used on designed run plays as blocking receivers. However, getting them involved in the passing game as well should be a plus.

    Deonte Thompson: Please graduate and leave!!!

    NOW…will Brantley (or any of his replacements) please throw the ball

  3. With a top 5 of DT,Debose,Hammond,Dunbar, and Hines- I see WR as a position of great strength for us. The position will become more traditional than the blocker/WB types the Urban offense required. Story and Alli should fit in quite well.

  4. Also, Chris Rainey has experience playing in the slot. Jordan Reed is exceptional with his catching abilities from the Tight End position. Jeff Demps and the other RBs can always roll out and catch passes. Oh and if we still need some bodies, Trey Burton will be happy to fill the roll

  5. Gator4life need 2 correct u on 1 receiver Frankie Hammond was our most reliable receiver last yr. the play calling was the only thing that kept him from having a monster yr. by far he was our best receiver by far.Deonte he’s done he was still dropping balls n the spring he will play because of his experience doubt it if he will get many balls his way

  6. Another thing to consider is that number 28 and number 20 looked surprisingly good in the spring game with both power and speed. Both have surprisingly good resumes and caught the ball well in high school. Number 20 was clocked in a4.32 40 at one of the camps. Give them a shot, they deserve it. What have we got to loose.

  7. Hey Robbie,

    I agree, I saw that Andre Debose wasn’t in the spring game because of a sprained ankle. I think its pretty obvious that the kid is talented. Is he not being used as one of our wide receivers though? Whats the deal? My personal thought is that he is most talented YAC receiver we have. Seems like he would be worth a look at the X position.

    Thanks

  8. Hammond has a chance to get the ball alot his route running is pretty good. O hines can dominate in mis matches with smaller dbs or slower linebackers. Hate to be negative but until further notice I have no faith in Deonte Thompson in any aspect of the offense. Hopefully we will all be impressed with Dunbar and Story. Debose please stay healthy.

  9. I’m not worried about the WRs…we have plenty of talent and I’m glad to see Alli and Dunbar stepping up…if they stay healthy then I’ll feel good about having a couple of big recieverst. Even though we don’t have a lot of experience I feel like we have some good play makers…they will make plays. Most of those guys are slot guys but we have a lot bigger problems this coming year than our WRs…it’s hard to compare them to what we’ve seen over the past couple of years because we haven’t hardily utilized our receivers, outside of blocking. Think about it David Nelson is starting in the NFL and maybe caught about 10 passes his senior year…crazy I know. Cooper had a great senior year but I think that most of you agree that with our tight ends…the new offensive philosophy will be refreshing to say the least. Go Gators!

  10. Deonte’ will have his best year yet. Yes, he has had some drops, but he’s a burner and its his time. The coaches are high on Dunbar with his size and skill. Debose will stretch the field as well, and should rack up gret YAC with his talent. Stephen Alli has the size and smarts to make some plays, and Frankie has serious skills I expect he will be a big factor, and Omarius is set to bust out. With Reed at the TE spot, Rainey, Demps, and Gillislee catching balls in the flat and dumps over the middle, we should be set as far as pass-catchers go. We just need to get the O-line set up to protect the QB.

  11. On top of that, I expect our defense to be excellent. We catch some breaks along the way, we could shock the world!!!! Of course, we need Johnny B to step up his game big time, but I’m choosing to have faith in Charlie Weis to take care of that. Thinking positive baby! Lose the negative bullshit and join me, my brothers!!!

  12. MONEYGREEN…Thanks for your input…When I made that comment, I didn’t have any stats in front of me, I was going off of my memory. I looked up some highlights from last season and I agree Frankie did have a good season. The receivers we have should be able to have a very productive season as long as they stay healthy.

    We have amazing talent and outstanding coaches. Our defense should be dominant and the offense should be very potent. The only two concerns I have are John Brantley and injuries in the trenches.

    IF JB steps up and becomes the QB we all expected him to be (I believe he still can) and IF our OL and DL is healthy, we could very well be celebrating our FOURTH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

  13. I believe Brantley will be replaced at some point this season. The only question is how much opportunity the coaches will accord to him – that is, what their tolerance threshold will be before Coach lowers [his] Boom!
    Murphy and Driskel both are superior talents to JB. Mobility aside, they have better mechanics than him; he’s got a “wind-up” that would silence Tebow’s critics!
    Murphy’s got a year on Driskel. IF they grade-out just about even, it’s probably Murph’s for the taking (WHEN the opportunity presents), IMO.
    ————
    IGTBAG!
    Cheerio

  14. If the quarterback is Brantley you will have the same problem as last year. the ball will come late and mostly high. the wind up in Brantley’s delivery allows the player covering the receivers too much time to recover. This combined with generally knowing you are going to get drilled in the ribs going for the ball will get you a lot of drops. Put the ball on the money all these kids can catch. They caught Reed’s passes!!!!!!!

