Florida Football: 5 Freshmen Who Will Make a Huge Impact This Fall
Antonio Morrison, Jonathan Bullard, Dante Fowler and D.J. Humphries.
They are only four members of the talented crop of freshmen that helped the Florida Gators return to an elite level last season.
Whether it was a key sack on defense or a big touchdown to put a game out of reach, Florida's young playmakers made a number of valuable contributions.
As fall practice quickly approaches, the Gators' 2013 class looks to be just as talented as the 2012 version. Furthermore, a few freshmen are bound to stand out as potential superstars.
These five certainly fit that category.
The first freshman is someone who has already made a big impact in spring practice. After an impressive Gator debut, Demarcus Robinson looks primed to make a bigger impact.
It's no secret that Florida has lacked offensive weapons in recent years, particularly at wide receiver. If that's going to change, Robinson could lead the renaissance.
A skilled route-runner with good hands, Robinson benefitted from enrolling early and getting to know the offensive system. In the Gators' case, this is huge. Aside from Quinton Dunbar, the team has no experienced receivers that can be counted on to make plays.
Jeff Driskel is at his best when he can find a rhythm with one of his receivers. After spending more time with the junior quarterback in fall camp, Robinson could be in sync with Driskel as early as opening day. This would give the Gators at least two trustworthy receivers, which is already an improvement.
With the spread offense now a thing of the past in Gainesville, the Gators will have to attract elite high school running backs to maintain an effective ground attack. While Matt Jones may be the first back of the Will Muschamp era to keep an eye on, Kelvin Taylor seems to be the center of attention.
Of course, some of that has to do with his father's legacy at Florida. But with Taylor's talent level, the hype is merited. Taylor can be both a speedster and a bruiser.
In high school, he was unstoppable. He ended his career at Glades Day with over 12,000 yards and 191 touchdowns.
No, that's not a typo. He had 191 touchdowns. How can you top that?
Well, he will certainly try his hardest as a Gator. Like Robinson, his early enrollment will be a huge asset. Although he might need a few weeks to fully develop, Taylor should be a one-man highlight reel when he reaches his peak.
Although Taylor will be a stud, the Gators will need to find other weapons to complement him. One of the possible candidates is Adam Lane.
He may be a smaller back, but Lane can pack a potent punch.
Lane has remarkable strength. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he is shifty enough to overcome this. He is the perfect goal-line back who can finish a drive by bulling his way into the end zone. This could allow him to make a significant offensive impact during his first season.
Lane is being somewhat overlooked, and he might prove it during the fall.
Vernon Hargreaves III
Vernon Hargreaves III is thought by many to be the centerpiece of the Gators' 2013 class. He would already be a starting corner on most teams in the country, and there is a good chance he will start for the Gators by the end of the season.
Hargreaves has the skills of a true shut-down corner. He has speed that allows him to run stride-for-stride with receivers. He has tremendous athleticism, which allows him to battle for the football in midair. Plus, his football instincts are exceptional. Even if he is beat off the snap, he seems to know where the football is going and can recover.
The biggest issue for Hargreaves is Florida's depth at corner. Specifically, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, who are exceptional talents. The freshman would really have to impress the Gator staff in order to work his way into the starting lineup.
As talented as he is, Hargreaves would benefit from a gradual introduction to the SEC level. Let him watch his teammates and learn. Throw him out in coverage on a few occasions against weaker opponents and see how he does. This will let the Gator coaches make a judgement call on if he is ready.
Although Hargreaves won't reach star potential in 2013, he should offer a few glimpses of what's to come during fall practice.
The last high-profile Florida recruit with the name Brantley did not exactly pan out the way Gator fans had hoped. But fear not, Caleb Brantley should become a key piece on the Gator defensive line.
Whereas Jonathan Bullard and others excel in getting to the quarterback, Brantley is an excellent run-stopper. He uses his big frame to manhandle opposing linemen and pursue the running back.
Brantley was not named an Under Armour All-American for nothing. Although his technique can be sloppy on occasion, he has the raw speed and burst of a top-flight defender.
Brantley should quickly cycle his way into game action. The numbers won't be there this season, but his performance will be successful as long as he shows improvement.