With the freshmen class enrolled in school, and the football season around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the Florida Gators depth chart heading into the season. Gator Country took a look after spring practice, but with an influx of talented freshmen, things have been shaken up some. Today we take a look at the offensive skill players before turning our attention to the offensive line and defense.
QB: Will Grier, RS Freshman | Treon Harris, Sophomore
The battle for the starting quarterback job is a two horse race and Will Grier took the lead after the spring and remains there down the home stretch. There is no need for Head Coach Jim McElwain to name a starting quarterback until he has to; and that may not even be before the first game against New Mexico State. A situation where both quarterbacks get playing time in the first two games before a true starter is named prior to the first road trip at Kentucky is a very plausible outcome.
When the smoke clears, Gator Country expects that Grier will be the starter for the Gators.
The Rest: Josh Grady RS Senior | Jacob Guy, RS Junior
Grady spent most of his time at Vanderbilt flip-flopping between quarterback and receiver. McElwain has stated that Grady will play quarterback but with only one year to play and the future of the position in place, it’s tough to see what role Grady will have at signal caller. Jacob Guy enjoyed moderate success during spring camp but his inaccurate arm places him fourth on the depth chart, destined to hold a clipboard this season.
RB: Kelvin Taylor, Junior | Jordan Scarlett, Freshman
Taylor carried the ball 166 times last season (second most on the team) and his six rushing touchdowns were tied for the team high. Heading into his junior season, Taylor is finally out of the shadow that Matt Jones and Mack Brown cast over him the previous two seasons but the question remains to be seen if Taylor has become a complete back. His knowledge of the playbook and blocking kept him out of certain packages in the past and, thus, off the field.
A 4-star recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas, Scarlett is a complete back. He has a good combination of size, power, agility and speed and he can block, an area where most of Florida’s running backs have failed. Expect Scarlett to earn the backup job and eventually split carries with Taylor as the season progresses.
The Rest: Adam Lane, RS Sophomore | Jordan Cronkrite, Freshman | Mark Herndon, Senior
Lane and Herndon are the veterans in the group. Herndon is returning from a knee injury but should be ready for the season. Lane is coming off of the best game of his career, a game that earned him MVP of the Birmingham Bowl but still figures into this mix as the third running back. Cronkrite could be heading for a redshirt this season or could be a special teams player as a freshman.
TE: Jake McGee, RS Senior | C’yontai Lewis, RS Freshman /DeAndre Goolsby, Sophomore
The clear-cut leader here is McGee. As Coach McElwain tries to implement a pro-style offense in 2015 he will be without a true tight end for that style of offense but McGee is far and away the most balanced player at the position. His combination of size, strength and pass-catching ability has him figured in to be a key contributor to the offense. Lewis and Goolsby are very similar players. Neither will be asked to block a ton but both players can be a threat in the passing game. Lewis’s height (6-4) and leaping ability could make him a huge redzone target and Goolsby’s ability to run with the ball could allow McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier some room for creativity with his play calling.
The Rest: Moral Stephens, RS Freshman | Bair Diamond, RS Junior
Both Stephens and Diamond are complimentary pieces at this point. Stephens has a lot of developing to do and is likely a year or two away from making an impact. Diamond, a walk on, played in one game last season (Eastern Michigan) and doesn’t really figure into the mix much this season.
WR (X): Demarcus Robinson, Junior | C.J. Worton, Sophomore
This could be the last we see of Robinson in Orange and Blue. A junior, Robinson had more than double the receptions of any receiver in 2014, his seven touchdowns accounted for more than 35% of all the receiving touchdowns last year and his 810 receiving yards were more than the next three receivers combined. Robinson is an athletic freak who has a ton of ability. He was hampered some by his quarterbacks a season ago but with an opportunity to impress NFL scouts, he will look to have a breakout season.
Off the field issues kept Worton off of the field for the most part his freshman campaign. If Worton can stay focused off the field he has all the ability to be a very good receiver for Florida. He’s a good route runner and has the best hands on the team. He may not be as physically gifted as Robinson, but Worton may be the best pure receiver on the roster.
The Rest: Raph Andrades, Senior
Andrades played in just two games as a sophomore and didn’t see the field last year as a junior. He continued to find a role on special teams and should fill the same role again this season.
WR (Z): Ahmad Fulwood, Junior | Chris Thompson, Junior
Fulwood played in all 12 games including five starts as a sophomore. He caught just 12 passes for 199 yards, with his highlight coming on an 86-yard screen pass that he took for a score in the Birmingham Bowl. Fulwood has underrated speed for his size and is a big target. He’s improved his route running and timing but he’ll need to fend off some of the younger players and earn his playing time.
Thompson played in 10 games last season catching two passes. He was the special teams player of the game against Vanderbilt but was relegated to special teams for most of the season. He’ll likely be relegated to small packages that can utilize that speed on offense and, once again, will be a mainstay on special teams.
The Rest: Alvin Bailey, RS Sophomore | Kalif Jackson, Freshman
Bailey saw action in six games last season at wide receiver and on special teams. Bailey’s speed is his biggest ally and McElwain showcased that with a flea-flicker in the Orange and Blue Debut. Bailey could get some more time on offense in plays designed to utilize his speed on the edge but will likely continue to make his biggest impact on special teams.
Jackson has a lot of growing to do as a receiver and will likely redshirt this season.
WR (Z/Slot): Brandon Powell, Sophomore | Latroy Pittman, Senior
The coaching staff has fallen in love with Powell as a person and as a player. Powell came to Florida as a running back and you can see that type of vision and ball carrying ability when he has the ball in his hands. Right now, his route running leaves a lot to be desired but McElwain tipped his hand, showing that he will get creative with different ways to get the ball in Powell’s hands in space. Powell is the early front-runner to be Florida’s breakout star in 2015.
The Rest: Antonio Callaway, Freshman | Valdez Showers, RS, Senior | Ryan Sousa, RS Freshman
Callaway is coming off of a knee injury but is close to 100 percent, if he’s not already there. Callaway is a very good slot receiver with good hands but will likely see time on special teams as a freshman. Showers, bounced from offense to defense in 2013 but had just one carry and two receptions as a junior. He has a unique set of skills, he has good hands and is good after the catch, but he really needs a coach who can scheme him into good matchups and positions. Sousa needs to continue to develop. He had a lot of bad drops in the spring and looks like he needs another year or two to develop.
Stay tuned as Gator Country will break down the offensive line on Thursday and the defense on Friday.