We have survived the early entry deadline and the only casualty for Florida’s big three was Percy Harvin. He is arguably the most explosive player that has ever put on a UF uniform. Think about the Ricky “The Rocket” Nattiel combined with Fred Taylor and Willie Jackson and you have Harvin. Speed, vision and fearlessness are the attributes that defined those great Gators and he has all of them.
Harvin’s three years on campus are marked by a pair of SEC championships, two national championships and at least one touchdown in each of his final 15 games in a Gator uniform. We wish Harvin the best in the NFL and I am sure he is going to be a great one as long as his heel, ankle, foot or whatever holds up.
Brandon Spikes coming back is a great call by this kid. First of all he will receive the hype and recognition he deserves with being a first team All-American. He will be the odds on favorite to win the Butkus Award and probably two or three other important trophies. He has flown completely under the radar nationally the last three years. Spikes could also improve his lateral speed in the off-season. I have also heard rumblings with featuring him as a rush end in passing situations and maybe even in a 3-4 look. Regardless, he is a big reason why the Gators should be one of the favorites to win the national championship in 2009.
Tim Tebow returning was not a surprise to me at all. I always believed he was a four-year guy. Coming off surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, Tebow will have a light spring practice ahead although with only two scholarship quarterbacks available he cannot take as much time off as he would like.
I am hearing he may get a look under center more in practice just to prepare him for the NFL. I don’t see UF changing anything it does offensively, but in the spring they may experiment with that some and that could translate into something they use in certain situations down the road. They will also add more to the drop back passing game. Tebow was better this year in my opinion than he was in his Heisman Trophy season of 2007 when he was putting up those outrageous numbers. Statistically speaking, Tebow was better in 2007 but as an overall quarterback and leader, he was superior in 2008.
THIS AND THAT: There aren’t many jobs up for grabs in the spring with 11 starters returning on defense, but some battles could emerge on offense. The running back job will be interesting especially if Emmanuel Moody can make a push. You have to think he will be given every opportunity to emerge as a force because someone has to replace the rushing yards that are lost with Percy Harvin’s departure … Wide receiver will be very important from the standpoint of finding a replacement for Harvin. I have to believe it is going to be a big spring for Deonte Thompson, who has the kind of speed that stretches defenses … From a numbers standpoint, the offensive line is overflowing but I Marcus Gilbert (right tackle) and James Wilson (left guard) as guys emerging from the pack … From the SEC office, UF’s title gives the SEC three national championships in a row and five in eleven years of the BCS. Ironic that the Auburn Tigers were left out in 2003 or it could have been six. Meyer is the only two-time National Championship coach in the SEC. Les Miles (LSU), Nick Saban (Alabama) and Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) all have one championship. The league is the only one in the country with FOUR coaches that have won national championships … The SEC finished with four teams in the top 15 of the final polls, which is the most of any conference. During the last three bowl seasons the SEC is 19-7 … Since 2004 Florida is 51-14 in the SEC … UF’s offense finished first in rushing (231.1 yards per game), total offense (445.1 yards per game) and scoring offense (43.6 points per game) in the SEC. UF’s defense finished third in total defense (285.2 yards per game) and first in scoring defense (12.9 points per game) in the SEC. Florida was the number one red zone offense and the number two red zone defense … Nationally, the Gators finished tenth in rushing offense, 15th in total offense and fourth in scoring. Defensively, they were ninth in total defense and fourth in scoring defense … The last time the SEC had a losing record in the bowl season was 1992 when the league finished 2-4 … The SEC has the best BCS winning percentage with a record of 12-5 … Tim Tebow will enter the 2009 season as the nation’s active career leader in touchdowns responsible (110; 67 passing, 43 rushing) and rushing touchdowns (43). Tebow has 8,427 yards of total offense (6,390 yards passing, 2,037 yards rushing). In Florida football history, Tebow is ninth all-time in passing yardage, fifth in touchdown passes and fifth in total offense … Brandon James now ranks second among active career leaders nationally in punt return yardage (1,127 yards) and punt returns for touchdowns (4). The national leader is Javier Arenas of Alabama with 1,254 yards and six returns for touchdowns … Nobody in the country had more interceptions than Ahmad Black (7), who had 191 return yards and two touchdowns. Only Tennessee’s Eric Berry (also 7 interceptions) had more return yards (265).