Depth fuels Florida Gators wide receivers

The wide receiver room might be the deepest the Florida Gators have, and it is certainly one of the most talented.

With players like Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, Trevon Grimes, Tyrie Cleveland and Kadarius Toney headlining the show, Florida has a number of options at its disposal at all times. And all of them provide something different.

That is huge for continuing to build the confidence of quarterback Feleipe Franks. Knowing that he can throw it at any receiver on the field rather than searching for that one guy who can go make a play makes Florida’s passing game all the more dangerous.

“I think there’s talent and there’s depth, which is important,” said head coach Dan Mullen. “Because if you have one or two talented guys, you’re either spending all your time trying to move them around to make sure they’re the only ones who touch the ball, and then people are scheming against those specific players. Where if you have some depth the board, which I’d rather have, you can take what the defense gives you.”

But the players mentioned earlier aren’t the only viable options. Guys like sophomore Kyle Pitts and redshirt freshmen Jaylin Jackson and Jacob Copeland (once he’s healthy) are also working for a spot in the rotation.

That means every day is a competition, and it will continue to be that way through fall. No one can afford an off day because there’s someone else right behind who could easily replace them.

“I think it keeps guys on their toes, man,” Jefferson said. “You never know, that guy can come in and take that spot. So, I just think you gotta go out there every day and work hard and just give it all you got. Just have that thought in the back of your head that somebody can catch up to you. That’s why you gotta keep grinding.”

With that being said, there is room for playing time for all of them in 2019.

Mullen has made it clear that the Gators will spread the ball around just as they did last year and fresh bodies will be kept on the field. Some will get more snaps than others, but with so much depth, there is no reason to play anyone to the point of exhaustion.

Florida’s receivers understand that their individual stats might not lead the SEC, but this system gives them a chance to make better plays when the ball does come their way.

“The competition is about snaps and being on the field more,” Mullen said. “I think those guys have a great understanding that, ‘I might not want to play 70 plays in a game because I’m not very effective in doing that.’ I think they understand more that there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for everybody and take advantage of your opportunities while you’re out there on the field and you’re going to be a lot fresher, healthier and a better playmaker at playing 40 than playing 70 in a game.”

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Bailiegh Williams
Growing up the daughter of a baseball coach in a household that revolved around Gators sports, Bailiegh’s future working in sports was her destiny. She played four years of varsity softball at Suwannee High School and one year on softball scholarship at Gulf Coast State College. In her first year she discovered a love for journalism so she packed her bags and moved to Gainesville to finish her A.A. and begin interning for Gator Country. She is now on track to graduate from the University of Florida in 2019. In her free time, Bailiegh enjoys binge watching her favorite TV shows and spending time with her family and her two fur babies.