Florida Football: Underclassmen Who Must Replace Gators' Top Seniors in 2013
Will Muschamp's team preaches the motto "Man down, Man up," and with the Gators crop of seniors playing its final few games, it won't be long before Florida's head coach must replace stalwarts like Jon Bostic, Josh Evans and Mike Gillislee.
Luckily for Gator Nation, Muschamp has worked tirelessly to build impressive depth during the last two years, snagging elite recruits like D.J. Humphries, Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard.
While there will certainly be a drop-off in experience in 2013, that doesn't necessarily equate to a loss of talent.
With the trio of Humphries, Fowler and Bullard fortifying the lines of scrimmage, the Gators will be set up front.
But what about at linebacker, wide receiver and running back?
Let's take a look at which underclassmen must replace the Gators' top seniors in 2013.
Michael Taylor (Middle Linebacker)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Jon Bostic
Career Stats: 22 games, 63 total tackles (6.0 for loss), 1.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Just a redshirt sophomore, Michael Taylor has already made an impact as a reserve linebacker in Dan Quinn's defense.
Though he lacks prototypical size for an inside linebacker (6'0", 226 pounds), Taylor hits like a Mack truck and has enough speed to be a three-down player.
While he has the athletic ability to be a productive player, the biggest difference between Taylor and current starter Jon Bostic is game experience.
Taylor has played in 22 games, but has started only one. Bostic is the most experienced player on the Gators defense, starting every game since midway through his sophomore season.
Bostic is the unquestioned leader of the front seven, so it will be up to Taylor to assert himself as he replaces another great Gator middle linebacker.
Leon Orr (Nose Tackle)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Omar Hunter
Career Stats: 21 games played, 23 total tackles (5.5 for loss), 2.0 sacks, 1 pass broken up
Blessed with a massive 6'5", 305-pound frame, Leon Orr has all the physical ability in the world to be a very good defensive lineman in the SEC.
After redshirting in 2010, the former 4-star prospect appeared in all 13 games last season but finally showed flashes of greatness this year.
While Omar Hunter hasn't lived up to the enormous expectations placed on him when he came to Florida as a 5-star recruit, the redshirt senior is one of the hardest workers on the team and stepped up his play this season.
If Orr works as hard as his predecessor, he could become a big-time player in 2013.
Dante Fowler Jr. (Buck Linebacker)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Lerentee McCray
Career Stats: 10 games played, 23 total tackles (6.0 for loss), 2.0 sacks
At one time Dante Fowler, Jr. was a 233-pound defensive end headed to FSU.
Boy, how things have changed.
Now listed at a rocked-up 277 pounds, the future All-American Buck linebacker has made his presence known as a freshman.
After being used sparingly at the beginning of the season, Fowler has emerged as one of the most productive players in Florida's fantastic defensive line rotation.
Blessed with incredible speed and size, there's no doubt Fowler has the makings of a future stud, and he will be an upgrade over Lerentee McCray.
Jabari Gorman (Free Safety)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Josh Evans
Career Stats: 22 games played, 9 total tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Jabari Gorman is the first relative unknown to make this list.
The sophomore has spent his first two seasons as a core special teams player and reserve safety, but he hasn't made a name for himself yet.
Then again, when Matt Elam and Josh Evans are your starting safeties, it's tough to earn any playing time.
Gorman checks in at just 5'10", 188 pounds, a noticeable size downgrade from Evans' 6'2", 201-pound frame, but the former 4-star prospect is athletic and has drawn comparisons to former Gator Ahmad Black.
If Gorman even becomes half the player Black was, the Gators will have found a great replacement for the steady Evans.
Latroy Pittman (Wide Receiver)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Frankie Hammond, Jr.
Career Stats: 9 games, 2 catches for 6 yards
No position group has been more disappointing the last two seasons than the Gators' wide receivers.
Whether it's a lack of speed, size or just overall talent, the group hasn't produced anywhere near a championship level.
The team's best wideout, Frankie Hammond, Jr., has only a few games left in his career, meaning Latroy Pittman will be counted on to contribute much more as a sophomore than he has as a freshman.
Thickly built at 5'11", 209 pounds, Pittman brings some decent size to the equation, but he lacks great speed.
Ultimately, it may be current 4-star commit Ahmad Fulwood—who boasts 6'4" frame and 4.47 wheels—who plays himself into a starting spot, but he'll have competition from Pittman.
Matt Jones (Running Back)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Mike Gillislee
Career Stats: 9 games played, 33 attempts for 113 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 2 catches for 9 yards
With uber-talented prospect Kelvin Taylor expected to become a Gator (via rivals.com), current freshman Matt Jones is no lock to replace Mike Gillislee, but he should be the favorite to earn the most carries in 2013.
While Gillislee has better speed to go with his 5'11", 209-pound frame, Jones is a potentially lethal power back at 6'2", 226 pounds.
A former standout at Armwood High (Fla.), Jones came to Florida as ESPN's No. 11 running back in the country.
Although he hasn't received many carries, the bruising back has benefited from playing behind a consummate team player in Gillislee, and with a year of experience under his belt, expect Jones to take a big leap forward in 2013.
Ian Silberman (Left Guard)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: James Wilson
Experience: Made his first start on Oct. 13 against Vanderbilt. Made just four appearances from 2010-2011.
Ian Silberman's journey at UF has been one filled with a lot of hard work without much to show for it, but the redshirt sophomore should finally have the opportunity to earn a starting spot in 2013.
When the Gators signed Silberman, expectations were high for the blue-chip recruit, who was rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com.
Despite his talent, Silberman weighed around 260 pounds when he came to UF, so the Orange Park native had some serious bulking up to do.
About 45 pounds later, the 6'5" giant now has the the body to compete in the rugged SEC, and the versatile lineman has carved out a niche for himself in 2012.
With Wilson vacating the left guard spot in 2013, it will be Silberman's time to shine.
D.J. Humphries (Left Tackle)
Whom He'll Be Replacing: Xavier Nixon
Experience: Has been utilized in jumbo packages as sixth offensive lineman or extra tight end. Started the last two games against Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette.
D.J. Humphries' freshman season bears a scary similarity to the man he's replacing, but that's where the comparisons should end.
While Xavier Nixon flashed All-American potential as a freshman in 2009, the 6'6" North Carolina native failed to play with any level of consistency, although he has rebounded with a decent senior campaign.
Humphries, who also hails from the Tar Heel State, was a consensus 5-star recruit and Rivals.com's No. 2 overall prospect.
Blessed with fantastic athleticism and a lean 6'6" frame with plenty of potential to bulk up, Humphries should develop into an All-American.
As long as the Gators' blindside protector of the future adds some muscle in the offseason, Humphries will quickly make everyone forget about the up-and-down Nixon.