How many freshmen will play?

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Will Muschamp’s first recruiting class was considered solid by the analyst — pretty good but not quite up there with the talent Urban Meyer brought into the fold in the Gators’ previous four or five classes.

Still, this is a freshman class that is going to have an immediate impact in some crucial areas for the Gators.

With camp closing and the season fast approaching, I thought this would be a good time to break down this class and see how many of these kids will see playing time this fall:

* Jacoby Brissett, QB — the coaches love his arm and how quickly he’s picked up the offense. He’s battling Tyler Murphy for the No. 3 spot behind John Brantley and fellow true freshman Jeff Driskel. If Brissett and Murphy are close when the season gets under way, you’d have to think Brissett will be redshirted because Murphy burned his redshirt last year. Either way, Brissett appears to have a bright future.

* Clay Burton, TE — he was an early enrollee who was trying to get into the playing rotation at defensive end before he was moved to tight end early in camp after A.C. Leonard injured his knee. With the lack of bodies at TE, Burton might have to play some this season — even though he’s a strong redshirt candidate.

*  Kyle Christy, P — He has a big-time leg and is in a neck-and-neck battle with senior walk-on David Lerner for the starting job. He figures to be the Gators punter for the next four years.

* Jeff Driskel, QB — He’s made great strides since the spring and has locked down the backup role behind Brantley. He figures to see considerable playing time early in the season. He’s intelligent, has a strong arm and the ability to make a lot of things happen with his athletic ability. He’s no threat to Brantley’s job at the moment — but he sure gives the coaches confidence that if something happens to Brantley, he’ll be ready to run the offense.

* Jabari Gorman , S — The play at free safety has not been all that stellar in camp (especially the tackling part of it), so Gorman has a chance to get in the playing rotation. He also could challenge for playing time on special teams. There’s a good chance he redshirts, though.

* Chris Johnson, LB — He was moved to linebacker a week ago and has impressed his coaches and teammates with his instincts and striking ability. With the lack of depth at LB, he has a chance to contribute. He also could be a key player on special teams.

* Tommy Jordan, OG — The coaches have been very impressed with him so far, but it’s tough for a true freshman to play on the OL. If injuries hit, he might need to play. If not, he’ll redshirt and compete for playing time in the spring.

* Hunter Joyer, FB — He’s a big, strong, physical kid and should be an excellent blocker in the future. But with Trey Burton and Gerald Christian manning the position, Joyer likely will redshirt.

* A.C. Leonard, TE — This excellent athlete enrolled early, did some good things in the spring and was the No. 2 tight end before going down with a knee injury. He’s expected to return in five or six weeks, at which time the coaches will make a decision on whether or not to redshirt him. With the lack of depth at TE, Leonard might have to play.

* Loucheiz Purifoy, CB — He’s very fast, very athletic and is pushing for playing time at cornerback, where depth is a little bit of a concern. He has a chance to play this season on defense and special teams.

* Marcus Roberson, CB — He’s been one of the stars of camp, and we’re not just talking about the true freshmen but the entire team. Muschamp said earlier in the week that he has a chance to start at cornerback. Even if he doesn’t, he’s going to see significant playing time this fall.

* De’Ante “Pop” Saunders, CB/S — This quick and talented early enrollee brings great versatility to the secondary. He can play corner and safety. He was moved to safety earlier this week and Mushcamp said he has a chance to start. He’s going to be a key contributor in the secondary this fall.

* Valdez Showers, S — He has not drawn the praise that Roberson, Saunder and Purifoy have, but the coaches like his speed and athletic ability. He’s trying to work his way into the playing rotation at safety, but he appears a strong candidate to redshirt.

* Graham Stewart, LB — He has been one of the surprises of this class. He’s strong, aggressive, instinctive and has shown some leadership qualities. With the lack of depth at linebacker, there’s a good chance he’s going to contribute this season.

* Ja’Juan Story, WR — His name popped up early in camp, but he has not been mentioned lately by Muschamp or anyone else. He’s a big, talented athlete, but he’s still behind the learning curve at what is a new position for him. Still, he has a chance to push his way into the playing rotation at wide-out.

