Heading into the 2009 season, there is a good chance that the 2009 Gators will open as the preseason No. 1. The debate will begin with the worthiness of this team to open this high and how Texas, USC, and Oklahoma should be ranked in the useless preseason top spot. If you really consider the situation carefully, this team is going to be improved in just about every way over the 2008 team.
The defense is going to be two deep at every position, Tim Tebow is back, and the running game is more secure than in the past. However, the one spot that is going to have to improve is the Gators' wide receiver position.
Right now the roster looks like this.
2009 WRs: David Nelson, Carl Moore, Brandon James, Justin Williams, T.J. Lawrence, Frankie Hammond, Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Paul Wilson, Omarius Hines
2009 WR Recruits: Andre Debose
Just looking at this list on paper, you see a lot of four- and five-star recruits with tons of raw talent, but when you start to look at results from actual game situations, this group lacks an impressive résumé. A bunch of these guys had key catches in the 2008 campaign, but it would be a stretch to say any of them had a great game.
The top returning pass catcher from last year is not even a WR. Aaron Hernandez hauled in 34 receptions last year with five TDs. From there the stats drop to 18 receptions from Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson. David Nelson has shown signs he could be the replacement for Louis Murphy, but I would put Murphy further along coming into his senior season.
I'm pretty sure no one in Gator Nation thinks any of these guys are going to be a replacement for Percy Harvin. His unreal first step and home run threat each time he touched the ball are going to be missed a lot more as the 2009 season continues.
So is it all gloom and doom for the Gators next year? No! I just see Billy Gonzales having to push this group a lot harder than last year to get them ready for life in the SEC.
So who's ready to step up for 2009?