It wasn't exactly unexpected news, but Florida head coach Will Muschamp received some good news on Wednesday night when according to the Associated Press, the NCAA officially granted wide receiver Andre Debose a sixth year of eligibility.
The 5'11", 189-pound Sanford, Fla. native missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in fall camp. Muschamp announced that he will be cleared for non-contact practice on March 28.
He was dubbed "the next Percy Harvin" by former head coach Urban Meyer according to the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post when he signed with the Gators in 2009, but hasn't lived up to that seemingly insurmountable hype.
He has just 543 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns in three seasons of play during his Gator career. His biggest impact has been on special teams, where he holds the Florida record and is tied for the all-time SEC record with four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
|Andre Debose Career Receiving Stats|
But his Gator career has been riddled with offensive problems that were largely out of his control.
Pro-style quarterback John Brantley running Meyer's offense in 2010 was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, the combination of Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator and quarterback uncertainty hampered the Gators' offense in 2011 and when Brent Pease took over the offense in 2012, it remained mediocre.
Things are different now.
Muschamp brought in former Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to spice up the offense, and part of his reputation is getting the ball out in the hands of playmakers in space. Debose has the potential to be one of those playmakers, but hasn't been able to live up to that potential thanks to injuries and offenses that didn't fit his game.
Now he does.
Roper's offenses produced receivers with 900 or more receiving yards six times since 2008, whereas Florida only had one player—Riley Cooper in 2009—eclipse the 900-yard mark. Of those Blue Devils that went north of 900 yards, Jamison Crowder and Donovan Varner both possess the stature and skills similar to what Debose brings to the table when he's healthy.
Simply put, Debose gives Roper a solid option in the slot who can be dangerous in space—which is gold for an offensive coordinator who thrives with options.
His biggest impact will still be on special teams, where it's likely that Debose will slide right back into his role as kickoff returner with little-to-no issues.
But Roper's presence in Gainesville gives Debose his best opportunity to live up to—or even come close to—living up to that "next Percy Harvin" tag.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.
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