Grading the Gators: O-line and D-line

In our final installment of Grading the Gators we take a look at the meat and potatoes of the Gators recruiting class; the lines of scrimmage.

11-of-24 signees were either offensive or defensive linemen and after the attrition that Florida suffered this offseason, all 11 of them are a welcome sight to Will Muschamp and his coaching staff.

We’ll kick things off with the big hogs of the offensive line.


Offensive Line (6):

(EE) Nolan Kelleher (6-6, 305, Mount Pleasant, SC, Wando)

Kelleher is a very smart offensive lineman. He graduated Wando High School with enough dual-enrollment and AP classes that not only did he get to school early, but he’s already done with a semester of classes. After this semester and the summer, Kelleher will almost be a sophomore in the classroom before he even steps on the field.

That intelligence shows on the field. Kelleher can and did play all five positions along the line in high school but he looks like a guard at the collegiate level. Kelleher will gives the Gators depth along the interior line and could even be used in a pinch this season.

Spivey’s Take: Kelleher is the most underrated prospect the Gators signed as he has the ability to play all 5 positions on the field and succeed at them. Kelleher is a very smart football player and I think he will make people happy at guard.

Richard’s Take: Powerful but plodding. When you watch him on tape he is powerful man at the point of collision, but as he gets older offensive line coach Mike Summers will probably look to work on his footwork.

Muschamp’s Take: “Another guy we’re real excited about, 6-6, 305, that really shows some good movement skills out there.”


(EE) Kavaris Harkless (6-5, 275, Jacksonville, FL, Trinity Christian)

Harkless had his bags packed and was in Louisville, Kentucky ready to enroll early with Charlie Strong’s Cardinals. Then Strong took the head-coaching job at Texas and Harkless had a change of heart. He called his high school coach and then placed a call to Muschamp, who was happy to take his commitment. Less that 72 hours after arriving in Louisville, Harkless was moving his things into a dorm in Gainesville.

Harkless has a prototypical body to play left tackle but at just 275 pounds, he will need a redshirt before he’s ready. He looks like a promising player who will take Muschamp’s ideal offensive linemen projection of a redshirt year, learning year and then be able to compete for a spot as a redshirt sophomore.

Spivey’s Take: Harkless needs a year to beef up some but with good arm length Harkless should be able to play right tackle in the SEC once he gains the needed weight.

Richard’s Take: Has a nice first step in run blocking and has a frame that will likely add 30 pounds on it by the time his career at Florida is over. Will he lose his pop as he gets bigger?

Muschamp’s Take: “Kavaris Harkless, all three offensive linemen that are heading here we’re really excited about, 6-5, 6-6 kid, he’s got a lot of length.  He needs to continue to build on his body, but is going to be a guy that’s going to be a really good player for us.”


(JUCO EE) Drew Sarvary (6-6, 318, Tallahassee, FL, North Florida Christian/FAMU/Tyler JC)

Sarvary’s clock is ticking. He’s got just two years to crack the lineup and make an impact. Time may not be on his side but he does bring something that the rest of the offensive line recruits don’t have: experience.

Sarvary has college experience at tackle but based on the film that I have seen of him would be better suited to play guard. He is violent at the point of attack and a good run blocker but, like Richard, I don’t think Sarvary will be able to handle a good speed rush (similar to how Tyler Moore struggled a year ago) and that he will be better suited inside. He is tall, but not too tall to slide down inside and give the Gators depth at guard.

Spivey’s Take: Like any other juco prospect Sarvary brings experience and leadership to Florida and the ability to play the guard position in the SEC and tackle if need be. Sarvary has good feet and the ability to get to the next level quickly on a defense.

Richard’s Take: Worries me against a speed rush. Does not look like he would be able to play well the farther he is from the ball on the offensive line.

Muschamp’s Take:Drew Sarvary has done a nice job coming in here, 6-6, 318.”


David Sharpe (6-6, 315, Jacksonville, FL, Providence School)

A 5-star offensive linemen according to most recruiting outlets, Sharpe has a great frame but is a raw talent at tackle. Sharpe has a long way to go as a pass blocker but can hold his own as a run blocker.