* Trip Thurman, OG — Like Jordan, Thurman has drawn praise from Muschamp and he’ll be a contributor on the offensive line, it just won’t be this season.

* Teven Westbrook, DE — Unless injuries hit on the defensive line, Westbrook will redshirt this season so he can increase his strength. He’s a very good prospect.

37 COMMENTS

  1. I still don’t understand the logic in thinking that this is going to be a “rebuilding” year. We went 8-5 with a bowl win last year. We did that in spite of having a coaching staff that checked out, an O coordinator that couldn’t out scheme a pop warner team, and the ultra fail three-headed QB experiment. Not to mention, we had a pretty fractured team in terms of chemistry. We had the talent to compete, but the coaches did not put us in positions to succeed. We should have won another two games last year 10-3 isn’t a bad record, certainly nothing that could be considered a rebuilding year, even with a new coaching staff. I think the Gators are going to surprise a lot of people outside of Gainesville. I don’t think a 10 win season is going to be as hard to achieve as people think. I have faith that the fire and excitement that Urban lost last year has been returned two-fold by Coach Boom. We also have a very competent OC who knows what he’s doing. When are you better at doing your job? When you enjoy being there, or when it feels like a job? These kids are back to having fun. I think the rest of the college football world is making a big mistake putting the Gators on the back burner. Go Gators!

  2. Jenkins came in and played like a stud his freshman year. Let’s hope Roberson duplicates that without the pot issues!

    FYI, tell Lerner to contact David Garrard. He plays QB with Crohn’s disease. He could probably give him tips on dealing with it.

  3. Spot on Drewbert. To me the key is QB performance, and this year Brantley will at least be put in a position to succeed. Despite the great record under Urban I never did understand all the hype about the spread offense. It essentially revolved around one player, Tebow, and once he wasn’t on the field it’s shortcomings became evident, especially with our tiny running backs. There are so manny good athletes on this team – 5 Five Star prospects on defense for example. I agree that this team will surprise.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Drewbert and disagree more with Arvinator. UF could be the Auburn of 2011. If Brantley can perform like he has in practice and keep the confidence and swagger all the players say he has, UF has a team that can win this year. They’re deep at QB and they look good in the backfield with tons of experience and speed. Receivers are catching the ball and showing consistency. They have a great FB and good TEs who can catch. That’s a lot of weapons to choose from. The defense lacks experience, but has tons of talent and they seem to have great chemistry. UF could have the best front 4 in the SEC and the LBs are fast and hard hitting. The secondary is probably UF’s biggest weakness, but we’ve all heard great things about them and how well they’re playing. They have a great kicker and it sounds like they have a really good punter. The coaches are some of the best in the business. They’re having to teach a new scheme, which is difficult, but they’re not trying to do too much. In every aspect they could be solid, but with depth issues, an injury could really derail things. Plus we don’t know how well their schemes will work in the SEC, but I’m cautiously optimistic about this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if they make it to Atlanta.

    Go Gators!!!!

  5. We do have a lot of weapons, but as the pundits have been harping upon, if the offensive line plays like it did last year, we are going nowhere fast. Given far less experience that may be the case. On the bright side, I think our offensive line was probably not as bad as they played. I think it is more difficult to be a coherent offensive line in a spread scheme. We pulled it off in the previous years due to Tebow’s mobility, which kept the defense at bay or burned would-be tacklers when they tried to come with the heat. I think last year’s line could’ve been fine with a more traditional offense like we will run this year. Given that, I think that perhaps the play of the offensive line will be less critical, unless they are pretty awful. If they can play Mississippi State quality, I think 10-3 is in the cards.
    I am excited about the season, and I really wish Brantley all the best. A good year this year will provide a lot of redemption for a lot of folks.
    Go Gators!

