Florida Gators 2010 University of Florida Column 1 Column 2 General Information First season 1906 Athletic director Jeremy Foley Head coach Urban Meyer 5th year, 57–10 (.851) Home stadium Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Stadium capacity 88,548 Stadium surface Grass Location Gainesville, Florida Conference SEC Division Eastern All-time record 654–374–40 (.631) Bowl record 18–19 National titles 3 Conference titles 8 Heisman winners 3 Consensus All-Americans 27 Rivals Florida State Seminoles,Georgia Bulldogs,Tennessee Volunteers,LSU Tigers,Miami Hurricanes,Auburn Tigers Offense Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6 # Name Position HT WT Class 12 John Brantley QB 6' 3" 218 JR 2 Jeffery Demps RB 5' 8" 184 JR 45 T.J. Pridemore FB 6' 1" 247 SO 6 Deonte Thompson WR 5' 11" 203 JR 3 Chris Rainey WR 5' 9" 176 JR 11 Jordan Reed TE 6' 3" 240 FR 73 Xavier Nixon LT 6' 5" 300 SO 57 Carl Johnson LG 6' 5" 360 SR 55 Mike Pouncey C 6' 4" 310 SR 66 James Wilson RG 6' 3" 315 JR 76 Marcus Gilbert RT 6' 5" 322 SR Defense Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6 Column 7 # Name Position HT WT Class 94 Justin Trattou DE 6' 3" 252 SR 91 Earl Okine DE 6' 6" 280 SO 90 Lawrence Marsh DT 6' 5" 288 SR 6 Jaye Howard DT 6' 3" 295 JR 40 Brandon Hicks LB 6' 2" 228 SR 43 Jelani Jenkins LB 6' 0" 220 FR 16 A.J. Jones LB 6' 1" 226 SR 1 Janoris Jenkins CB 5' 11" 186 JR 28 Jeremy Brown CB 5' 10" 182 SO 10 Will Hill S 6' 1" 204 JR 35 Ahmad Black S 5' 9" 189 SR Special Teams Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6 # Name Position HT WT Class 19 Caleb Sturgis K 5' 10" 192 JR 17 Chas Henry P 6' 3" 222 SR 3 Chris Rainey KR 5' 9" 176 JR 2 Jeffery Demps KR 5' 8" 184 JR Preseason AP All-American Team Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6 # Name Position HT WT Class 55 Mike Pouncey C 6' 4" 310 SR Preseason All-SEC Coaches Team Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6 # Name Position HT WT Class 57 Carl Johnson LG 6' 5" 360 SR 55 Mike Pouncey C 6' 4" 310 SR 1 Janoris Jenkins CB 5' 11" 186 JR Season Preview The 2010 Florida Gators are going to look a little bit different from the past Championships we’ve all seen. I’ve loved the Florida Gators since I could walk, it’s in my blood. I’m sure a lot of people have grown to either love the Gators or hate them, especially with everything being about Tim Tebow the past 2 years on ESPN. But make no mistake about it, this team will be on par in the talent department with the past few renditions. The biggest difference obviously comes in the form of experience, or lack thereof, something that tends to happen when you send what seems to be almost your entire roster to the pros. And of course, with experience comes intangibles and that immeasurable ability to simply win ballgames. The last rendition of the Gators undoubtedly had that killer instinct. This version? Well, that remains to be seen. Here is a very early look (but is it ever too early to start looking towards the football season?) at who might be the X-factors for Florida’s offensive unit in 2010. These guys should have a big say in how high in the polls the Gators are able to go, and not to mention, how often they can ring up the scoreboard next season. With so many key departures from last year’s team, there is plenty of room for someone (or someones) to step up big time and fill in the void. The Offensive line: No discussion about how an offense will perform can take place without starting in the trenches and taking a look at the offensive line. It’s not a profound statement to say that the offensive line makes or breaks an offense, but it’s also not fair to leave these guys off the list. So for a unit so important, why are they so low on this list? You’re probably thinking its because it’s not the “sexy” choice to pick the linemen to make the X-Factor list. While that may be true, it’s because you know what you are going to get with this crew — a veteran unit that will do it’s job game in and game out. The team loses first-round selection and Rimington Award winner (nation’s best center) Maurkice Pouncey. But what better way to replace a Pouncey than with… well, a Pouncey — his twin brother Mike. Pouncey will get a chance to show the same versatility that helped his brother skyrocket up the NFL Draft boards by moving to center this season. Alongside Pouncey, the Gators will feature three other returning starters in sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, who started the last five games of 2009 as a true freshman, senior left guard Carl Johnson, and senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert. Senior Maurice Hurt and junior James Wilson are expected