Four days; count them. There are just four days (roughly 96 hours depending on when you’re reading this) until the Florida Gators football team reports to fall camp to kick off the 2014 redemption tour.
Yesterday, we previewed the five biggest positional battles, and today we bring you four freshmen that will play significant time this season.
Florida’s 2014 recruiting class was chalk full of talent on both sides of the ball and after a 4-8 season, the depth chart is wide open for some of those players to step into big roles this season.
Willis showed up to campus with a little extra size than when I saw him in person at the Under Armour All-American game. He’s impressed the coaches with his attitude and I have been told that Willis has a real edge and a mean streak to him on the field and in the weight room.
Currently, he’s likely to fit in playing defensive end, maybe a little buck linebacker, but with additional size added, he can be a player like Dominique Easley who plays both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Gators.
Currently, Jonathan Bullard will likely have to split time between end and tackle until Caleb Brantley shows he’s ready to step up and contribute. Florida needs more bodies on the defensive line and they have a very good, albeit it very young player in Willis.
Harris was an absolute steal for Kurt Roper, Will Muschamp and the Gators. People close to the team say that Harris has impressed everyone with his ability and that Roper will certainly have plays specifically drawn up to get Harris involved early.
At SEC Media Days, Will Muschamp said then need to develop a backup behind Jeff Driskel early on in the season, so expect to see Harris early and possibly often as he becomes more comfortable with the speed of the game and playbook.
A south Florida boy like Harris, Worton was also a late addition to the recruiting class. Worton has looked good and is a very good fit as a slot receiver in Roper’s offense.
Based on how things shook out in the spring, he will be competing with Latroy Pittman and Valdez Showers for playing time in the slot. Pittman has four receptions in two seasons, 14 less than Valdez Showers had in his first season on offense a year ago.
Worton is college ready; he runs good routes and has solid hands. He’ll get every opportunity to earn playing time this season and he will make an impact.
Duke Dawson/Jalen Tabor/J.C. Jackson
Ok, I cheated and gave you six players, not four. But these three can and should be lumped together because of the need at cornerback and the way Muschamp rotates his cornerbacks throughout the course of a game. Also, I bet dollars to donuts that when the fall depth chart comes out there will be a big, fat, “OR” listed between these three players.
As we talked about yesterday, the spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves is wide open and these three freshmen are going to fill it.
Dawson and Tabor will battle it out this fall for a starting job, while Jackson continues coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, but make no mistake about it, you’re going to hear the name J.C. Jackson a lot this season.
Jackson is a dynamic talent who will be featured on special teams as a gunner, as well as a potential player to return kicks and punts. Jackson could also play offense as a wide receiver if the Gators needed him to. Oh, yeah, Florid recruited him as a cornerback, and that’s where he’ll make the biggest impact this season.
Expect to see Hargreaves plays most snaps and most series and for the three freshmen to rotate in opposite him. Muschamp has shown that he will play the hot hand, so whichever one is named the “starter” doesn’t mean much. They will all play a ton this season.
For all the Florida Gators football news from Gator Country and Nick de la Torre, join today.