Youth reigns on Florida Gators roster

After playing in back-to-back SEC championship games in 2008 and 2009 with an upperclassmen-laden team, Florida will enter 2011 still feeling the effects of losing such a veteran corps of players.

The Gators head into fall camp with just 23 upperclassmen on scholarship, meaning the other 49 scholarship players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores entering the season.

Needless to say, Florida lacks key experience at several positions heading into the fall.

GatorCountry.com took it upon itself to do a little investigative research to see which positions will enter the season with the most and least experience to give Florida fans a better idea what to expect in 2011 and also illustrate the areas the Gators need to focus on in their 2012 football recruiting.

We recorded appearances and starts for each of the 72 scholarship players on the roster and broke it down by position.

You can find complete results of our data in the tables below, but first we’ll summarize our observations.

The positions with the most experience are running back, defensive tackle and wide receiver.

Florida’s four scholarship running backs have combined to make 107 appearances with 31 starts. Three of the four running backs are upperclassmen with at least 25 game appearances, making it the deepest unit on the team.

Defensive tackle was close behind, as Florida’s six scholarship defensive tackles have logged 95 appearances and 31 starts. Three of the six are upperclassmen with at least 15 game appearances.

Wide receiver was an evenly mixed group, with a trio of upperclassmen with at least 20 appearances and a trio of sophomores with at least 10 appearances. The nine-player group has totaled 133 appearances with 31 starts.

The positions with the least experience are safety, tight end and defensive end.

Florida has just one upperclassman scholarship safety in its six-man group. The group has accounted for 35 appearances and just three starts.

The Gators have four scholarship tight ends with 20 appearances and just four starts between them. The group is made up entirely of underclassmen.

Meanwhile, at defensive end, Florida’s six scholarship players have accounted for just two starts in 65 appearances. The Gators have just one upperclassman defensive end.

What does it all mean?

By the numbers, it looks like the Gators will be greenest in the secondary and on the edge of the defensive line.

There is potential on both units, but a lack of experience could spell some early-season problems in those areas.

On the other hand, Florida has plenty of experience at both running back and wide receiver, which bodes well for the offense.

While the wide receivers have few proven playmakers, several have been around long enough to see the field frequently.

Additionally, the Gators should be solid in the middle of the defensive line with an experienced and talented corps of defensive tackles.

Experience on the Florida Gators Roster
ClassPlayerAppearancesStarts
Quarterback
SRJohn Brantley3013
FR-RTyler Murphy00
FRJeff Driskel00
FRJacoby Brissett00
Running Back
SRJeff Demps3922
SRChris Rainey419
JRMike Gillislee250
SOMack Brown20
Fullback
SOTrey Burton1311
FRHunter Joyer00
Wide Receiver
SRDeonte Thompson3924
JROmarius Hines267
JRFrankie Hammond, Jr.220
SO-RStephen Alli130
SO-RAndre Debose100
SORobert Clark110
SOSolomon Patton100
SOQuinton Dunbar20
FRJa’Juan Story00
Tight End
SO-RJordan Reed124
SOGerald Christian80
FR-RMichael McFarland00
FRA.C. Leonard00
Offensive Tackle
JRXavier Nixon2213
JRMatt Patchan150
SO-RKyle Koehne130
FR-RChaz Green00
FRTommy Jordan00
Offensive Guard
SRJames Wilson265
JRDavid Young160
SO-RJon Halapio157
SOIan Silberman10
FRTrip Thurman00
Center
JRSam Robey230
SO-RNick Alajajian200
SO-RJonotthan Harrison131
Defensive End
SRWilliam Green391
SO-RKedric Johnson130
SORonald Powell131
FR-RLynden Trail00
FRClay Burton00
FRTevin Westbrook00
Defensive Tackle
SRJaye Howard3112
JROmar Hunter2917
JREarl Okine160
SOSharrif Floyd132
SODominique Easley60
FR-RLeon Orr00
Linebacker
JRJonathan Bostic256
JRLerentee McCray210
JRDee Finley140
SO-RJelani Jenkins1511
SONeiron Ball130
SODarrin Kitchens100
FR-RMichael Taylor00
FR-RGideon Ajagbe00
FRGraham Stewart00
Cornerback
SRMoses Jenkins293
JRJeremy Brown1110
SOCody Riggs133
SOJaylen Watkins100
FRLouchiez Purifoy00
FRMarcus Roberson00
FRDe’Ante Saunders00
Safety
JRJosh Evans213
SOMatt Elam130
SOJosh Shaw10
FRJabari Gorman00
FRChris Johnson00
FRValdez Showers00
Special Teams
JRCaleb Sturgis3232
FRKyle Christy00
Player experience by position
PositionAppearancesStarts
Special Teams (2)3232
Wide Receiver (9)13331
Running Back (4)10731
Defensive Tackle (6)9531
Linebacker (9)9817
Cornerback (7)6316
Offensive Tackle (5)5013
Quarterback (4)3013
Offensive Guard (5)5812
Fullback (2)1311
Tight End (4)204
Safety (6)353
Defensive End (6)652
Center (3)561
Average player experience by position
PositionAppearancesStarts
Special Teams (2)16.016.0
Running Back (4)26.87.8
Fullback (2)6.55.5
Defensive Tackle (6)15.85.2
Wide Receiver (9)14.83.4
Quarterback (4)7.53.3
Offensive Tackle (5)10.02.6
Offensive Guard (5)11.62.4
Cornerback (7)9.02.3
Linebacker (9)10.91.9
Tight End (4)5.01.0
Safety (6)5.80.5
Center (3)18.70.3
Defensive End (6)10.80.3