3 summer arrivals who could help Florida most in 2016
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When late June enrollment for the Summer B semester came around, a smaller group of Baby Gators than usual arrived in Gainesville this year.
Of Florida’s 25 incoming freshmen, 12 had already enrolled before signing day. In his second recruiting class, coach Jim McElwain placed a premium on players who could arrive on campus and get to work, as the Gators had many holes to fill on the 2016 roster. Many of the marquee names from the class, including the two quarterbacks, played in the spring game.
So while there are certainly plenty of starting spots to be sorted out, it’s unlikely that many of the summer enrollees will step right into those roles, as they would have to leapfrog not only the returning veterans but also the early enrollees.
With that said, there were certainly some notable summer arrivals, including the two highest-rated signees.
Here are three newcomers to watch for this fall:
WR Tyrie Cleveland : With Cleveland rated the No. 2 player in a position of need for the Gators, it’s safe to say that many Florida fans have been on Cleveland Watch all summer.
— CFB/Gator Edits (@edits_gator) April 17, 2016
Even though two four-star freshmen got a jump on Cleveland this spring, many say that he has too much talent to sit on the bench this fall. Cleveland’s size (6-foot-3, 189 pounds) and athleticism have many fans anticipating an instant impact once he sees the field.
That impact might be delayed, however, as Cleveland’s college career has gotten off on the wrong foot with a felony charge for shooting BB guns along with teammate Rick Wells, a fellow summer enrollee, into a dorm residence earlier this month. Gainesville attorney Huntley Johnson has come to the players’ defense, and that usually means the players will avoid severe punishment.
DE Antonneous Clayton: Judging by 247Sports Composite recruiting scores, Clayton (0.9821) is the top-rated Gators signee of 2016. While the defensive line has to overcome two major departures (DT Jonathan Bullard and DE Alex McCalister), it’s expected to be a team strength in 2016, somewhat minimizing the hype surrounding Clayton.
Even if it’s DE Bryan Cox Jr., DT Caleb Brantley and DL Cece Jefferson anchoring the pass rush, it should not stop Clayton from getting some big sack opportunities a la Jefferson as a freshman in 2015. If the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Clayton can slip past offensive tackles, expect defensive coordinators to find ways to get him into the game.
LB Jeremiah Moon: As the highest-rated signee (four stars) at a thin position (linebacker), Moon figures to be in position for early playing time. The major question marks at linebacker beyond starters Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone are somewhat relieved by scheme (heavy use of nickel coverage), but this is an area Florida will want to get plenty players snaps in case of injuries.