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.