While I think Sharpe has a long way to go as far as refining his technique, you can’t teach 606, 315 pounds. Sharpe is very athletic and played basketball in high school. He’s flirted with the idea of playing two sports at Florida but I think he’ll quickly find out that playing one sport and maintaining the body he needs to play left tackle in the SEC will make it hard for him to get on the hardwood.

Sharpe looks like a project kind of player but someone who could be the future after tackle after D.J. Humphries’ eligibility is exhausted.

Spivey’s Take: Sharpe is the prospect with the highest ceiling in this class and once he gains weight he could become an All-SEC type of player at tackle. Sharpe has all of the tools to play left tackle but just needs to develop better feet and flexibility but you can’t teach his size.

Richard’s Take: Big. That’s the first word that comes to mind when you see the 6-7 offensive tackle. My question with him is the same I had about Trenton Brown: does he have the technique to succeed at his size at this level?

Muschamp’s Take:He’s a guy that I think, again, he will continue to improve, and his best football is ahead of him, because he’s still very young at the game.  He hasn’t played a lot of the game.”


Andrew Mike (6-7, 280, Tucson, AZ, Sabino)

Will Muschamp said it himself; the Gators lucked into getting Mike on campus. Mike was most likely headed to Washington before a coaching change derailed that destination. Coleman Hutzler had recruited Mike while he was on staff at New Mexico and Mike Summers knew of Mike while he coached at USC a season ago.

The Gators threw on the tape and Muschamp was impressed enough to offer him a scholarship. Even after the offer, Mike pledged a commitment to Vanderbilt. He backed off of that offer on the night before National Signing Day and pledged a commitment to the Gators. While Mike’s commitment signaled that the Gators were likely missing out on another offensive line prospect that they coveted, Mike is a good prospect and potentially the best offensive lineman in the class.

Spivey’s Take: Mike is much like Kelleher, in that he’s very smart on the field and can play guard or tackle but he’s going to start out at tackle at Florida.

Richard’s Take: When you watch Mike climb to the second level on tape he almost seems to have a magnetic pull to whatever overmatched linebacker he’s about to bull over. Very good feet, very quick feet as well, he’s a big body that doesn’t look awkward at 6-7.

Muschamp’s Take: “We put the tape on him.  Coleman had a background with him, Mike Summers knew about him when he was at USC, and we really liked what we saw, the length and the athleticism and the girth and the size potential as much as anything.  So just a guy that we kind of lucked into, to be honest with you, we’re really pleased with.”


Travaris Dorsey (6-3, 310, Jacksonville, FL, Raines)

Dorsey is a guard through and through.

On paper. Dorsey has good size but he needs to slim down as it appears he has a lot of bad weight.

Dorsey is a project, in my opinion. He’s a player that will need to redshirt a season and will take a couple of years to adjust to the speed of the game. He has potential to be a starter down the line but isn’t a player that will make an impact next season.

Spivey’s Take: Dorsey is a monster at guard but needs to shed a few pounds in order to get lighter on his feet. Once Dorsey losses weight he will be in the rotation at guard in my opinion.

Richard’s Take: Not where he needs to be in pass blocking, but a very physical run blocker. My question with Dorsey: is he such an effective run blocker simply because he’s always been bigger than everyone (315 pounds coming out of school)?

Muschamp’s Take:Travaris is a powerful guy.  Two years ago we were looking at him, he has a really good lower body, punch and power.  You turn the tape on, he gets movement all the time up front.  But a guy that’s ‑‑ he’s a 320‑pounder, guy that’s got some good length on his arms.  I think he has 34‑inch arms.  So he’s got some reach up front to be able to push the pile inside, a square guy that gets a lot of movement.”


Quality Grade: A

The Gators get a lot of size and a lot of depth with this recruiting class; and boy, did they need it After losing Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison and Ian Silberman, the Gators needed a big offensive line class and that’s exactly what they did. I think Sharpe, Harkless, Mike and Kelleher will all turn into very reliable starters in Gainesville.

