Assessing what’s left of the Florida Gators’ football roster

The Florida Gators are a depleted football team at this point. Here’s just how much injuries and suspensions have wiped out the roster.

Florida has 79 scholarship players, not including guys sitting out transfer years or former walk ons who were granted scholarships like Cristian Garcia. Nine of them are suspended, as we all know. Seven more are out for the year with injury, and another seven are hurt and either are unlikely to play or definitely will be out against South Carolina.

That leaves just 56 scholarship players for this coming weekend. The FBS limit is 85, so one more absence will put the Gators a whopping 30 scholarship players below the maximum. In FCS the limit is 63 full scholarships, so UF is shorthanded even by that level’s standards.

Here’s rundown of each position’s status. The letters after each name denote suspensions (S), out for the year (O), or injured (I).

Quarterback

Available: Malik Zaire, Feleipe Franks
Not Available: Luke Del Rio (O), Kyle Trask (I), Jake Allen (I)

The good news is that the available guys are both of the former 4-star recruits by the 247Sports Composite that UF has at the position. The bad news is that one of them has played his way to the bench twice this year. Del Rio would be the starter if he hadn’t gotten hurt, and Trask would’ve had a chance to play for the role if not for his foot surgery.

Allen being out doesn’t matter a whole lot, as he was always slated to redshirt this year. His being hurt only becomes a concern if both Zaire and Franks go out hurt. Which, given how this year has gone, is not entirely unthinkable. I need to go find some wood to knock on.

Running Back

Available: Lamical Perine, Mark Thompson, Adarius Lemons
Not Available: Jordan Scarlett (S), Malik Davis (O)

The top option hasn’t played a snap this year and may or may not play again for Florida. The second-best option is arguably gone too depending on how you rate Davis versus Perine. Perine is the clear leader here, but it’d be nice to have a second guy on his level to put out there too.

Wide Receiver

Available: Tyrie Cleveland, Freddie Swain, Josh Hammond, Brandon Powell, Dre Massey, Daquon Green
Not Available: Antonio Callaway (S), Kadarius Toney (I), Rick Wells (S), James Robinson (O)

For the third consecutive position — if you count Del Rio as such for quarterback — the top option is gone. Toney is probably the third-best given his ability to make something from nothing, but he’s out too. Wells being out is something of a wash given that past suspension and injuries have severely hampered his career at Florida so far.

Cleveland coming back will only help as he gets better, and Massey seems to have a better shot at being targeted for catches with Zaire in than Franks. This unit could’ve been so much more if both Callaway and Toney were going to be on the field, though.

Tight End

Available: C’yontai Lewis, DeAndre Goolsby, Moral Stephens, Kalif Jackson, Kemore Gamble
Not Available: N/A

Here it is, folks: the one unit with no one missing.

Offensive Line

Available: Martez Ivey, Jawaan Taylor, T.J. McCoy, Fred Johnson, Kavaris Harkless, Tyler Jordan, Antonio Riles, Stone Forsythe, Nick Buchanan, Andrew Mike, T.J. Moore
Not Available: Brett Heggie (O), Kadeem Telfort (S)

This unit had been hanging in there until Heggie began missing time. He was out with a concussion previously and now is gone for the year after surgery. Given that he’s just one of four linemen who have done reasonably well this year, it’s a terrible blow.

The fact that Jordan is listed as the top backup for three positions shows how little they have to work with. Johnson has never nailed down the starter’s role at right guard, and he’s been rotating with Riles recently. The last four names in the “Available” category either don’t play meaningful snaps of have never played at all.

At least the tackles have stayed healthy. Telfort was looking like the best backup tackle in the fall until his uncovered transgressions likely ended his football career.

Defensive Line

Available: Cece Jefferson, Taven Bryan, Khairi Clark, Jabari Zuniga, Antonneous Clayton, T.J. Slaton, Luke Ancrum, Kyree Campbell, Elijah Conliffe, Zachary Carter
Not Available: Jordan Sherit (O), Jachai Polite (I), Keivonnis Davis (S), Jordan Smith (S), Richerd Desir-Jones (S)

Despite being down five guys, this position group is weathering the storm fairly well. Losing Sherit is bad from a leadership standpoint as well as playing quality, and Polite has shown some signs of excellence this year. Davis would’ve been in the rotation had he not been suspended. That’s three defensive ends down, but they still have Jefferson, Zuniga, and Clayton there.

The tackle spot is essentially unaffected, as Desir-Jones was never going to be a regular contributor anyway.

Linebacker

Available: David Reese, Vosean Joseph, Jeremiah Moon, Rayshad Jackson, Lacedrick Brunson
Not Available: Kylan Johnson (I), Nick Smith (O), Ventrell Miller (S), James Houston (S)

This position was perpetually thin under the previous coaching regime too, but at least it was supremely talented in its diminished quantity. Being low in numbers means Cristian Garcia, who lacks nothing in effort but isn’t really an SEC-caliber linebacker, is listed as a reserve at every backer spot on the depth chart. This position is in the most dire shape of any.

Defensive Back

Available: Duke Dawson, Marco Wilson, Chauncey Gardner, Jeawon Taylor, CJ Henderson, Brad Stewart, Donovan Stiner, Shawn Davis, Joseph Putu, Brian Edwards, C.J. McWilliams, McArthur Burnett
Not Available: Marcell Harris (O), Nick Washington (I), Quincy Lenton (I)

With safety play being a huge issue this year, Florida has badly missed Harris. Washington at least brought the all-too-rare perspective of a veteran, but he hasn’t been able to get well lately. Except for Dawson, this unit is entirely staffed by guys who either played sparingly and recorded single-digit tackle counts last year (Taylor and Putu) or who are true freshmen. It sure looks like it’s being played by young and green players, too.

Wrapping Up

Toss in Johnny Townsend and Eddy Piñeiro, and those are your Florida Gators for this weekend. The losses have piled so high that only one player who is available didn’t make the depth chart (McArthur Burnett, who also was missing from last week’s depth chart but did see the field against Missouri).

Tight end, defensive line, and the specialists are the only positions where we can really say that the attrition isn’t seriously affecting things. This assessment also doesn’t factor in past absences like when Cleveland couldn’t go for a few games there in the middle of the season.

It’s hard to think of any team that could go into a game with only 56 of its scholarship players and not suffer greatly. Even Alabama would have issues with these circumstances. If the Tide was down three scholarship quarterbacks, it’d have to turn to walk ons because that’s how many it has.

The Gators have 29 former blue chip 4-star and 5-star recruits by the 247Sports Composite. With seven of them gone, about a quarter of them will not see the field. Four more are true freshmen who haven’t played and appear likely to redshirt this year, while another will be the backup quarterback. That means only 17 former blue chip recruits will be participating against the Gamecocks. There was once a time when the Gators would sign more than that in a single recruiting class.

Believe me, I’m not trying to make excuses for a roster lacking quality depth to begin with, questionable coaching decisions, and lousy player development. I am pointing out, however, that a major part of this season’s collapse is the fact that a third of the roster — including some of the best players on the team — is simply not suiting up to play anymore.