  15. For the life of me WHY the HECK isn’t Stephen Alli playing more?!?! He definitely LOOKS the part. About 6’5″ or 6’6″ and 225 lbs. Does he drop alot of balls in practice or something? He seems to be the new type of receiver that defenses can’t stop-big & tall. I would love to see him utilized more. I’m tired of all of these ‘smurf’ type receivers that UF recruits when it seems as though every other team in the league has big guys. He could’ve been used alot last year near the goal line in a jumpball situation. LSU used it on UF last year when Tolliver out-jumped one of our smallish DB’s. I got excited everytime he came into the game only to be disappointed when they never threw it to him. Use him PLEASE!!!!!

  16. Brantley to Thompson sounds like a great combo for “the scout team.” The best thing that can be said about either is they are bothe Srs and will soon free up 2 scholarships for recruits who can’t help but contribute more than these 2 have!!

  17. changing coaches always bring problems in recruiting.Fact of life.Truth is Urban brought great assistants to Florida in 2005 and replaced them with poor quality.Addizio offensive cordinator proved Urban was losing it. Might be long 2011, but so be it.

  18. It really doesn’t matter if T.O. and Randy Moss were on our team if we can’t get them the ball. Coaches need to look at what made Johnny successful and tailor the offense around his strengths, instead of expecting the kid to more than he is not.

  19. A case can be made that quality of the receivers are more critical than the quality of the quarterbacks. In the Spurrier days, would the Gators have won as many SEC championships and a NC without the Hilliard’s, Anthony’s, and Green’s with their precision routes , solid hands combined with speed. I Spurrier’s offences the wide reciever timing was extremely crucial for its success

  20. Buck Johnson, BOB was RIGHT!! I think I remember in the 2010 season Thompson DID drop that beautiful bomb by Brantley. My input Debose will be a sleeper. It really dosen’t matter how good these guys are as long as Brantley is throwing it may not make it past the Defensive Line.

  21. Why don’t we give Florida’s football players a break by not criticizing them before the season starts. I believe John Brantley & Deonte Thompson have more ability than they are given credit for. I think Brantley will show his passing ability & Thompson will catch many more passes than he drops.

  22. One stat that not many people are mentioning is our kicking game. It looks like we will have a healthy placekicker this year. I don’t know how many chip shots we missed last year but I think it may have cost us a win or two. It’s tough to win when you can convert in the red zone and can’t kick a field goal. It will be nice to have one less offensive area to worry about.

  23. In 2011, the Gators fight it out with Tennessee for 3rd place, SEC East. Georgia and Carolina fight it out for the division title. In 2012, the Gators will start to compete for the SEC East title and good things will begin happening then. I believe Muschamp has the potential to accomplish great things at UF but not this year. QB, WR’s, and OL play won’t be all that great at the start of the season. I’ll be happy to see steady improvement from the middle of the season on.

  24. We have potentially great receivers and it will show if we can get someone to get the ball to them, I think if you are worrying about the receiving corp, you are worrying about the wrong thing. The QB and OL are going to determine how well or bad we are this year. All those guys at the receiving end will be great even the DROPPER, but look for REED to have the kind of year Hernandez had his last year, it’s going to be special especially if we can get the ball out of the back field. GO GATORS!!!

  25. Davido,
    Johnny hasn’t shown any strengths yet, as you might guess I’m not a big ‘JOHNNY’ fan but I would welcome a change. All the talk about him being this great QB now that Weis was bringing in the Pro-style Offense has not to this point developed. That talk about how great he was during spring practice, but you can’t win in the SEC by how you practice during the week. It will definitely help you when you get to the actual game, but you have to bring SOME game to the GAME. For whatever the reason “JOHNNY” does not perform at GAMETIME! Just my opinion!!! GO GATORS!!!

  26. If I’m not mistaken DeBose has had some issues mastering the playbook.
    Would love to see him on the field but I can certainly understand coach Meyer and coach Will not playing him if he has grasped it, yet.
    He’s real gifted, that’s for sure.

  27. Debose may leave. I really like the size and skill sets of Hammond, Hines, and Dunbar. Clark and Patton are a little small but should play well, and Alli has GREAT size and speed, he could be dangerous in the red zone. I just really wish that Brantley will make major improvements this fall, but nothing so far says he will, Tyler Murphy will be a major competitor along with Driskel.

  28. While I like and agree with much of the discussion here (and I think most of us agree that “C*ckfingers”-Thompson has shown us enough of his dubious “skills”, thankyou very much), even after losing a couple of talented prospects I think we’ll be OK at WR.
    Like Creek Gator says, what happens at QB and the O-line will to a great extent determine how well this team does overall this season.