to battle for the right guard spot. The Gators are set at offensive line, and that stability will give the next five guys on this list every opportunity to break out this year and become an X-Factor, someone poised to take on a new and potentially major role in the team’s plans, with their impact being the “X-Factor” on how the season pans out for the Gators. Mike Gillislee, RB, Sophomore: If you saw Florida’s beatdown of Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl to conclude last season, then you know why Gillislee is on this list. Gillislee only had five carries in that game, but he made them count, racking up 78 yards, including a 52 yard scamper. A true freshman last year, Gillislee didn’t get much playing time in a crowded backfield that also featured Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Moody. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound back is not going to all of a sudden take over the “feature” back role by any means in his second season, but I foresee him having a noticeable impact on the Florida offense this season. With Chris Rainey moving to the slot, someone needs to fill in that void of extra carries in the backfield to complement Demps (speed) and Moody (power). It has always seemed that Urban Meyer and Co. have never really trusted Moody with prime carrying opportunities, which is another reason I see Gillislee having a breakout season. Another factor to consider in the equation is the appearance of true freshman Mack Brown in the backfield in the fall. Brown has the talent to be that every-down back that Meyer has craved since he arrived at Florida. There is a very good chance that he will get a decent number of carries this year as a freshman, but because it is early in the offseason and you never know what to expect from freshmen, I am tabbing Gillislee as No. 5 on the X-Factor list for Florida’s offense this season. Jordan Reed, TE, Sophomore: In an offense that did not exactly have a reliable downfield receiving threat for Tebow last season, other than Riley Cooper, the Gators went early and often to the tight end machine, Aaron Hernandez. The large but deceptively nimble Hernandez was probably Florida’s top offensive X-Factor last season outside of the do-everything Tebow, so his replacement has extremely large shoes to fill in the offensive scheme. That guy appears to be Jordan Reed, the red shirt freshman who was recruited to play quarterback at Florida. With Tebow and now John Brantley playing the quarterback decision, it was a logical choice to move Reed to tight end so he could actually see time on the field. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder has the size to make an impact at tight end and replace some of the massive production that Hernandez brought to the table last season — 68 catches, 650 yards and eight touchdowns. Also rumored to be an option for plays in the Wildcat formation, Reed will get ample opportunities to make an impact for Florida’s offense. Most likely, he will not have nearly the impact that Hernandez had last season, especially since Reed is only a red shirt freshman, but he definitely has the tools to develop into that player. Luckily for Reed, there should be a plethora of options in the receiving corps this year, a slight change from last year’s receiving core. Deonte Thompson, WR, Junior: Thompson made headlines this offseason when Urban Meyer lashed out at Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler for taking a Thompson quote out of context and making it appear as if the red shirt junior “dissed” Tim Tebow as a non-traditional quarterback. In all fairness to Thompson, Tebow wasn’t a traditional quarterback, a big reason why Tebow was so special in the collegiate game. There was the perception last season that Tebow did not look Thompson’s way enough last year, preferring to lock on to his roommate, Riley Cooper, and whether or not that is true, Thompson will have ample opportunity to prove himself this season, as he is expected to be the top wideout among a very talented but young receiving corps. The team will now have red shirt freshman Andre Debose (missed all of last season with a hamstring injury and was/is expected to be the “next Percy Harvin”), red shirt freshman Stephen Alli (the mammoth freak of a wideout who stands at 6-foot-5), and a nice selection of freshman options in Solomon Patton, Robert Clark and Chris Dunkley for Brantley to choose from. With all of those targets, Thompson should get a chance to shine this season and I believe the Brantley-Thompson connection could cause opposing defensive coordinators fits, especially since there will be so many other threats. Chris Rainey, RB, Junior: