WR a potential problem area in 2012


When you look back at all the great wide receivers Florida has put on the field dating back to the start of the 1990s, it is shocking to see how little talent the Gators have at wide receiver this spring — and it’s not going to change in the fall.

In breaking down the wide receivers for the media the other night, new offensive coordinator Brent Pease mentioned only four — and that really catches your attention. He said he was probably leaving somebody out (he was), but the reality is the guys he did not mention likely will be little or no factor in the passing game in 2012.

The overall lack of proven playmaking ability at wide receiver is downright scary. Pease is hoping to generate a consistent passing game that produces some explosive plays. But the burning question is: Who is going to make those plays?

The bottom line is the Gators lack elite, impact players at wide receiver. There are two guys who have a chance to become playmakers, but both have a long way to go to gain that status.

The Gators lack numbers and talent at wide receiver.

Here’s a look at the wide receivers Pease mentioned the other night:

* Andre Debose, Jr. — He was the go-to guy last season, yet he caught only 16 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a tough guy to figure out. He’s obviously a gifted athlete with great hands and speed. But he’s been plagued by injuries and an overall lack of consistency. One game he looks like an elite receiver, the next he disappears. He’s once again battling injuries and has not done much so far this spring, according to Pease.

* Quinton Dunbar, So. — He was the talk of preseason camp last summer, then he flopped in the fall. The way the coaches were talking about him in two-a-days, the expectation for Dunbar was that he would be a consistent playmaker and the Gators’ biggest home run threat. But once the season started, he was basically a non-factor, catching only 14 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Pease said Dunbar has shown great improvement already this spring and with a year of experience he could be ready to take off. There’s no guarantee, though.

* Frankie Hammond, Sr.  — The coaches love his work ethic and consistency, but there is nothing flashy about his game or the numbers he’s put up in his career. More of a possession receiver than a big-play threat, Hammond caught only 15 passes last season and has only 41 for 514 yards and three touchdowns in his career.

* Latroy Pittman, Fr. — The early enrollee is a very good athlete who has pretty good speed and hands. He’s very raw at the moment and has a great deal to learn before he’s ready to make plays in the SEC.

Here’s a look at the scholarship wide receivers Pease did not mention:

* Ja’Juan Story, RFr. — This former high school quarterback is still in the early stages of learning a new position, and he’s extremely raw. He has speed, size and impressive athletic ability, but like Pittman, he has a long, long way to go. He’s done little to distinguish himself so far this spring.

* Solomon Patton, Jr.  — This undersized athlete has turned into an excellent special teams player, but he’s done almost nothing at wide receiver. His role likely will not change much in 2012. In his two seasons at UF, he’s caught only seven passes for 62 yards.

* Stephen Alli, Jr. — This little-known high school prospect was an Urban Meyer project that has not worked out. His size and speed have helped him do some things on special teams, but he’s been no factor at wide receiver. In two years, he’s caught three passes for 17 yards in mop-up duty.

Here’s one more who comes on board in the fall:

* Raphael Andrades, Fr. — This three-star prospect from Tallahassee Lincoln was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class after the Gators missed out on some WRs that were much higher on their board. He has some size (6-foot, 190 pounds) and some speed (4.5 in the 40), but like Alli, he’s going to be a little bit of a long-range project.

It’s a little bit scary when you look at what the Gators have (or don’t have) at wide receiver. Where are the plays going to come from in 2012?


  1. Okay chicken little, did you formerly post on GSMB as Ryan Joseph? The sky is not falling and our receivers do, in fact, have talent. It was our previous QB, OL and OCs that were the problem. Pease didn’t mention Patton or Alli as they’ve been injured. Nothing in your column mentions that. And as J. points out above, you also neglected to add TEs to your article about receivers. Well, TEs catch the ball too. I hope our guys prove you wrong in the Fall.
    El Barto

  2. Why can’t Omarius Hines get any credit? He may not be a burner, but he has a knack for making plays. Reminds me of Stephen Baker a little. And I hate to say it, but you reference last year’s stats to indicate lack of production, and we all know the problems we had at the QB spot. The passing game stunk, and the numbers reflect that. Doesn’t mean there’s no talent.

  3. “* Andre Debose, Jr. — He was the go-to guy last season, yet he caught only 16 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns…….. He’s obviously a gifted athlete with great hands and speed.” WELL OBVIOUSLY!

  4. Your right about QB and our passing game that stunk John, but do you see it being any better this year? I sure don’t!!! With us having little to no experience at WR, it could be worse. I just hope our D can keep us in games to give our special teams & Sturgis a shot. Robbie you are 100% correct in this article ” who is going to make the plays”?

  5. I have thought out WR have largely underperformed since Meyer came, the exception being Percy Harvin. As an example, Louis Murphy. He was not a factor until his senior year and then has excelled in the NFL. Before Meyer we always had one or two WRs step up every year to take the place of someone who left. What is the difference before Meyer vs. after Meyer hire – Dwayne Dixon. At least that is how I see it. At the time of Meyer’s hire I thought it was a mistake Dixon was not retained. Was there an inside reason why or was it just that Meyer wanted to bring in his own person?

  6. Expectations for next year must be realistic. Offensively the Gators are not going to show significant improvement. What is needed is time and a top-notch class with plenty of offensive talent. It can and I believe will be done but on balance the Gators will be a second-tier team in the SEC-East in 2012.