  29. good coaching will make these problems less evident. Spurrier had little to work with his first two years. Our unheralded tight end Kirk Kirkpatrick led the team in receptions Spurriers first year with over 50 catches. The next year walk on Chris Doering was all everything. Not concerned about recievers… somebody will be coached up and step up

  30. I agree with Dru, the OL is the key to everything. To me it looks very dubious. Seems to be a patchwork group riddled with injuries. Don’t have any confidence in JB (seemed ok as Tebows back-up but that was a better OL) either way, may need to put Driskel in sooner than later to run for his life so we can move the chains like Tebow did.

  31. Reminds me a lot of 1990. Nobody had any tape on us, all we had was raw talent, and a friggin offensive genius running the offense, then it was SOS, now Weis. How’d that work out? We have much better talent now than we had in 1990, relatively speaking. Can Brantley play the role of Shane Matthews? Underacheiver turned overacheiver?
    BTW RIP Jim Mandich. God Bless You Jim.

  32. I’m hoping some of you optimist are correct.
    What I see is JB who I like , but is a disaster at QB.
    I see OL that was bad last year and will be worse this year.
    RB’s are good but w/o blocking will not be effective.
    WR that are mostly could be players. who will have to run check routes to get receptions.
    DL that looked good in spring game because OL was so bad.
    No game ready depth anywhere on defense.

    we will be lucky to go 8-5 again.

    good news is that we could win 10 games in two years & 12 games in three years.

  33. First 2011 game and the Gators are really, really flat again on offense. Will the coaches continue the same ol, same ol and hope for miracles or take some decisive action to fix the situation. We went way too long last year hoping for a frix that never came. I personally like all of the seniors and other players who have contributed but we really need star performances, not empty wishful thinking! Play the playmakers even if that means fresahmen!!

  34. Robbie, I want to regain my trust and confidence in you after you put JB as #5 in your best list. It is hard to read about a potentially good wide receiver when I am so troubled and fearful that we likely will have to watch JB on the field again. We don’t need wide receiver articles Robbie. You are wasting our time with this stuff. We need your help first and foremost with the qb issue Robbie. Here’s how you can give us this help. Start a campaign to plead with the coaching staff to start Jeff Driskel or Tyler Murphy or someone who is a athlete and a tough athlete. JB is a nice kid but pls, pls don’t mention his name again in the context of our Gator qb. It is just too painful.

  35. Andre Debose got 2 stay healthy dis year he the best playmaker on the team. Quinton Dunbar been doing good dis fall he should b ok. Omarius Hines he had a good season last year he aint goin 2 do nothing but get better. Ja’Juan Story great size and speed we just 2 hope ohio state dnt steal him from us. Robert Clark i dnt kno he used 2 play DB at dwyer i just think he playing WR cause he wouldnt C the field at DB and u kno he aint bout 2 transfer he got 2 many homeboys on the team from dwyer.
    Stephen Alli played good last couple games of the season he should C more time dis year. Frankie Hammond Jr should b our #1 WR on the team and b real solid like Louis Murphy was. Solomon Patton will b great on special teams he just got 2 find his spot and name 4 coaches will keep him on the field. LaTroy Pittman 2012 WR ESPNU 150 Watch list 6’0″ from North Marion H.S. (FL) hopefully Miami wont get dis guy. Last and least Deonte Thompson i hope dis guy learn 2 catch the ball and hopefully 4 the gators fans he wont C the field, good thing he getting his dregee cause he wont C the nfl.

  36. I believe Ali, Dunbar, Hammond and YES- Thompson- will be the most rliable W.R.’s in the 2011 season. The ‘play-action’ will be the difference, that THE MEYER ERA rarely utilized, and it creates a milli-second of seperation that the W.R. needs to break away.
    MY CONCERN IS STILL QB…Bart Starr said (paraphrase): The measure of a great QB from an average QB is how well the QB plays WHEN YOU HAVE TO WIN-HAVE TO GET A 1st down!!!
    We shall see- I can’t wait…but either way-THE W.R.’s will begin to regain the ELITE STATUS that is synonymous with FLA!
    Can the QB’s do the SAME!?!?!?!?!?!?

  37. I think this is one of our strengths from last year, didn’t really lose anybody and John Brantley (former Gatorade national player of the year) is talented and will prove it this year.
    O’line must step up and i think will, Patchan was extremely sought after coming out of high school and has showed flashes, Nixon needs to put on weight and will, he’s solid, and Robey is very talented, Guards are the question mark.
    That being said we have alot of versatile players not even listed as receivers.
    Burton, Reed, Demps, Rainey, and then our group of receivers we will be GOOD!!!!