2012 Florida Gators: Which Incoming Freshmen May Make Immediate Impact?
The Gator Nation wants to forget the 2011 season as quickly as possible.
The defense played respectably down the stretch, but the offense was downright disgraceful. Clearly, the change from a spread to pro-style offense was going to take some time especially when the skill players were more track stars than prototypical pro-style football players.
Both the offense and defense lost players to graduation and/or the NFL, so holes were there to be filled. Coach Will Muschamp wants to build a physical and tough team, and it all starts with recruiting.
Which incoming freshman may be asked to make immediate contributions to the team?
Let's take a look at the 4- and 5-star high school players who will be available to Muschamp to utilize this coming August.
5-Star Prospect: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Shelby, NC (Crest High School)
Jonathan Bullard was a superstar in Shelby, NC, and his strengths will surely garner him playing time sooner rather than later.
The 6'4", 255-lb DE is known for a motor that never runs out of gas. According to Yahoo's Rivals.com, Bullard reminds them of N.Y. Giants Osi Umenyiora.
That's not a bad thing, Gator Nation.
This strong-side DE will surely find playing time in 2012 and may even become a full-time starter.
5-Star Prospect: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, St. Petersburg, FL (Lakewood High)
As you can see in the above video, DE Dante Fowler Jr. was verbally committed to in-state rival Florida State University, but on national signing day, he changed his mind and signed with the Florida Gators.
Whereas Jonathan Bullard is a strong-side DE, Fowler is a weak-side DE and reminds Rivals.com of Dwight Freeney.
If he were to blossom into that kind of talent, then the Gators would have a stud for the next few years.
Fowler Jr. can definitely find time on the field if given the opportunity.
4-Star Prospect: Jessamen Dunker, OL, Boynton Beach, FL (Boynton Beach High)
Signing with Florida in March 2011, Jessamen Dunker is ready to play at the next level right now according to ESPN.com.
He has the foot quickness and strength coming out of Boynton Beach High School to start blocking for either Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel.
His skill also creates great rush lanes for RBs; therefore, with some polish and coaching, Dunker could see playing time immediately in 2012.
4-Star Prospect: Latroy Pittman, WR, Citra, FL (North Marion High)
By far my personal favorite of the 2012 freshman class, WR Latroy Pittman is going to make a name for himself in Gainesville.
The Gator Nation got an eyeful during the spring Orange and Blue game. Pittman, by far, was the most impressive WR on the field that day and is known amongst his teammates for making plays.
In high school, he played both WR and DB, so he's tough and strong, too. However, he does not have blazing speed, but it doesn't stop him from getting behind the defenses.
Gator Nation, you will not be disappointed with Latroy Pittman. He will find playing time early and often his freshman year and may be the spark plug that's needed in the Gator passing game.
4-Star Prospect: Marcus Maye, S, Melbourne, FL (Holy Trinity Episcopal)
Marcus Maye could be the next hitman in the Gator secondary, and it's needed in the aggressive SEC.
Maye was an outstanding two-sport athlete in high school, and he will make a name for himself in the Gator Nation.
There's an outside chance that Maye could continue to fill out and become a linebacker later in his career according to ESPN.com.
Regardless, Marcus Maye will be a name the Florida Gators faithful will come to know real soon.
If you enjoy articles written by James Walker, then head over to Facebook and "Like" his Page: http://www.facebook.com/BRJamesWalker