  7. Robbie, I totally disagree wih your assesment thus far. Last year we had no QB and know O-line to give anyone time to do anthing. the run will set up the pass. we relied too much on perimeter running plays last year . Once that was figured out we tried to pass everydown and got sacked a bunch due to suspect play calling and a patch work o-Line. We will have more plays as Pease will be able to create and disguise plays. we should be really balanced this year. John was also afraid to take chances down field. We are going to take shots this year pal.

  8. I don’t get it, we jump on these journalists constantly about over-hyping our talent, over-hyping our recruiting prospects, and all the ‘feel good’ nonsense…Robbie, you are very much on point here, we are thin and lacking with the development of our receivers (not on coaches either) and a very real concern; forget about the spring because as you mentioned, I do not see any reason right now it will change this fall. Somebody needs to step up in a big-time way.

  9. Recievers are always open and a corner can only cover for three seconds without having to adjust. In a two deep zone there is always under neath routes open. It is up to the coach to coach the qb to identify mismatches and up to the qb to audible and identify coverages on the field. All successful qb’s do this effectively no matter who is on the recieving end. You can not always blame recievers for the lack of a passing game. They should be the last position to blame on an offense for a poor passing game. These same recivers would go to any other school with a formidable qb and put up huge numbers. Sure these recievers are not proven but how many balls have been thrown their way on time or by design? Oh that’s right not many. Half of those were over thrown, intercepted or to a tailback. With more opportunities and better creativity we should be better numbers from the recievers. There is a reason elite recievers keep passing on us. They are not sold on who is throwing it to them plain and simple. If we had Matt Barkley,we land Agholor and Diggs. So lets stop blaming recievers for our passing woes and lets hope Pease can develope one of these qb’s to be more efficient. Go Gators!!!

  10. I agree. It has been more of a QB problem than a WR problem. When the QBs start hitting them in the hands, in stride, on a consistent basis, then we’ll know if it’s the receivers from the drops, if they occur.

  11. Outside of Debose we have no talent at WR. One of several reasons we will have another terrible year this year. Most of this mess is urban Meyer’s fault but soem of WR is on Muschamp who struckout on many top WR prospects this past year.

  12. I agree with Gatorbread.

    Robbie, your assessement is completely innacurate. We have a tremendous amount of talent at the receiver position; however, where we lack is total offensive output and leadership at the QB position. Brantley was less than adequate in running the offense. Both QB’s (Brissett or Driskel) will surpass Brantley’s touchdown totals by mid-year. Both of these QB’s add a different dimension (scrambling) to the offense which will open the doors for big receiving plays. There will be marked improvement this season.

  13. This is just crazy! We had a terrible QB last year who had cement in his shoes and played like he was on drugs. We have WR’s that are not motivated. Plain and simple, Pease will creatively motivate by getting the ball to them in open spaces. Yes, defenses in the SEC shrink those spaces, but they are still there. Timing routes are what have made Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning into what they are. Get rid of the darn ball…to a playmaker….qiuckly…

  14. just maybe the lack of production at WR and the whole offense as a whole might be trace back to the play of the qb whose been starting the last few years…florida has talent at the wr spot they just need a qb who can get the ball to them and run the offense right…no disrespect to john brantley but he just wasn’t that good.

  15. The lack of production by Gator’s WR in the past may be more of a lack of previous coaches/offensive coordinators to adjust their “systems” to the strength of the existing talent. Brantley’s 1st year was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, Last year – Charlie was out of place at Florida and did not live up to expectations. We will not truly know how things will work out until after the first few games are played in the fall, that is SEC games. Patience is a virtue though many Gator fans may not agree! I am looking forward to the new OC’s impact on Florida’s offense this fall!!

    Go Gators!!

  16. Robbie,
    WELL SAID, SIR! I, too, think that FLA is going to be hurting for certain in the W.R. area. It seems to me, that since their most coveted recruit picked Maryland – they didn’t have any other options available after that… Lesson LEARNED – I hope! And furthermore, they (FLA) won’t EVER land a top-recruit UNTIL they can prove to the world that they’re going to be UTILIZED more than the W.R. were LAST year! I hope they can start proving that Muschamp’s system is NOT just GOOD ‘D’ and win by 3…otherwise – this will be an ongoing issue for FLA, unfortunately. Debose and Story and others should get the ball more this year, but when you can’t even get 1st downs, and you’re moving Hines to R.B. well, enough said! Here’s to hoping it all changes! GO GATORS!

  17. Muschamp the honeymoon is over! Win or get out! UGA game is a must, SEC champs is a must and we must play in a BCS game (more money to the school to buy better player). UF is a school that plays for rings not gator bowls.

  18. Again, the Gators have failed to notice Chandler Register, WR/QB at Lambert High School in Cumming, GA as he has the speed and soft hands that the Gators may need for 2013. Just sayin….

  19. Hey fellows! Im all with ya bout this muschump thang ! foley should have NEVER turned over an elite program to a chump w/o head coaching exp. .. its shameful, ignorant & beyond comprehension how this has happened ! I blame foley to be the one responsible for it.. the way things will play out this year, it will force foley to fire foul-mouth billy boy & get a REAL coach… if he waits & things go down, it will only take a longer time to recover.. After the ga. game, he SHOULD be gone !!!!!