Florida Football: 5 Players Sure to Surprise at Fall Camp
Last season, some of Florida’s biggest camp surprises included linebacker Daniel McMillian, running back Matt Jones and tight end Clay Burton. When the Gators take the field in a week to prepare for the upcoming season, there are sure to be other under-the-radar names who make a splash.
It’s one of the main things that makes fall camp so important to the team’s success, as it’s often the guys you least expected who make the difference in a championship run. If the Gators are going to turn things around from a year ago, the players who aren’t getting much attention have to step things up over the next few weeks.
Here are some Florida players who are sure to surprise us all this fall.
Andre Debose, Wide Receiver
It’s been a while since Andre Debose has had a chance to make an impact for Florida. A torn ACL sidelined him all of last season and this spring, but he’s now cleared to play, according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com.
“[Team doctors] didn’t think there was any way he’d participate in non-contact in spring practice, and right now he’s been cleared for everything in the summer," head coach Will Muschamp said. "Here’s a guy who’s really worked his tail off to put himself back into position to do some things.”
Anything productive from Debose should be surprising to Florida fans. Not only has he had a disappointing career, but it’s been forever since anybody has even seen him on the football field. Not to mention he’s coming off the worst injury a football player can suffer.
I expect Debose to have the best season in a Florida uniform, and that’s all going to start in fall camp.
Jonathan Bullard, Defensive End
Most of the country is already well aware of defensive end Jonathan Bullard. He’s now entering his third season and has been a decent player along Florida’s front line.
However, Bullard is just scratching the surface of his potential and has been a bit of a disappointment considering the amount of hype he had coming out of high school. Bullard has struggled to play within himself at times, and the results on the field aren’t what they should be given his skill set.
Bullard has the potential to be an all-conference player and get his name on NFL draft boards. He’s versatile, gets off the ball well and simply can overpower SEC offensive linemen.
The problem is we haven’t seen much of that in the first two seasons.
Many expect this to be Bullard’s breakout season. Well, if that’s the case, it starts in the offseason. Expect to see a different Bullard.
C.J. Worton, Wide Receiver
Florida fans will finally get a chance to see wide receiver C.J. Worton, who is one of my favorite players in the Gators' 2014 recruiting class. With the desperate need for playmaking wide receivers, Worton will be given every chance under the sun to earn some playing time this season.
He isn’t the fastest or the most athletic receiver you’ve ever seen, but Worton does a good job of catching the football, runs solid routes and can be deceptively elusive. Worton is just an all-around solid receiver who does a lot of the little things right. That’s pretty much what the Gators need to help turn around their offensive woes.
Florida fans should have a sigh of relief after watching Worton over the next month. He’ll blow you away with his consistency.
Nick Washington, Safety
There are two safety positions open, and while Nick Washington would have to look like the next Sean Taylor to get one of those starting jobs, he does have a chance to earn considerable backup duty with a solid performance.
Washington was redshirted last season after suffering a shoulder injury two weeks into his season. He was cleared for full contact in spring ball and was one of the biggest surprises on the field, despite making a position change from cornerback to safety. He isn’t the most athletic player in the world, but he’s a solid tackler, has great instincts and is one of the hardest hitters Florida has on its roster.
If spring ball was any indication of what’s to come in the fall, don’t be surprised if Washington solidifies himself on the two-deep depth chart heading into the season.
Will Grier, Quarterback
Will Grier was always a player to watch and had the potential to surprise given the fact he’s one of the more talented quarterbacks the Gators have landed in recent memory. And while I didn’t expect for him to see significant playing time this season, if at all, there’s a chance he could be the backup quarterback.
We need to develop a backup behind him. I don't know who that would be right now. But I would plan on playing that person early in the season, talking about the first game, just like we did with Jeff his freshman year when John Brantley was our quarterback because of the lack of experience behind Jeff. We need to develop that guy and be ready for a situation where we might have to play him.
Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required) reported last month that Grier now weighs more than 200 pounds, which means he packed on 20-plus pounds since he arrived on campus. That’s playing shape. Grier has also shown he has the skill set to compete at the highest level.
It’s going to be very interesting to see if the freshman can make that jump and earn the backup role, and don't be surprised if he does.