The Florida Gators will begin fall camp in a little over a week, and while there are a good amount of position battles still up in the air, we have a good idea where the team stands as far as a depth chart is concerned.
Whether certain players have established themselves over their careers or have made a move in spring ball, the overall depth chart isn’t going to change a ton since you last saw it. Of course, things could change in no time due to injuries or players not showing up, but barring those circumstances, this is likely the depth chart you’re going to get heading into fall camp and the regular season.
Let’s take a look.
Starter: Jeff Driskel
While fans don’t have 100 percent confidence in Driskel, nobody is arguing that he’s the starting quarterback for Florida. Driskel fits Kurt Roper’s offense perfectly and is in the best position to succeed since he’s stepped on campus. He still has a lot of work to do if he’s going to be the main reason this offense turns around, but there’s no denying that he has the skill set to get the job done.
An official backup hasn’t been named yet, but Mornhinweg still has the edge until further notice given his experience. One of the true freshmen would really have to play out of his mind to steal the backup spot.
Starter: Kelvin Taylor
Backup: Mack Brown
Taylor is the starting running back and should have his workload doubled as a sophomore. It took a while for Taylor to get comfortable last season, but he started to come on late in the year and finished with 508 yards and four touchdowns on only 111 carries. Taylor has the potential to be one of the top backs in the SEC this season if used properly and given enough touches.
The backup spot is still up for grabs between Brown and Matt Jones, but the edge goes to Brown until Jones can prove he’s healthy. Even then, Florida is likely to use up to four running backs this season, so everybody is going to get playing time.
Starters: Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood, Valdez Showers
Backups: Demarcus Robinson, Latroy Pittman, Andre Debose
Dunbar, Fulwood and Showers are the most consistent returning receivers from last season. Dunbar’s senior leadership and 90 career receptions earns him a starting job as the X-receiver, while Fulwood’s production late last season makes Florida’s coaching staff confident that he can handle lining up at Z-receiver.
The slot will remain an ongoing position battle, but Showers made plays all over the field last season and has more upside to give than the other candidates.
Robinson is the most talented receiver on the entire roster, but he’s got to prove he can be a leader on and off the field. Everybody else is just jockeying for playing time and could get it if they have a solid performance in the fall practices.
Starter: Jake McGee
Backup: Tevin Westbrook
As long as McGee shows up and is anything close to what he was in Virginia, he’ll be given the starting job and will instantly become a top option in this offense. In two seasons with the Cavaliers, McGee racked up 71 receptions for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s an athletic tight end who can stretch out defenses and become that security blanket across the middle of the field.
McGee is a critical piece to Florida’s offensive success, and unless others can do more than what they’ve done in the past, he’ll be on the field nearly every play.
Starters: D.J. Humphries, Tyler Moore, Max Garcia, Trenton Brown, Chaz Green
Backups: Kavaris Harkless, Roderick Johnson, Trip Thurman, Drew Sarvary, David Sharpe
The starting offensive line shouldn’t be that surprising to anyone. Humphries is one of the better tackles in the SEC when healthy, and Moore played well last season when he wasn’t injured. Green is also one of the best offensive linemen Florida has when he’s healthy. I guess the moral of the story is that this is a pretty respectable unit when everybody isn’t nursing injuries on the sidelines.
Garcia also looked solid at center throughout spring drills and the spring game, and he will only improve with the more reps he gets at his new position.
The backup offensive line is where the concerns come in, as there isn’t a lot of experience. The backups should see a lot of playing time early in the season to prepare them when needed down the road.
Starters: Dante Fowler, Leon Orr, Darious Cummings, Jonathan Bullard
Backups: Alex McCalister, Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley, Bryan Cox Jr.
Basically the same defensive line for Florida last season will hold down the fort again this season. Fowler lines up at the Buck position, while Orr, Cummings and Bullard fill up the nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end spots, respectively. On paper, this is one of the better defensive lines in the country, especially if Bullard can have that breakout season Florida fans have been waiting a couple of seasons to see.
Cox and Bostwick should have productive seasons as well if spring ball is any indication of things to come.
Overall, defensive line may be Florida’s most talented and deepest unit on the team.
Starters: Jarrad Davis, Michael Taylor, Neiron Ball
Backups: Daniel McMillian, Antonio Morrison, Matt Rolin
Ball has pretty much guaranteed himself a starting job due to his experience and production over the course of his career and spring. Davis is just way too talented to leave off the field, as everybody saw toward the end of last year. Besides those two guys and maybe Taylor, who has been the quarterback of the defense, everybody else is interchangeable.
There are going to be position battles at linebacker and certain guys are going to emerge, but there hasn’t been much of a difference between any of the players to make any drastic changes. Everybody is going to see the field this season and will have their chances to make plays.
Linebacker is a position that’s talented, but it has yet to reach its full potential.
Starters: Vernon Hargreaves III, Jabari Gorman, Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor
Backups: J.C. Jackson, Keanu Neal, Marcell Harris, Duke Dawson
Who wins the starting job?
Hargreaves is the best player on the team, so there’s no way he’s losing his starting corner spot to anybody. Gorman’s experience and production in a limited role last season earns him the nod at free safety. And while I’ve been a bit of a Maye apologist the last year or so, he has to get the start over Harris heading into fall camp.
The battle everybody is waiting to see will be between Tabor and Dawson for the final cornerback spot. It’s going to be neck-and-neck throughout, but I give the edge to Tabor due to his overall length and the fact he’s better suited to cover some of the bigger receivers in the SEC.
Florida’s starting secondary is looking scary right about now.
Starters: Austin Hardin, Kyle Christy
Backups: Francisco Velez, Johnny Townsend
Hardin is the only Florida kicker on scholarship, and while he made only four of 12 field-goal attempts last season, he was flawless in the spring game. Kicking is all about confidence, and considering Hardin has the leg, if he can just figure out the mental part of his game, he’ll be just fine.
Christy’s production fell off a cliff last season, averaging less than 40 yards per punt. However, Christy has shown in the past that he’s capable of being one of the top punters in the country, as he averaged more than 45 yards per boot as a freshman. Like Hardin, Christy should have things figured out by the time the season begins.