Florida Football: 5 Unsung Heroes in Gators' Fast Start to Season
Jeff Driskel and Mike Gillislee have dominated the headlines for their hot starts, but there is a solid group of under-the-radar players who have keyed Florida's 4-0 start.
Among the bigger names (and bigger bodies) is defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
The former top high school recruit doesn't post huge statistics, but his explosive first step allows him to create penetration in the backfield, setting up teammates to make plays.
One of those ferocious tacklers is third-year linebacker Michael Taylor.
With Jelani Jenkins sidelined, Taylor has seen an increase in playing time and has responded with some highlight-reel plays.
Offensively, the Gators have gotten solid contributions up front and from an unheralded receiver.
Let's take a look at the five unsung heroes who've sparked the Gators' fast start.
Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle
Sharrif Floyd is one big, bad man.
Checking in at 6'3", 303 pounds, the true junior is an animal along the interior of Florida's defensive line. While he doesn't post big sack numbers, Floyd still causes havoc in the backfield.
With 16 tackles, the former 5-star recruit ranks second among Florida's defensive linemen in bringing down ball carriers. What's more impressive are his 3.5 tackles for loss—a solid mark for any interior lineman.
If Floyd and Omar Hunter continue to put pressure on opposing centers and guards, UF's defense should continue to be among the SEC's best.
Michael Taylor, Linebacker
Based on size alone, no one would confuse Michael Taylor for Brandon Spikes. But when you watch No. 51 flying around the field, it's hard not to reminisce about the former All-American.
Taylor—who measures just 6'0", 226 pounds—makes up for his lack of size with speed and instincts. Through four games, the redshirt sophomore has emerged as an invaluable member of the linebacking corps.
Besides his 14 tackles—which ranks third among UF's linebackers—Taylor has shown a knack for making clutch plays, recording one tackle for loss, a sack and a pick.
With UF's depth tested, Taylor has done an admirable job coming off the bench as a sub-package 'backer.
Frankie Hammond Jr., Wide Receiver
The Gators are desperate for a go-to receiver, and Frankie Hammond Jr. is doing his best to prove he's their guy.
Although he's recorded just nine catches, Hammond leads the team with an eye-popping 205 receiving yards (22.8 yard average) and two touchdowns.
Hammond doesn't boast a tremendous size-speed package, but he does display good quickness and hands. With Andre Debose failing to make an impact on offense, Hammond has been a godsend for the Gators.
His big-play ability has played a pivotal role in Jeff Driskel's quick development this season.
Marcus Roberson, Cornerback
Last year, Marcus Roberson was the definition of an instant-impact player.
From the looks of it, the second-year corner has only improved.
The 6'0", 184-pounder is quickly emerging as one of the most valuable players on defense and a potential shutdown corner. Although he's chipped in just eight tackles, Roberson leads the team with six passes defended.
The former 4-star recruit also recorded an interception in the team's opener against Bowling Green, returning it 31 yards.
With Roberson locking down one side of the field, UF's defense is shaping up to be one tough unit.
Jonotthan Harrison, Center
Jonotthan Harrison came to Florida as an offensive guard, but has quickly developed into one of the nation's better centers.
Measuring in at 6'4" and a shade under 300 pounds, Harrison boasts NFL size and movement skills. Although he still needs to add strength, the second-year starter anchors a much improved offensive line.
Although the group's performance against Texas A&M was abysmal, Harrison and his teammates have turned it around against Tennessee and Kentucky. UF's starting center makes all the calls at the line and has done a great job of facilitating the Gators' strong running game.
If the redshirt junior opts to declare for the draft, it would be a big loss for the Gators.
For now, he continues to be an unsung hero on Florida's undefeated squad.
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