Florida Gators Football: Five Players Who Will Shine Against Miami (OH)
When the Florida Gators take the field against the Miami RedHawks to kick off the 2010 season Saturday, they will be missing a lot of playmakers.
No longer will the likes of Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden, and Aaron Hernandez be around to dominate the opposition, but that doesn't mean that Gators are devoid of more potential stars.
At a school like Florida with a coach like Urban Meyer, top-notch football players seemingly grow on trees.
Look for these five guys to help the Gators start off the 2010 season with a bang.
Duke Lemmens, Defensive End
Senior defensive end and newly-elected team captain Duke Lemmens will be making his second career start Saturday as he and fellow senior defensive end and team captain Justin Trattou try to fill the void left by Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham.
Despite winning the starting job over freshman phenoms Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley, Lemmens still enters this season with a chip on his shoulder.
His career numbers of 23 tackles (14 solo), 2.0 sacks, and one forced fumble probably don't excite the Florida faithful, so Lemmens definitely has something to prove.
Watch for a lot of intensity and aggression from Lemmens Saturday as he formally introduces himself to the Gator Nation as a legitimate SEC defensive end.
Jeff Demps, Running Back/Kick Returner
With the departure of Tim Tebow to the NFL, Jeff Demps (99 carries, 745 yards) enters the season as the Gators' most experienced and most dynamic ball carrier.
As if becoming Florida's first option in the running game wasn't challenging enough, Demps will also try to make an impact as the team's primary kickoff returner following the departure of Brandon James.
With an even bigger role in the offense this season, watch Demps shine in the season opener and run all over a RedHawk defense that may still be recovering from surrendering 186.92 rushing yards per game last season (No. 101 in the nation).
John Brantley, Quarterback
The eyes of the college football world will be on John Brantley as he makes his first career start in place of former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
While he won't bowl over linebackers like his predecessor, Brantley should have plenty of success in Urban Meyer's spread offense, especially with playmakers like Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, and Deonte Thompson at his disposal.
John Brantley will torch a better-than-advertised Miami secondary before giving way to backup quarterbacks Tyler Murphy and Trey Burton midway through the third quarter.
While the Gator Nation will never forget Tebow, they will fall in love all over again on a hot Saturday afternoon in "The Swamp."
Deonte Thompson, Wide Receiver
While openers are mainly tune-up games for the majority of college football, they sometimes can make or break your season.
Just ask Deonte Thompson, who dropped a wide open deep ball from Tim Tebow against Charleston Southern last season on the way to a disappointing 2009 campaign.
Granted, Thompson's numbers were still respectable, but overcoming that first impression proved to be a difficult task.
Now, faced with the responsibility of being the go-to receiver for John Brantley this season, Thompson will be sure to rack up as many catches, yards, and touchdowns as he can for the Gators offense in 2010.
Thompson will be sure to kick off his season with a bang Saturday in order to prove to his teammates, coaches, and the college football world that he is one of top receivers in the SEC.
Will Hill, Safety
Even with the departure of the hard-hitting Major Wright, safety will still be a very strong position for the 2010 Florida Gators.
Along side senior team captain Ahmad Black, Florida will start the über-talented junior Will Hill in the Gators secondary.
Hill, who has recorded 78 tackles (50 solo), two interceptions, and one sack while playing rotating with Black and Wright for the past two seasons, should see his numbers get even better with increased playing time.
The scariest thing for opposing defenses is that Hill, possibly Florida's most talented defensive back, has admitted to taking plays off last season and he was still one of the best defenders in the SEC.
Look for Hill to play at 110 percent Saturday and be a nightmare for Miami (OH) quarterback Zac Dysert on a long, hot day for the RedHawks in "The Swamp."
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