  6. The gators will be the shocker next year I see us winning 8-10 games. But I’m leaning on 10 wins plus a trip to Atlanta. I’m sure our schedule looks pretty tough but like Drewbert stated last year we should have won 2 more games. Not to forget we have an Kicker kicking this year lol

  7. JB is going to get it together this year and the Gators are going to have a solid season. The defense is ging to be better than most people think. If they can keep the momentum built after the first few blowout wins, they could become a very confident and dangerous team to play. Watch out Gators

  8. I’m not nearly as optimistic as some of you guys are. Last year was disappointing primarily because of the offensive line (which had 4 senior starters) and the steady decline of Brantley’s confidence. This year I think we go 8-4, finish 2nd in the East to either South Carolina or UGA (but we somehow find a way to beat UGA….again), go to a NYD bowl and beat up on a Big 10 team like Iowa or Michigan State.

  9. I have a question for the sportswriters on this site..We read about the weight gains and the weights of the players and when the rosters come out on gatorzone ..they are never anywhere near what we read about. Trey was to be up at around 240+, they list him at last years 220…why is it so hard to put the correct info out there???

  10. UFgatorinJax: WOW! Where to begin. Nat’l champs like last year’s Auburn team? Really……Seriously? Deep at QB? After Brantley who’s confidence was shattered after being hated and booed by all Gator fans last year there is #2 (Driskel) and probable #3 (Brissett) who combined have a total of 0, yes 0 snaps under center at the college level. No time to really dissect the rest, cause it pretty much follows suit. Just please promise me that you will rejoin reality at some time. And don’t forget, the facts are not something to be scared of, they actually do matter.

  11. Typical gator fans: optimistic and unrealistic. Your team will be extremely fortunate to crack 8 wins. In fact, if they can manage to win 2 of the 3 games against SC, FSU and UGA I would just thank the football gods and pray another Tim Tebow comes along. You had the perfect storm of Tebow, Harvin and Meyer, and now they’re gone. Yes, the D-Line is going to be excellent, but excellence on the 2011 gator team pretty much ends there, unless you count the genius of Charlie Weis and perhaps Mr. Two-Bits, though I can’t remember if he’s still doing that little skit anymore at the games. Enjoy the season. The gators will be good again someday–just not till at least next year.

  12. Bama runs a pro style O and they Play the 3-4 D so yes THIS SYSTEM will work in the the SEC. I like ur nickname of “Coach Boom.” I like our team but 10 wins is a lot. R schedule is pretty tough. I don’t think this year and maybe nextyear too. BUT I do BELIEVE Coach Boom will bring an NC to the Gatas and maybe 2 especially if coach Weiss stays with his son for 4 years.

  13. Imagine these 2 freshman QB’s we got learnin for 2 years under Weiss then WM having 3 years of recruits we should be lookin bad ass 2013-2014 Back 2 Back??????????????????? Like the Lakes!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  14. I am not onboard with the “disappointing and going to be a rebuilding season” remarks either.
    Last years problems of fractured team chemistry, Coach Urban’s Health issues, and failed coaching tactics were just that, last years! And, this is Not Last year or Last Years TEAM!
    This years team will be very tuff, hard hitting, and well coached! Hopefully we will be able to keep healthy. As that will probably dictate the outcome of our season. I think it will be a exciting and can’t wait for it to get under way. I do think we will surprise some teams with our Fiscal Play! The Gator’s are back! I love this coaching staff! John Brantley will be his old self in this offense and the defense will ROCK! GO GATOR’S!! GO COACH BOOM!!

  15. I hope Brantley turns into Aaron Rodgers , but……. Tebow,Cam Newton, Aaron Murray!, McElroy etc. across the NCAAfield would allow their offenses to turn in such loser performances …while JB directed ours so awfully that coach-minds were driven to the lunacy of using a combo of sub-QBs trained as RB-Burton & TE-Reed ??? and pre-announcing to defences how to rush & cover us.
    Inthe spring game JB performed worse than all SEC 2nd-string QBs including our own. Truly solid QBs do not do that. Yeah new offense-schemes… like Ga. freshman Aaron Murray was using his old tried & true.
    None of above mentioned QBs did that.
    There is not-so-hidden danger here!!!!!

