Florida Football Preview
Since Dan Mullen took over in Florida they’ve slowly been improving and catching up to the blue bloods of the conference. Mullen has done a tremendous job with the team, making them a feared opponent for anyone they run in to. At this point, most of the team is guys that were recruited by Mullen, so this looks to be the year they have the best shot at taking over the SEC. The experience that’s on this roster paired with some of the untapped talent will be what makes Florida so intriguing in 2020.
After being thrown into the fire due to a Feleipe Franks injury last season, Kyle Trask will return as the unquestioned starter. Trask is on the radar of 2021 NFL Draft Quarterbacks but will need to continue to grow in 2020 because of his lack of experience. He was the starter for his team in high school as a freshman, then never started a game until this past season. He split time with Miami QB, D’Eriq King, for the rest of his high school career. Trask still has a lot to improve on between the ears, but his arm talent is undeniable. Emory Jones will be the backup and get mixed in on some wildcat packages because of his running ability.
The loss of Lamical Perine is a big one, however they proved last year that they had the necessary depth to still be efficient on the ground. Dameon Pierce will likely be the day 1 starter after rushing for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns while being behind Perine. Malik Davis has been quiet since his freshman season because of injuries. He will combine with Pierce to make a solid 1-2 punch. The wildcard of the group is Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard. The Florida native is a former 5 star and #1 ranked RB in his class. Lingard didn’t play much at Miami but is a speedster that will see some time in this backfield.
Florida lost Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland, Freddie Swain, and Josh Hammond to graduation last year. For most teams that would be a detrimental loss, but thankfully the Gators return Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney, and Jacob Copeland. Grimes is the best of the group; I’d bet the Ohio State transfer will be the leading receiver statistically. Toney is explosive after the catch but hasn’t seen the field much. Copeland rounds out this receiver group along with Xzavier Henderson, C.J Henderson’s brother.
The Gators bring back one of the top tight ends in the nation. Kyle Pitts has been a huge part of this offense the past few years and is my early TE1 for the 2021 NFL Draft. More WR than TE, Pitts has great separation ability for the position and will assume a flex TE role for the rest of his playing career. Sophomore Keon Zipperer is the favorite to be the backup at this point.
The offensive line isn’t littered with many big-time names than draft fans should know, but this will be an experienced group going into 2020. They will need to improve this season to help the inexperienced Trask and this new stable of RBs. Stone Forsythe and Brett Heggie are back at left tackle and center, respectively. Both will be 5th year seniors and will be leaders of this unit. Richard Gouraige and Ethan White will return at the guard spots. Jean Delance rounds out the offensive line and will be the starter at right tackle.
Kyree Campbell and Tedarrell Slaton will be starters on the interior of Mullen’s even front. Slaton brings that run plugging style to the front whole Campbell offers some more juice as a pass rusher. Zachary Carter will be the starter as a base defensive end he has the ability to hold up against the run and get to the Quarterback. Jeremiah Moon is a pass rusher who has flashed on film and has shown some really good bend around the edge. He hasn’t yet been in a full-time role at Florida and will likely have to beat out Brenton Cox Jr. for the spot. Cox is in that similar mold, a pass rusher who can turn the corner.
Ventrell Miller returns as a starter for the Gators in 2020. Miller racked up 55 tackles and 3 sacks last year and will be looking to improve on that and try to garnish some NFL Draft attention. James Houston will be the preferred linebacker next to Miller in their nickel packages.
With the loss of CJ Henderson, the rest of these Florida DBs will really have to step up this upcoming season. Marco Wilson generated some hype early last season but ended up returning to school. The brother of Quincy Wilson will now be the best corner on the team. Kaiir Elam will play on the perimeter opposite Wilson. Amari Burney is an overhang defender who flashed in 2019, he’ll start in that nickel role in Mullen’s defense. Brad Stewart Jr. highlights an experienced safety room. He is draft eligible again but needs to be more consistent. Shawn Davis and Donovan Stiner round out a pretty solid back 5 for the Gators at safety.