Quantity Grade: A+

Florida was down to nine offensive linemen before this recruiting class. Getting in six healthy bodies brings the Gators to the lower portion of their ideal number of 15-17.


Defensive Line (5):

(EE) Taven Bryan (6-5, 260, Casper, WY, Natrona County)

Bryan played offensive and defensive line at the high school level but the Gators want him on the defensive side of the ball. A very athletic lineman, Bryan shows tenacity and a relentless pursuit of the ball carrier on film.

He’s quick off of the line and looks good coming off of the edge. He’s a hard worker and will impress the coaching staff with his work ethic and athleticism.

Spivey’s Take: Bryan is one of the least talked about prospects in the country but is one who’s going to work hard and once he adds weight should be able to help as a pass rusher at the defensive end position.

Richard’s Take: Not very explosive in a phonebooth, but in pursuit you see his speed. A unique ability to chase down skill players.

Muschamp’s Take: Taven Bryan, 6-5, 260 pounds is exactly what we wanted as far as a big athlete. You watch him go through the off‑season program, he’s explosive, he’s got really good flexibility in his lower body.  He’s got a great motor, a great work ethic.  We are extremely pleased with him so far in what we’ve been able to see.

Khairi Cark (6-2, 325, Hollywood, FL, Chaminade-Madonna)

In my opinion, Clark has a tendency to disappear during games at times. He can be a game changer and a run stopper but needs to be more consistent.

He will need to lose some weight and Jeff Dillman will make sure he does. However, the Gators like to play multiple defenses and Clark looks to be the prototypical nose tackle that Florida can use in a similar role to a player like Omar Hunter from two seasons ago.

Clark is good at the point of attack but needs to work on getting off of the line a little quicker. He moves surprisingly well for a player of his size but I think he could stand to lose 10-13 pounds and maintain the strength that he has, if not improve his strength by losing some baby fat and replacing it with good muscle.

Spivey’s Take: Clark must lose some weight before he will able to play in the SEC but once he does he will be a guy that will clog the middle of the line.

Richard’s Take: Comes packed with a devastating punch at the point of attack, also shows he gets off of blocks well.

Muschamp’s Take:Khairi Clark is a 6-2, 6-3‑1/2, 320‑pounder that moves very well.  He’s got really good lower‑body flexibility, so he can change direction.”


Thomas Holley (6-4, 295, Brooklyn, NY, Lincoln) 

Holley, who was Penn State bound before coaching changes, is a player that Gator fans are going to love.

Holley has only played football for two years but was invited to The Opening this past summer and was an Under Armour All-American.

Holley is a Dominique Easley type of player who can make an impact at tackle in a 4-3 scheme or slide outside and play end in a 3-4. He’s quick off of the line and powerful.

The sky is the limit for Holley who will only continue to learn, grow and get better. That’s a scary thought for opposing offensive linemen.

Spivey’s Take: Holley has a tremendously high ceiling because he’s only played football for two years and is already one of the best tackles in the country. Holley is someone that requires a double team to stop him, which opens up the hole for linebackers.

Richard’s Take: Raw power comes to mind when thinking of Holley. A strong bull rush but also sheds blocks quite well.

Muschamp’s Take:Thomas Holley is a 300‑plus‑pounder that plays on Abraham Lincoln’s basketball team in Brooklyn, which says a lot to be on that starting five where I think three guys are signing Division I off of that team tells you what kind of athlete he is.  There’s no question you can never have enough defensive linemen.”

Justus Reed (6-3, 220, Clearwater, FL, Clearwater Central Catholic)

Reed was too much for high school offensive linemen to handle and that showed during his senior season where he tallied double-digit sacks. However, he’s a project for the Gators.

Reed was recruited to play the BUCK position for the Gators but he lacks the size that he’ll need to take on SEC-sized offensive linemen. Reed has good lower body technique as a rusher but needs to work on using his hands better. Reed is a player that will take a few years to catch on but has potential to become a rotational player and is someone who will give the Gators depth.

Spivey’s Take: Reed was recruited as the BUCK linebacker in this class and he has good speed that showed this past year when he had double-digit sacks.

Richard’s Take: Very athletic and elusive defensive end. Has a first step that puts him in a blocker’s lap before the ball even gets to the quarterback, will need to add considerable weight on the second level, but if he can keep his athleticism as the pounds are added he will be a force.

Muschamp’s Take:You gotta look at two years from now.  Probably would be best for him to redshirt.  And he’s going to be a 235‑pounder and be able to carry that, and then he’s got the explosive power to go with that.  So that’s kind of what you’re looking for, especially at that position, a guy that’s kind of a hybrid outside linebacker, defensive end.”


Gerald Willis (6-3, 270, New Orleans, LA, Edna Karr)

It’s been a while since the Gators went down to the Bayou and brought a player back to Gainesville but Willis is worth the wait.

Willis is a very athletic pass-rusher but is more than capable of standing up against the run. He’s a smart player with a high football IQ. Willis uses his hands well when pass-rushing, something that players usually have to be taught when they get to college.

Where he is right now, Willis is best suited to play on the outside at end but he has a long frame that can hold additional size and he will grow into a Dominique Easley type of player that the Gators will use at end as well as tackle. He’s versatile and a name that Gator fans will know sooner rather than later.

Spivey’s Take: Willis is the pass rusher the Gators needed in this recruiting class as he has elite speed off of the edge, plus the ability to play against the run. Willis should be in the mix to play next year.

Richard’s Take: Florida’s coaches hope they’re getting the second coming of Dominique Easley in this defensive end trapped in a defensive tackles body.
Muschamp’s Take:He’s an explosive guy, he’s got good girth; he can play blocks.  He really uses his hands very well, better than most high school defensive linemen.  He really uses his hands.  Those guys will be given every opportunity to step in and help us.”


Quality Grade: A

This might be the most impressive (next to corner) of the units that the Gators hauled in. I think Holley and Willis will be All-SEC and All-American type of players. Clark and Bryan will contribute early and have a lot of potential to grow into all-conference type of players as well. This is a great haul and really revamps the Gators defensive line.

This is a case where the Gators got quantity and quality.

Quantity Grade: A

The Gators needed pass rushers and they got that. Clark might be stuck behind guys like Caleb Brantley, Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick but he gives Florida incredible depth on the inside. Willis is the pass-rusher that Florida needed and Thomas Holley has star written all over him as well.



Overall Class Grade: A –

Florida had a lot of holes to fill. They needed quarterback depth (got 2), they needed offensive line depth (got 5), a dominant pass rusher (Willis) and corners (got 5).

You would have loved to add some guys here and no doubt there were some huge misses (RB Dalvin Cook, DE/BUCK Lorenzo Carter, ATH Adoree’ Jackson, S Jamal Adams) but the Gators got a lot of quality depth and they have the potential to have game-changing players come out of this class.

The class included the heir apparent at quarterback in Will Grier but Florida also landed a huge flip from Treon Harris. Harris is a player who will push Grier and so talented that the Gators will have to find a way to get him on the field in 2014.

Jalen Tabor is going to be an All-American type of cornerback across from Vernon Hargreaves and the rest of the defensive backs in this class are no slouches either.

There are only two deficiencies that I see in the class; no safeties and no difference makers at wide receiver.

Florida took a big hit when long-time silent commit Jamal Adams flipped and pledged a commitment to LSU. Adams is one of the smartest safeties in the class and would have made a huge impact early on at Florida. I like CJ Worton and Ryan Sousa but neither are difference makers, at least not right now. However, I don’t think Ermon Lane (flipped to FSU) would have been a difference maker as a freshman either.

Overall the Gators filled a lot of needs and they filled them with a mix of quality players and guys who can be game changers.

Being able to assemble this class after the miserable season that Florida produced in 2013 is astonishing. The coaching staff had three changes and were still able to put together a class that just about any school in the country would be pleased with.

Now it’s time to turn around and show it on the field.

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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