  16. We should be better, because we will be COACHED this year. I buy that Urban “cared” last year, but he was held back by doctors and the misses, and the other coaches were checked out already-witness what happened at the Outback Bowl, when the players on O refused to get off the bus if they were going to have to be hit in practice! Good grief!
    The big issue, as a previous poster has stated, is our health. We have about 10 less on scholarship than most teams, and a young team(but talented) as well. How many times in this article did Robbie say something like “he is a RS candidate but may need to play due to lack of depth”?

  17. I agree with Drewbert. I was terrribly dissapointed in thge coaching last year. When i can sit on the couch and tell you what play is coming next. You bet an SEC defensive coordinator can. I think we will be better on both sides of the ball. I think 9-10 wins is very reachable if we stay healthy. GO GATORS!

  18. The Gators basically have six games that they’ll win for certain: FAU, UAB, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Furman. Nothing is a guarantee, of course, but those six should be Ws. So the other six – Alabama, LSU, Auburn, UGA, USCe and F$U – are what will determine how successful the Gators are this year. I think it’s very reasonable to see them winning three of them, for a 9-3 record and a decent bowl game. Can they steal one or two more? We’ll see.

  19. Looking forward to the FAU game in 2 weeks. I think the Gators will do just fine this season. I’m ready to watch some Gator Football!!
    Great to see a local Gainesville guy David Lerner be named starting punter. What a great story about what that kid has overcome just to be out there on the football field.

  20. Since when is rebuilding “disappointing?” You lose four senior starters on the OL, and you rebuild. We have lots of reloading to do in other areas, especially the secondary. So what–I hope for greatness anyway. We have lots of talent on this team, but they will be facing the best players in college football. Forget predictions and numbers of wins– sit back and enjoy the process. Envision how different the play-calling will be. Look forward to Coach going “Boom.” I am pumped for another great year. Go Gators!

  21. PS– I hope all the armchair QBs hatin’ on Brantly choke on thier own Kool-aid. I think he has great talent and desire, much of which was obscured by last year’s ufortunate offensive system. Now that he no longer wears the Addaza-tross around his neck, I believe he will soar.

  22. This Gator team is playing with a huge chip on its shoulder this season, and the coaching staff wants to make its mark in its first year.
    That’s not a good place for the rest of the SEC to be.
    With the talent we have, look for stars to emerge on both offense and defense who will carry this team to 10 plus wins. We will march into Atlanta for the SEC championship.

  23. We will have a rough season for one simple reason: we are suspect on the offensive line. Being tough, talented, and better coached cannot overcome having a mediocre O-line. Both sides of the ball, everything starts with the line. We are a year or two from dominating the line on both sides, until we do that, forget Atlanta.

  24. I think Florida could go undefeated and here’s my reason why….ppl really want bama to be THE TEAM but you are never the same when the guys who made you are gone and bama lost to many to the NFL…LSU is still coached by les miles, ugh is still coached by mark r., s. Carolina is over rated and will play the same like they have the last 7 years..avg!, msu is a fraud…

  25. someone is calling for an undefeated season? LMAO! How many times has that been done in school history? 1. And you’re expecting a brand new coaching staff w/ a first time HC, the same offense dressed differently, and a team minus 3 All-Americans (Pouncey, Black, Jenkins) plus other experienced OL.. to match that. Get a grip man. It’s funny how ridiculous some of you are, then you get confused when Steve and Urban walk away from this.

  26. I agree C3, except the number of undefeated seasons is ZERO! You have to go all the way back to 1998 just to find a season we went undefeated against the SEC West! Rooferman is spot on. The O Line is our Achilles. The season is going to wear us down and depth will become a problem and probably at a few positions. The CB/S are going to give up some big plays. The D Line and Runners will keep us competitive. 8-9 wins is probably right. We’re going to lose one we should have won and win at least one we shouldn’t. There won’t be a lot of hardware this year, but I’m totally looking forward to the season. There’s going to be a lot of cheering and screaming. The entertainment value (which is what it’s all about) is going to be VERY HIGH! GO GATORS!!