Pre-Spring Offseason Forecast: Florida

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With the offseason officially underway, SDS will examine what’s next for spring football for all 14 teams. Next up, Florida.

What’s changing

Will Muschamp will have two new coordinators in two seasons. Last year it was offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and this year defensive coordinator and line coach Dan Quinn left Florida for the Seattle Seahawks in January.  Muschamp promoted linebackers coach DJ Durkin to defensive coordinator, who had been groomed the last two seasons. This had been the plan since Muschamp started his staff. Durkin was always set to replace Quinn, knowing he could leave for an NFL coordinator job at any time. The fact that Muschamp hired Quinn in the first place was impressive, because he was such a great coach. So Durkin takes over the defense, and Muschamp hired South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing as the new position coach. Quinn was a great position coach but not a great motivator. Lawing is both, and he’ll make an impact on this position starting this spring. South Carolina led the SEC with 43 sacks and finished sixth in the country in 2012.

Position of concern

No position weighs heavier in the mind of Muschamp than wide receiver. The Gators had no one who could make a catch in traffic or even create any type of separation against coverage, prompting Muschamp to sign five different receivers. The best one is already in enrolled in freshman Demarcus Robinson. The staff must develop returners Andre Debose, Latroy Pittman and Quinton Dunbar this spring, along with Robinson, and four others are joining the team this summer. The surprise star of this group in the spring could be Loucheiz Purifoy, who will concentrate on receiver this spring after starting at corner last year.

Emerging spring player prediction

Defensive end Dante Fowler made a splash as a freshman, but he’ll end up being the talk of the spring. Folwer is a 6-3, 265-pound defensive end who is as athletic as they come. Originally signed as a Buck linebacker and hybrid linebacker, Fowler will likely outgrow the position and transition over to being more of a strict defensive end. Fowler’s dominance will be the talk of the spring, and Brad Lawing will develop him.

Three signees to be excited about

1. Vernon Hargreaves, CB: Some think Vernon Hargreaves is the best player in the 2013 class, and that includes Robert Nkemdiche. Hargreaves will have an instant impact, and he could start the first game. He’s that good. Hargreaves also allows Loucheiz Purifoy to transition over to play some offense next season, too.

2. Alex Anzalone, LB: Florida graduated Jon Bostic and lost Jelani Jenkins, and Anzalone will have a shot to earn an early starting position. He’s a primo athletic linebacker early enrollee who already weighs close to 235 pounds. Anzalone looks like a wide receiver running sideline to sideline, and he’ll get early playing time next season.

3. Demarcus Robinson, WR: Robinson arguably had the best hands of any receiver of the 2013 recruiting cycle. And at 6-2, 200 pounds, Robinson will play right away, and he’s making an impression already as an early enrollee.  Robinson isn’t exactly a burner with tremendous speed, but he can make any catch on the field thrown in a 5′ radius.

Primary position battle

One position battle I’m looking forward to the most is left tackle. Florida’s offensive line struggled throughout last season with Jeff Driskel in pass protection. And there’s no more important position than left tackle. True sophomore DJ Humphries and transfer Tyler Moore will battle for the position this spring. It’s likely that Humphries and Moore will both start at tackle opposite one another.  Originally from Clearwater, Moore became the first-ever true freshman to start for Nebraska on the offensive line in 2011, and he will do wonders for the Gators’ offensive line.

Previous Offseason Forecasts:

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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