In 2018 the NCAA instituted a rule that would allow student-athletes to play in four football games while still maintaining their redshirt eligibility. Previously a player that appeared in any game would have lost the opportunity to use a redshirt.
Dan Mullen has been a champion of this new rule for multiple reasons and took advantage of it last year.
“The motivation for guys to get into games and go play, the depth for guys to go in and play and not potentially burn a whole year because of injury situations where, ‘I need this guy to come up because we’re thin at this position’ so this guy’s got to play and then all of a sudden everybody’s back from injury and now he’s dropped back down the depth chart and they can still redshirt that year,” Mullen said. “I think it’s a tremendous rule for the benefit of student-athletes.”
The Gators played five true freshmen (Mohamoud Diabate, Kaiir Elam, Jaydon Hill, Griffin McDowell, Khris Bogle) in the first game against Miami, mostly on special teams. This week the Gators play FCS opponent UT Martin. The Gators can’t overlook any opponent — as displayed when Georgia State beat Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend. Still, if the Gators do what they need to do on Saturday and play to the standard the coaches demand of them it should provide an opportunity to get some younger players in the game Saturday.
Here are five players we’re looking to see more of if given the opportunity against UT Martin.
The Gators’ secondary didn’t have its best game against Miami. Florida only gave up 214 yards but there were some missed tackles and penalties that helped keep Miami in the game. It was Marco Wilson’s first time back on the field since tearing his ACL and Wilson will be better moving forward. C.J. Henderson and Trey Dean will be fine moving forward but Henderson and Wilson could both leave for the NFL and the Gators’ need to keep developing at their position.
Elam is a Gator legacy and great player in his own right. He’s the next man up in a long line of great cornerbacks at Florida.
The 6-6, 216-pound pass rusher from Cardinal Gibbons still have some filling out to do but Bogle earned playing time against Miami and he has a lot of promise. Bogle is behind some older guys at BUCK but Jon Greenard is a graduate senior and Jeremiah Moon is a redshirt junior, so Bogle’s role in the future will be huge.
As a recruit White showed up to a visit at Florida tipping the scales at 400 pounds. He’s down to around 330-340 pounds now and second string. White’s transformation shows his commitment to playing and his dedication. The Gators offensive line did a good job in pass protection against Miami but didn’t bring much in the way of creating lanes for the running game. If the Gators can get a lead White is a player we definitely want to see in action on Saturday.
Like Bogle, Diabate is a young pass rusher who is waiting his turn on defense. Diabate got his first taste of action against Miami on special teams but he’s a talented, multi-faceted linebacker. Diabate is an intriguing prospect in that he can be a pure pass rusher but he also has the ability to cover as well. He has a bright future that we will hopefully get to see more of on Saturday.
The Lakeland high school tight end was one of the highest-rated and most anticipated recruits in the last recruiting class. The Gators have some veteran tight ends ahead of Zipperer but it hasn’t been a position, outside of Kyle Pitts, that has inspired a lot of excitement or production. Zipperer has a ways to go as a blocker, but so does everyone else in the room. He’s a talented pas catcher and could be a great addition in an h-back type of role in Mullen’s offense.