Published February 10, 2013 - 11:50amNEW: Follow on facebook -
Biggest Needs: Florida loses 12 total starters heading into next season, and the biggest absence on offense will no doubt be running back Mike Gillislee. Gillislee gave the Gators’ offense an identity of toughness, and he had a great senior season, carrying the offense throughout 2012. In addition to Gillislee, tight end Jordan Reed was Florida’s biggest playmaker in the passing game, and he’s off to the NFL. But above all, the passing game needs a makeover with receivers who can create any type of separation in the passing game and better pass blocking along the offensive line.
Florida’s defense, however, has to replace seven veteran starters. None are bigger than safety Matt Elam, linebacker Jon Bostic and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. All total, Florida loses three defensive linemen, two linebackers and two safeties, leaving the heart of the defense needing to be replaced. The experience of Bostic and the brute force of Floyd at tackle will be missed, as well as Elam’s knack to make the big play.
Needs Met: The best news for Florida is that Will Muschamp signed five wide receivers. Two you need to know about who will contribute early are Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood. The Gators also signed five offensive linemen, but the two biggest impact linemen aren’t even included in the class ranking in transfers in Tyler Moore (Nebraska) and Max Garcia (Maryland). Both started at left tackle at their previous schools, and along with JUCO transfer in Trenton Brown (6-8, 350), there are three SEC-ready offensive line additions. But perhaps the biggest signee on offense is five-star running back Kelvin Taylor. Taylor will make an instant splash, but don’t forget about underrated Adam Lane, too.
Headlining the defense is a stellar linebacking group. Five-star Alex Anzalone headlines the four, but Daniel McMillian will be the star of the four. The most underrated prospect the Gators signed is three-star linebacker Jarrad Davis. Florida was able to sign seven defensive linemen in this class, which is remarkable. JUCO defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jarran Reed will make an impact, along with underrated star Jay-nard Bostwick. However, the Pied Piper of the class is lockdown corner Vernon Hargreaves. His athleticism and ability are out of this world, and he’ll remind you of Eric Berry. He’s that good. In total, Florida signed four defensive backs, and watch out for safety Keanu Neal.
Biggest Get: While Vernon Hargreaves is the most talented of all the signees, the most polished and biggest impact offensive player is Kelvin Taylor. Florida needed receivers and linebackers in the worst way, too, but Taylor will give Florida a star in the backfield who will contend for the starting job next season. His footwork and vision are unmatched against any other back in this class.
Biggest Miss: Muschamp was looking to sign two corners, and Florida put all their eggs in Jalen Ramsey’s basket down the stretch. Unfortunately, the Gators lost him to Florida State in the last couple of weeks, and no backup plan was taken.
Final Evaluation: Florida has now signed two back-to-back top-five classes and looks to be pulling away in the East, as far as talent is concerned. Georgia had an underwhelming finish, as did Tennessee and South Carolina. Muschamp is building a monster from the inside out, stacking both lines of scrimmage with difference makers. Do you think he knows how to win in this league? Florida won 11 games with an eight-win offense in 2012.
Final Grade: A+
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Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports