Florida Football: 5 Players to Watch in Gators' Spring Game
We are just a few days away from the Florida Gators spring game and finally being able to see firsthand what these coaches have been talking about for the last couple of weeks.
If you’re no stranger to spring ball, you’ll know that coaches tend to brag about a lot of their players throughout camp, but it’s sometimes a different story when they take the field in live action.
That’s why the spring game is so important. It gives everybody a chance to display what they’ve been working on in a game-like atmosphere.
Let’s see what the freshman cornerback is truly capable of, how the quarterback looks and if a particular defensive lineman is really ready for an expanded role.
Here are some of the Florida Gators you should really be watching during this year’s spring game.
Adam Lane, RB
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know there are few players I’m more excited about than running back Adam Lane. While he’s not going to get as many carries as Kelvin Taylor and may simply be used in short-yardage situations, there is a place for him on this team.
Lane brings toughness and physicality to the offensive side of the ball. He has the potential to be the type of running back used late in games to wear defenses down and seal the victory. At 5’7” and 222 pounds, he is easily the strongest guy on the football team, and nobody is going to want to tackle him between five and 10 times a game.
The redshirt running back should quickly become a fan favorite. Don’t be surprised if he makes your jaw drop a few times. Lane is simply an athletic freak with tremendous upside.
Jalen Tabor, CB
We’ve seen all the recruiting hype, watched his highlight tapes and heard how polished he looks in spring practice. Now it’s time for Jalen Tabor to show it and prove it.
All the potential and all the stars next to his name won't mean anything if he can’t live up to it. Florida fans expect a lot from Tabor, especially considering he’s the favorite to land a starting cornerback job as a true freshman. It also doesn’t help that Vernon Hargreaves III stepped on the field last year as a first-year player and played at an elite level.
While the expectations may be through the roof, Tabor has the ability to be a shutdown corner on the opposite side of Hargreaves. Seeing him in action for the first time will be a treat. It’s also going to give you a glimpse of what Florida’s secondary has the potential to be this season.
Alvin Bailey, WR
I could have put Demarcus Robinson in this spot, but that should be a given—make sure to keep an eye on Florida’s most talented receiver, but also make note to check out Alvin Bailey.
Bailey has the potential to land the starting position in the slot. He isn’t a big receiver at 5’11”, 185 pounds, but he’s extremely quick in the open field and knows what to do with the ball when it’s in his hands. Explosive players such as Bailey thrive in Kurt Roper’s offensive system, and with the lack of elite playmakers on the current roster, Bailey will have plenty of opportunities to prove his worth.
It’s been a while since Florida fans have seen a big offensive play. After all, the Gators had just 23 passing plays of 20 or more yards last season. Bailey will have a chance to change those numbers, and it starts in the spring game.
Bryan Cox Jr., DE
Bryan Cox Jr. is entering his third season with the Gators, which means it’s time for him to start fulfilling expectations.
As the son of a three-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion, those expectations are higher than with most.
Cox is a versatile defender who gets off the line quickly and does a good job of setting the edge. He plays with a high motor and does a nice job of using his hands.
Here’s what Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports wrote about Cox recently:
Cox hasn't had a huge impact on the stat sheet necessarily. He's had a handful of sacks and quarterback pressures, but hasn't been an unblockable force by any means. But he has been one of the most consistent defensive linemen all spring and has set the edge and held the point of attack extremely well. He has essentially cemented his spot as a starter on the defensive line.
Considering Cox has played in just eight games in two seasons and is now being considered for a starting job, it’s fair to say you should keep an eye on this up-and-coming defensive lineman. He’s ready to take that next step.
Jeff Driskel, QB
This entire spring has been about quarterback Jeff Driskel—how he’s feeling after suffering a season-ending injury last year, how he’s adapting to a new offense and if he’s really the right quarterback for the job.
You’ve heard every update regarding Driskel except for the minor details, like what he’s had for breakfast.
Kurt Roper has been hyping Driskel up all offseason, per Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun, and is acting like he's hit the jackpot.
The potential is there and Roper does have a history of getting the most out of his players. However, if you bleed blue and orange, you have every reason to be hesitant when it comes to the quarterback position.
That’s why you should watch Driskel for yourself during the spring game and come up with your own conclusions. Hopefully, for the sake of the Gators, Driskel has improved and is ready to lead this offense in 2014.