The true freshmen who redshirt in the fall are usually forgotten by the middle of the season. But now that the start of spring football is only about a month away, they are back on the radar and back ready to start competing for playing time.
Here’s a look at some redshirt freshmen who have a chance to make a big impact in the spring and next season for the Gators:
Taven Bryan, DE — I’d pretty much forgotten about this kid until I saw him on the sideline late in the Birmingham Bowl. He is an impressive-looking athlete. Big, thick, strong and, from what I’ve been told, plays with a very high motor. He should push for serious playing time at a position of need. I also think he has the frame (and athleticism) to grow into a big-time offensive tackle if things don’t work out for him on defense.
Khairi Clark, DT — With the Gators deep and solid at defensive tackle last fall, Clark had a chance to redshirt and gain strength in the weight room last fall. He figures to be a sure bet to get into the playing rotation, where there’s a lack of experienced depth.
Travaris Dorsey, OG — Dorsey did not carry his 310 pounds all that well during preseason camp in August. But he’s had a chance to turn a lot of that bad weight into good weight and he’ll challenge for a starting role at one of the guard positions, where the Gators have serious depth issues.
Will Grier, QB — He is a very polished passer with a lightning-quick release. He and true sophomore Treon Harris will wage what is expected to be a very close (and very intense) battle for the starting role this spring and likely into the fall. Grier appears to be UF’s best pure passer. He’s also a good enough athlete to make some plays with his legs.
Thomas Holley, DT — One of the highest-rated members of the recruiting class, Holley will push for a starting role at the depth-shy tackle positions. He’s a very quick and agile player for his size (6-foot-4, 290), qualities that also allowed him to excel in basketball in high school.
J.C. Jackson, DB/WR — Jackson was in a position to earn playing time as a true freshman at cornerback, but the decision was made to redshirt him due to a shoulder injury he sustained in high school. He also was a standout wide receiver in high school and likely will get a long, serious look at the position in the spring. UF lacks impact wide receivers, and he has a chance to become one if the spring experiment is a success.
Andrew Mike, OT — He has a great frame (6-7, 290) and is a very good athlete, qualities Mike Summers could do wonders with in time. He’s still very raw and needs to develop strength, but he has a big up side and could crack the playing rotation at tackle, where depth is a concern.
Justus Reed — With the loss of Dante Fowler Jr. early to the NFL draft, the Gators are looking for pass rushers, and Reed has a chance to be a good one. He’s quick and athletic and has had an opportunity to gain weight and strength since he’s been here.