Florida Football: 6 Players We Are Most Excited to Watch in 2013
Yes, college football fans are glued to their television sets on Saturdays throughout the fall in order to root for their favorite team.
However, they also watch because, well, college football is an exciting sport. There are cheerleaders, fight songs, cool mascots... the total package.
But the most exciting aspects of college football are the actual athletes. They can make breathtaking catches and lay bone-rattling hits. They are what drive each game.
Florida Gator fans have had plenty of exciting players to dazzle them over the last two decades. They include two Heisman Trophy winners and a plethora of talented skill players.
Luckily, the 2013 season does not look like it will disappoint in this regard.
Here are the six Gators who should provide plenty of excitement this season.
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Although some might say they are more anxious than excited to see Jeff Driskel in 2013, he is certainly bound to be one of the most scrutinized players on the Gator roster.
His 2012 campaign was good, not great. His game was littered with inconsistency, but he somehow managed to guide the Gators to 10 of their 11 wins. It seemed like all of his big plays came at the most opportune times.
He proved last season that he has tremendous athletic ability, especially against Vanderbilt. However, he still needs to improve his accuracy and mindset in the pocket. Only then can he be considered an elite quarterback.
It will be interesting to see if he can deliver the goods for the Gators.
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Mike Gillislee emerged as the Gators' best offensive weapon last season. By the end of the season, however, he took a step back due to the large amount of hits he took.
That allowed Matt Jones to give us a small glimpse of his star potential.
Jones scored a backbreaking touchdown against Florida State and followed that up with another score in the Sugar Bowl. Although he ended the campaign with only 275 yards, he showed that he has big play capabilities. Furthermore, his tough running style should fit right in with the Gators' offensive plans.
He may not place himself among the supreme tier of college running backs this season, but Jones is a perfect candidate for a breakout season. He should be fun to watch in the Florida backfield.
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Although Quinton Dunbar is the immediate number one receiver for the Gators, I am more excited to see his freshman teammate, Demarcus Robinson.
As an early enrollee, Robinson made plenty of plays in spring camp and gave Gator Nation reason for optimism. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, he has good size for a receiver, and he is a very good route runner, something that the Gators have lacked in recent years.
Of course, the Gators have lacked anything close to a dependable receiver in recent years as well. With the addition of Robinson and other talented freshmen, this could finally be changing.
He does not need to run roughshod over opponents in 2013, but Robinson is skilled enough to make significant contributions. We could be seeing the beginning of something great.
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Loucheiz Purifoy is exactly what one would look for in an exciting player. He's fast, scrappy and not afraid to battle for the football.
Although he had no interceptions to his credit last season, Purifoy was usually in the middle of the action. He blocked kicks, forced fumbles and locked down opposing receivers. He was also one of the few players that Will Muschamp could count on to spark the team due to his emotional style of play.
If he could pick off a couple of passes, Purifoy would make himself one of the most complete defenders in football. He will be asked to anchor Florida's defense in 2013, and his performance could determine whether or not the Gators are a team to fear.
For all these reasons, Purifoy is definitely one to look for on the field.
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Assuming his recent arrest does not remove him from the field for an extended period of time, Antonio Morrison is supposed to be one of the rising stars on the Florida defense this season. He was terrific in his fill-in role for Jelani Jenkins in 2012, and his upside is off the charts.
However, his recent trouble leaves cause for concern. Even if nothing major comes of his alleged nightclub dust-up, the conflict shows a lack of discipline that could lead to more problems down the road.
Still, Morrison is a hard hitter and he plays with reckless abandon. His hit on EJ Manuel last year was a thing of beauty, and fans have every reason to be excited for more of those in 2013.
I'm hoping he proves me wrong in terms of staying out of future trouble, because he is certainly an exciting young athlete.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Gators should have one of their best defensive line units in years when they take the field against Toledo to kick off the season. One of the members of that line who is expected to be a key contributor is Jonathan Bullard.
In his first season, Bullard had five tackles for loss and was named to the SEC Coaches' All-Freshman team. Along with Morrison, he was one of the most promising young athletes on the Florida roster. He consistently applied pressure on opposing quarterbacks and successfully pursued runners.
Again, he was only a freshman. If he can improve during each season, Bullard has a ceiling that few can reach.
He is very athletic and should be a valued part of a great group of linemen. I think we will be hearing his name a lot in the coming months.