What was once a rare occurrence is becoming more of the norm in college football. More and more high school athletes have made the decision to trade in their senior prom for a chance to get onto a college campus early.
In just the last two seasons, the Gators have had 14 players elect to enroll early and the benefit of doing so is readily seen. D.J. Humphries enrolled early last year, saw extensive time as a freshman and is now listed atop the depth chart at left tackle. Latroy Pittman and Antonio Morrison are two more players who enrolled early in 2012 and saw playing time as freshmen. Pittman remains in the mix at wide receiver this season and Morrison is listed as the starting Mike linebacker.
New defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin spoke briefly about the benefits of a player enrolling early; “We’ve got eight mid-year guys that came in here. To watch those guys out on the field is exciting.” Durkin continued, “ They look like guys that can really can come in and contribute right away.”
With the benefits of enrolling early so evident, whom should you be looking at to make an early impact in 2013?
Starting on offense, Kelvin Taylor should be able to parlay his early enrollment into playing time as a freshman. In his press conference today, Will Muschamp expressed confidence in Matt Jones, but also mentioned how Taylor has adjusted to college life. “Kelvin Taylor’s been a guy we’re real excited to have on campus. He’s done a nice job of transitioning.”
While Muschamp said that he thinks Jones is a guy who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game, there are plenty of carries to go around in Florida’s offense. The Gators ran the ball a season low 30 times against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl and a season high 58 times against LSU. There were only four games last season where Florida ran the ball less than 40 times. If Taylor can pick up the blocking schemes he should be able to produce enough this offseason to earn significant playing time as a freshman.
Demarcus Robinson was another early enrollee that was singled out. Robinson is as athletic of a receiver as the Gators have had in quite some time and instantly gives them a playmaker at a position of need. When asked about the talented wideout, Muschamp said; “He’s looked good in the offseason program as far as athleticism and those sorts of things.” Muschamp continued, “Some of the corners we have are pretty good, so it will be interesting (to see) as we progress through. But as far as some of the things I’ve seen athletically, certainly I’m excited about what I see.”
Florida lost Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic to the NFL, but there are some early enrollees who could vie for playing time and fill in for those two leaders of the defense.
In the spring depth chart released today, Alex Anzalone is listed as the backup at Mike linebacker. Anzalone is a long, athletic player who has the frame to add additional size. Daniel McMillian is another player who is benefitting from getting on campus early. McMillian is listed as the backup Will linebacker and is listed at 227 pounds, up from the 220 pounds he was listed at in high school.
“Alex and Daniel have both looked good in the offseason program” Durkin said. “They’ve looked good running around in shorts and we’re excited about getting them out on the field.”
Despite losing so many key players on both sides of the ball this offseason, the Gators look set to re-load rather than rebuild and the early enrollees are a big part of that.