Florida’s Purifoy gearing up for Champ Bailey-type season

Loucheiz Purifoy enters 2013 as a versatile junior who’s garnering a lot of hype thrown his direction. While he may not even be the best corner or wide receiver on the team, he’s arguably the most important player — aside from Jeff Driskel — the Gators have heading into the season.

Purifoy is Florida’s Honey Badger. While he looked average at best to start 2012, he blew up during the season. Purifoy dominated special teams as a gunner, and his game got much better in the secondary throughout the season. And needing a spark, Florida would work him in from time to time on offense and on kick returns. He’s Florida’s do-it-all and then some.

Newly promoted defensive coordinator DJ Durkin spoke yesterday to the media, explaining that Purifoy may play as many as 100 snaps per game on offense, defense and special teams, via Orlando Sentinel.

“He can run and go all day,” Durkin said of Purifoy. “Last year, he was playing defense every snap and you see us punting the ball or kicking off and he’s the first one running down the field. He did a great job with it. Obviously, he can do it, we feel he can do it and we’ll just continue working that way.”

The last player to garner 100 snaps per game and excel at it was Georgia’s Champ Bailey. In ‘98, Bailey played 100 snaps in seven different games and produced 744 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while still being the top defensive player in the country. Can Purifoy do that? He may be that caliber of an athlete, but he’s not as strong defensively.

The X-factor in all of this isn’t Purifoy, though. It may be freshman corner Vernon Hargreaves. If Hargreaves is as good as advertised, it will allow Purifoy to play more on offense, assuming Quinton Dunbar, Demarcus Robinson or Ahmad Fullwood don’t provide the spark the offense needs. However, if Hargreaves is a liability, Will Muschamp will have to play Purifoy more on defense, limiting his reps on offense – no matter how good of a conditioned athlete he may be.

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The good news is Florida has the secondary players to make Purifoy playing offense possible. A Champ Bailey-type season may be shooting too high, especially knowing the talent Bailey was, but it’ll be fun watching an athlete the caliber of Purifoy try.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports