With the Orange and Blue Debut in the rear view, the Florida Gators football team enters the doldrums of the off season. The team will workout together through the off season with the strength and conditioning staff but Jim McElwain and his coaching staff are solely focused on recruiting with the spring evaluation period beginning.
With that in mind Gator Country will go over where the current roster stands, what the depth chart looks like, and how the 13 incoming freshmen will fit in at their positions when they arrive on campus in June.
We’ve hit on quarterbacks, defensive ends, running backs and today we’ll check in on Florida’s defensive tackles.
Senior — Joey Ivie
RS Junior — Caleb Brantley
RS Sophomore — Khairi Clark
RS Sophomore — Taven Bryan
Sophomore — CeCe Jefferson
RS Freshman — Andrew Ivie
Questions heading into spring
How will the Gators replace Jon Bullard? Bullard anchored the defensive line last season for the Gators and his versatility played a pivotal role in everything the Gators’ defense was able to do in 2015. His departure leaves a huge hole in the middle of the line and Florida needs to find a replacement for that production.
What we learned
Caleb Brantley appears to be ready to have a breakout season in a big way. Brantley was downright unblockable throughout the spring camp and he’s thriving under the coaching of Chris Rumph. Brantley credited Rumph’s coaching technique as part of the reason he’s turned the corner. Brantley is a potential first or second round talent and he’s going to draw double teams in 2016.
The next thing that popped out was a position change. CeCe Jefferson moved inside, but that progress was slowed by several injuries Jefferson had to deal with during camp. If Jefferson stays inside he gives Florida two elite players at defensive tackle, with a strong group of players to fill in.
Joey Ivie missed time last year with a hernia, and was slowed somewhat this spring recovering from surgery, but he’s developed a lot during his four years in Gainesville. Ivie is a starter quality player, and the likely starter next to Brantley if Jefferson slides back outside.
Khairi Clark and Taven Bryan will both factor into the rotation here as well. Florida doesn’t have a real run-stuffer inside, but Clark’s size makes him the obvious candidate. Clark will play a 0 or 1 technique, where Florida needs him to control the gap and command double teams. Clark has yet to show on the field that he’s a player who commands a double team. Bryan continues to add size to his frame and maintain the speed and quickness that is his best attribute. How far Clark and Bryan progress will determine if Florida’s interior defensive line can be really good or great in 2016.
The Gators have two elite players in Brantley and Jefferson. Florida would like to have the ability to move Jefferson inside and out. Jefferson has the ability and the desire to learn and put in the work. The question is, how will the supporting cast behind the two unfold.
Joey Ivie is a seasoned veteran and one of the hardest workers on the team. If he stays healthy all season he’ll have the best year of his career. After him we haven’t seen enough of Clark or Bryan yet to have a good sense of the kind of season they can have. Both have the potential to be good players; we’re just waiting on them to show it on the field. After bouncing back-and-forth from offense to defense, Andrew Ivie will need more seasoning before he’s ready to contribute and incoming freshman Jachai Polite appears to be a redshirt candidate.