Gator fans know how it feels to be on top. They also know how long the fall from the top can be.
After losing 11 games in two seasons, the Gators rebounded in 2012, surprising most of us with their 11-1 record. After a two-year absence, the Gators return to a BCS bowl game and have a chance to end their season with 12 wins.
But can they carry that momentum into 2013?
With some key players on both sides of the ball set to graduate this year and four juniors with NFL aspirations and tough decisions ahead of them, how will Florida reload rather than re-build?
Let's take a look at the five positions where the Gators have huge holes to fill and how they can fill them next season.
Losing: Caleb Sturgis
Potential Replacements: Austin Hardin, Brad Phillips
Caleb Sturgis was named a Lou Groza Award finalist in back-to-back seasons and has been one of the Gators' most reliable players the past three seasons. Sturgis has converted 87.7 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career and is leaving big shoes to fill next season.
Austin Hardin was the No. 1 rated kicker in the class of 2012 and received a redshirt this season. Hardin and Brad Phillips will compete this offseason for the starting kicking job, but the former Under Armour All-American, Hardin, should be able to win the job in the offseason.
Losing: Omar Hunter
Potential Replacement: Leon Orr
Omar Hunter was a big part of the Gators defense this season. Hunter played the nose tackle in Florida's multiple-set defense and was a crucial defender against the run. Having a big, run-clogging, nose tackle allows the Gators to be more versatile with their blitz schemes and opens up lanes for the linebackers to make plays.
Leon Orr was having a productive season before he developed a kidney infection that cost him a month during the season. Orr lost a significant amount of weight while he was sick and will need to work this offseason on getting back over 300 pounds.
Losing: Josh Evans, Matt Elam*
Potential Replacements: Jabari Gorman, Valdez Showers, Marcus Maye, Marcell Harris, Rhaheim Ledbetter, Nick Washington, Keanu Neal
Josh Evans is having the best year of his career in his senior season, and Matt Elam had the breakout year most people expected he would. Evans is a senior and will be out of eligibility after the Sugar Bowl.
Elam has a tough decision ahead of him. Coming off of his best season as a Gator, he is a potential first or second-round pick if he declares for the NFL draft.
Luckily for the Gators, they have an embarrassment of riches in the secondary. As you can see from the potential replacements at safety, there are a ton of young players just waiting for a chance to earn the starting job. Gorman and Showers have played in limited roles this season, but have the most experience of the group. Marcus Maye earned a redshirt this season after injuring his meniscus.
Harris, Neal and Washington will all be freshmen in 2013, but are determined to earn playing time as freshmen.
Losing: Frankie Hammond, Jr.
Potential Replacements: Quinton Dunbar, Latroy Pittman, Raphael Andrades, Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey, Demarcus Robinson, Marqui Hawkins
The Gators are only losing one receiver this year, but the receivers underperformed again this year, and there will be an open competition for playing time this offseason.
Quinton Dunbar led all receivers this season with 30 catches for 306 yards and four scores. Despite posting the best numbers of his career, Gator fans expected a more explosive offense this season under Brent Pease.
Wide receiver is the most wide-open position on the team. Any and all of the players listed on this slide will have an opportunity to earn starting time this season if they can impress the coaching staff in the offseason.
Demarcus Robinson flipped his commitment from Clemson to the Gators this week and is the highest-rated receiver the Gators have had commit since Andre Debose. Robinson is the most college ready of the five receivers that Florida has committed to the class of 2013, but Pittman and Andrades will also compete for more playing time in their sophomore seasons.
Losing: Mike Gillislee
Potential Replacements: Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane
Mike Gillislee became the first Gator running back since 2004 to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Those are the shoes that must be filled for the run-first Gators next season.
It took Jones a while to secure the backup running back spot, but after passing Brown on the depth chart, he was as impressive as any freshman this season. In the last two games of the season, Jones carried the ball 16 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. His no-nonsense running style suits the vision that Will Muschamp has for his offense.
Kelvin Taylor comes to Florida with an incredible pedigree. Kelvin is the son of Gator great Fred Taylor and even plans on wearing his dad's No. 21 at Florida. Taylor will enroll in January and get a head start in the weight room and an early look at the playbook. Expect Taylor to push Jones this offseason, but Jones to begin the season as the starting running back.