Written by Chris Canada, Gatorsfirst.com Co-Founder
The long and dull offseason is finally coming to a close. Anticipation has never been higher in Gainesville, as last year's BCS champions are looking to do what no team in the BCS era has been able to accomplish: win a second consecutive championship.
With all of the players from last year's team coming back to defend their title, introductions are probably not needed. However, the Gatorsfirst.com team will give you the positional breakdowns you deserve to be fully ready for the 2009 season.
With the loss of starting receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy to the NFL, the receiving corps will have some questions entering the 2009 season. Harvin is someone who can’t truly be replaced, due to his impact on the entire offense (receiving, rushing, and blocking). And Louis Murphy was an incredibly underrated player.
But Coach Meyer has been working all offseason to find what combination of players can to the best job to fill those roles. Here is our receivers preview for the upcoming season…
David Nelson (RSr., No. 83, WR, 6'5'', 212lbs)
David Nelson came on really strong toward the end of the season, finally living up to his large expectations. He caught big touchdowns in the SEC and BCS championship games. He creates a big size mismatch, as he’s 6’5”. Now, he’s not the fastest receiver we’ve got, but he runs good routes and should be relied on heavily this season.
Deonte Thompson (RSo., No. 6, WR, 6'0'', 201lbs)
Mr. Thompson showed some flashes of brilliance last season, including a 46 yard touchdown against South Carolina. I’ve really looking forward to seeing this kid get on the field for an extended period of time. He can straight up fly, and he should be a good down-the-field option of Tim Tebow. I also expect him to be a target for many screens.
Riley Cooper (Sr., No. 11, WR, 6'3'', 215lbs)
It’ll be interesting to see if Cooper sticks around for his senior season, or if he takes the opportunity to play professional baseball. Signs are pointing to him taking the pro route. I’ve never been a big fan of his play on the field. He’s not a great route runner, and he drops a lot of balls.
He’s does, however, block well down field, and he’s always giving tremendous effort, so you can’t fault him for that. He’s improved each of his three seasons, and his leadership will be welcomed back if he chooses to stay.
Carl Moore (Sr., No. 9, WR, 6'3'', 225lbs)
Moore’s 2008 season was a bit of a disappointment, as I was expecting big things out of a 5-star JUCO transfer. He consistently dropped balls and wasn’t the big star I expected. Coming into this year, he’ll be relied on heavily for crossing routes, and to be our big possession receiver.
Andre Debose (Fr., No. 4, WR, 5'11'', 175lbs)
This is the kid everyone’s been raving about. Coach Meyer has said on many occasions that he is similar to Percy Harvin and will be a star. I’ve only been able to watch one game of his, but he did not disappoint, scoring a highlight reel touchdown in the Under-Armour High School All-American game.
He’ll probably be used in a similar capacity to Harvin, running lots of screens, as well as coming into the backfield quite a bit. He needs to bulk up a bit, as hes not nearly as strong as Harvin was, but that comes with time with the Gators strength coaches.
I expect to see some usage of redshirt freshmen Frankie Hammond Jr. and Omarius Hines, as they are ready to show the Gator Nation what they can do. T.J. Lawrence is another redshirt freshman ready to play, but I don’t think he’ll see the light of day with all of the other talent at WR.
Redshirt sophomore Paul Wilson will see some playing time as well, after losing most of last season with a foot injury.
Aaron Hernandez (Jr., No. 81, WR, 6'2'', 250lbs)
The most tattooed man in the history of Connecticut will be our most important receiver this season. He followed up a great freshman season with a spectacular sophomore campaign, scoring five TDs. I expect him to continue to make highlight reel catches and be that safety valve that Tebow needs. If he has another great season, I fully expect him to leave for the NFL.
Desmond Parks (Fr., No. 80, WR, 6'4'', 233lbs)
Parks will surely be involved in the offense as a true freshman, as the coaching staff has hinted at using more two-TE sets. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future at TE will look like after Hernandez leaves.
I've already discussed QBs and RBs. Look for the offensive line preview tomorrow.