Florida Football: DJ Humphries and 5 Most Important Recruits in 2012
Last year was a tough season for Florida football. Losses to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State cut deep into Gator Nation's pride, while the LSU and Alabama performances were just embarrassing.
Will Muschamp, since arriving in Gainesville, has wanted to run a pro-style offense, but it hasn't been the right fit using Urban Meyer's spread offense personnel. Despite having some of the fastest players in the country, the Gators frequently found it impossible to run the ball.
Now with Muschamp's first full recruiting class coming to Gainesville, the expectations of returning back to SEC prominence are higher than ever. 2011 was unacceptable, and Muschamp's margin of error for 2012 is much smaller.
Let's take a look at the top newest additions to the Gators who will help to better make the transition to the pro-style offense and bring winning back to Gainesville.
DJ Humphries Highlights
There is a big difference between a spread offensive line and a pro-style offensive line. A spread O-line is quicker and better at blocking in space, but tends to be much smaller than the heavyset pro-style O-line.
In 2011, the Gators proved that the two don't mix very well.
Florida struggled mightily in the trenches last year. Against the other physical SEC defenses like Alabama and LSU, running the ball was often not even a viable option.
You can't win a football game like that.
Muschamp made getting bigger, tougher and more physical on both lines a top priority in his new recruits, and that's exactly what he got.
DJ Humphries comes in as one of the top five players in the country. Weighing in at 265 lbs and standing nearly 6'5", Humphries looks to provide an instant boost to the physicality of the offensive line.
Humphries will be the anchor, along with Jessamen Dunker, on the offensive line for many years to come.
Jessamen Dunker at the All-American game via the Orlando Sentinel
If you thought DJ Humphries would add some much needed bulk to the offensive line, then Jessamen Dunker is really going to impress. He comes in at 6'6" and 315 lbs, a good 50 lbs heavier than Humphries.
While not as talented as Humphries, especially blocking downfield, Dunker will provide an instant barrier between the Gators' young quarterback and the relentless pass rush of the SEC.
Dunker and Humphries are two of the biggest recruits, both of whom are early enrollees, and will be the keys on offense to being able to fully convert to the pro-style.
No Chris Rainey, no Jeff Demps, and because of Matt Jones, no problem.
While Demps saw limited action in 2011 as an effort to prevent injury before his Olympic career, Chris Rainey struggled in the switch to the pro-style offense. His speed saved him a couple times, but running the ball through the middle was almost impossible with the 5'9", 174-lb running back.
Jones will change that.
Jones will be one of the first true pro-style running backs in nearly five years for the Gators. He will bring a much more physical style of play than Rainey or Demps, but that's something Muschamp desperately needed last season.
Mike Gillislee and Matt Jones will battle it out during the spring, but I expect Gillislee to get more touches even though he has had problems with pass protection. Meanwhile, expect to see Jones come in during short-yardage situations and when the Gators get near the end zone.
After a year of learning the system and getting comfortable in a collegiate backfield, Jones will return as a key member of the Florida Gator offense in 2013.
Dante Fowler Jr.
Dante Fowler Jr. highlights from his junior season
While Dunker and Humphries provide instant beef to the offensive line, Dante Fowler Jr. comes in as an already well established pass-rusher for the defense.
Florida has been known for its speed of the edge, whether that was Kevin Carter, Jevon Kearse or Carlos Dunlap.
Fowler Jr. will certainly be another name to add to the list.
He comes into Florida a little small at 232 lbs, but he was dominant in high school. After the Gators strength and conditioning coaches get him in the weight room, he could very well be a dominant force in the SEC as well.
Kent Taylor comes into the Florida program as the top-rated tight end in the nation.
If the Gators pair him up with Jordan Reed, it could become one of the most lethal receiving tight end sets in the nation. With AC Leonard dealing with off-the-field issues, coaches are looking for Taylor to make an immediate contribution.
In high school, Taylor was just as much of a receiver as he was a tight end, and he was equally effective in both positions. However, if Taylor is going to fit in the tight end rotation, he is going to have to add some size and strength.
At either position, Taylor will likely be a sure-handed target for whatever quarterback is leading the Gators in 2012.
Jonathan Bullard highlights
Next to Dante Fowler Jr. comes in another 5-star defensive lineman.
The Gators didn't steal this one from Florida State, but it was a huge grab out of the North Carolina market. Jonathan Bullard comes in ranked No. 2 out of the state of Florida and No. 6 nationally.
If Fowler Jr. and Bullard can mature under Muschamp in their first years as the newest additions to an already talented defensive line, this unit may be one of the best in the SEC.
We all know that means the best in the entire country as well.
As a defensive minded coach, Will Muschamp has coached some of the most athletically gifted linemen while at the University of Texas. Gator Nation should have plenty of faith in his ability to establish Fowler Jr. and Bullard among the elite defensive players in the country.