Four freshmen to look forward to

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.

Gerald Willis

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.

Treon Harris

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.


C.J. Worton

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.


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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I would not list anyone among the freshman class. It doesn’t matter what they did in high school, the next level is very different. I’m not saying that no one in the 2014 class won’t play. The state of Florida’s depth chart is such that UF will need a couple of guys to be ready to play. I’m just saying that no one knows who will be ready to do so, you won’t know until they are in their third week under the hot August sun. That’s why you’ll never hear a coach make any predictions about anyone in their incoming class. You just don’t know who will be ready, you just know that most of them won’t be. Most will either be redshirted or play special teams for the most part. UF has to have a couple of corners contribute, but it could as easily be Deiondre Porter that is more ready to play than one of the more highly touted players. Who will be ready to contribute in a significant manner this year? Just like the coaches, we don’t have any idea.

    • Really? I hear coaches saying that freshmen would contribute all the time. Muschamp has said several times that Dawson and Tabor will play a lot this year and that one of them will probably be the starter, opposite VHIII. We do this, anyway, for entertainment purposes, if nothing else. Making preseason projections is part of college football and it’s something we enjoy doing.

  2. Gi-Gator I agree with you about it being entertaining. After all, Spurrier was correct when he said it was the talking season. I just think it’s folly to single out any incoming freshman. I think it gets fans unnecessarily excited over a player and they become disappointed when this player isn’t ready to play. As for what the coaches say before preseason drills start, you have to take that with a grain of salt as well, remember that the coaches were hyping Demarcus Robinson last year as well. He even started against Toledo. It was evident quite early on that he wasn’t ready to play. Aside from his off the field problems, he was a poor player on the field. He was the reason for an interception thrown by Murphy when he got T.Rex arms. I think the coaches realized he wasn’t ready to play then and he rarely saw the field again. Sure, some freshman are going to play, and, hopefully play well, but we’ll have to wait to find out their names.