Rebuilding or Reloading?
That is the question indeed. For the 2010 Gators the answer appears to be a little bit of both. Florida football must pick up the pieces after losing it’s most storied and arguably greatest player ever. Superman, that would be QB Tim Tebow (Broncos) for anyone who’s been in a coma for the past 4 years and just woke up, has officially left the building to terrorize NFL defensive coordinators in the not too distant future. Many expect the Gators to be lost in his absence. Also gone are 3 starting receivers, the starting tight end Aaron Hernandez (Patriots), who incidentally led the team in receptions last year and All American center Maurkice Pouncey (Steelers) as well as 2 other starting offensive linemen. On defense the losses could be considered worse. The Gators must replace 2 starting defensive linemen, 2 starting linebackers, and half of the starting secondary. The significant losses include 2 time All American, and for this play my favorite Gator MLB ever , Brandon Spikes (Patriots), the ever valuable Ryan Stamper (Lions), Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots) and Carlos Dunlap (Bengals). The secondary saw the departure of 2 underclassmen, safety Major Wright, who will always be remembered for his devastating hit on Oklahoma WR Manny Johnson in the opening drive of the 2009 BCS Championship Game and star corner Joe Haden. In all the Gators sent 12 players to the NFL this year (9 via the draft, 3 via free agency) and conventional wisdom would say it is rebuilding time in Gainsville.
I would tend to agree with conventional wisdom if it were not for Urban Meyer and his stellar work. Since arriving at Florida Meyer has consistently kept Florida in the top tier of recruiting and his 2010 haul ranks as one of the best. Coach Meyer has often said he wanted the program to get to the point where players could leave and others, just as capable, would be waiting in the ranks ready to step right in and perform. The program in essence would be like a machine, needing only to reload. Thanks to years of top notch recruiting the Gator program is on the brink of being what Coach Meyer had envisioned all along, however it would be premature to think that the 2010 Gators will be as succesfull as they have been over the last 2 years (26- 2 ). To go 13-1 with a new quaterback and 6 new defensive starters is unthinkable in a schedule that includes Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, FSU, and Tennessee (and a potential SEC Championship Game). However, winning the SEC East is expected and that would put Florida 1 game away from another potential BCS Championship or at the very least a BCS Bowl game. Not too bad for a team that some would contend are in rebuilding mode. I on the other hand see the glass half full. The Gators are reloading and these are the guys who are ready to step right in and keep the machine rolling on all cylinders.
QB: John Brantley III: A highly recruited redshirt Jr Gator legacy that has been waiting patiently behind Tebow for his time to run the show. He knows the system, is a polished passer with an NFL arm and release. His time has come. Expect the offense to open up under Brantley’s arm.
WR: A stable of atheletic, fast, versatile yet unproven receivers for Brantley to exploit. These include: Carl Moore, Deonte Thompson, Omarius Hines, Andre Debose, Chris Rainey, Frankie Hammond, TJ Lawrence, Stephen Alli. All will contribute in different ways. I left out the strong group of incoming freshman on purpose.
LB: 2009 top recruits Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins will fill the void left by Spikes and Stamper. Both are faster and more athletic and have stepped up this Spring. These 2 could be really special. Senior leadership will be provided by AJ Jones and Brandon Hicks, 2 proven contributers.
S: Will Hill will step in for Major Wright. A veteran that has played significantly over the past 2 years and some considered him the best safety in 2009. Star recruit Matt Elam will also contribute as a freshman.
TE: Converted QB Jordan Reed (6-3, 240) has been heralded as one of the breakout players of the Spring for his athleticism and catching ability. He might also be used as a QB in 3rd and short situations a la Tebow. Younguns Gerald Christian and Desmond Parks will also see the field.
The cupboard is certainly not bare in Gainsville. Time will tell if the program is where Coach Meyer envisioned it would be, whether this team is rebuilding or simply reloading.
About the Author
Written by The Gator Great