Perhaps the biggest difference between last year’s Gators and the national champions of a season prior was the absence of a player who could absolutely take over a game in the manner that Percy Harvin did on many occasions during his time as a Gator. Although Andre Debose could eventually take over that title, next season is Chris Rainey’s time to shine. Rainey will be predominantly lining up in the slot position next season for the Gators, a role that suits his speed and elusiveness perfectly. The Gators experimented with his new role against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl and came away with very positive results — 4 rushes for 27 yards and a touchdown, 4 receptions for 71 yards. With a full offseason to prepare for taking on the all-important slot position, expect Rainey to absolutely blossom this season for the Gators. As mentioned previously, there should be countless options in the offensive scheme, which will make it hard for opposing defenses to key on Rainey, giving him the room he needs to operate and make things happen in space — trust me, he doesn’t need much. There is a very good chance that Rainey will develop into the prime weapon in the 2010 Florida offense, and although it is hard for anyone to replicate what Harvin brought to the table, Rainey will certainly make the Gators forget there was ever a void at the position last year. Along with that void, Rainey is also expected to replace one of the most dynamic returner in the nation the past four seasons in Brandon James, who graduated. James was a natural at the return position, causing most of Florida’s opponents (I’m looking at you, Tennessee) fits every time they had to kick or punt the ball. While the Vols, and others, will be glad to be rid of James, they will be feeling that incredibly nauseating feeling pretty soon if they don’t take the same approach in kicking the ball away from Rainey when he lines up to field the kick. John Brantley, QB, Junior: Fair or not, when you replace what many consider one of the greatest college players of all-time (yes, that would be Tim Tebow), you are under an enormous amount of pressure. Gator fans will get to taste more of a pro-style offense this year with Brantley taking the snaps, as he figures to spread the ball around to the aforementioned wealth of options. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Brantley (prototypical pro-style gunslinger) + a value-meal-length list of receiving options = potential video-game like statistics. While Tebow was a truly special player in every sense of the word, particularly the sense that he is one of those once-in-a-generation type players that is often imitated but never duplicated, Brantley will become a great player in his time at Florida. I would say it is a matter of time until that happens, but with the experience sitting behind Tebow and the in-game reps that he garnered last season, I foresee Brantley making Florida fans exceptionally giddy at the idea that the only difference between Brantley and Tebow is the style of offense — there is a very good chance the numbers will be even better this time around. The only downside is that many of his options are very young, but as a first-time starter, Brantley may make his share of mistakes as well. This is an offense that will develop rapidly and contend for the SEC Championship this season, with the potential to be the favorites out of the gate in 2011. I expect Brantley to be the prime X-Factor, the premier catalyst for that goal to come to fruition. Now let’s take a look into the Gators defense. If you quickly think of the phrase “Florida Gators,” the first thing that probably pops into your mind is Tim Tebow, and understandably so, with all of the media coverage devoted to him these days. But when you really sit down and take a few minutes to think about what defines the Florida Gators football team, a strong (or Strong, as in Charlie Strong) defense is what has made the Gators one of the best teams the past several seasons. The unit has seen the likes of Reggie Nelson, Brandon Spikes, Derrick Harvey, Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap and Jarvis Moss terrorizing opposing offenses, only for those offenses to see the next superstar step into the void left behind by his predecessor. With those stars and others (Major Wright, Jermaine Cunningham) gone from the Gators and left for the history books as national champions, it’s time for the new crop of defensive talents to step up and take over for the Gators. There are a lot of holes to fill, but rest assured, there is an unbelievable influx of talent heading to Gainesville to take their place (Have you seen their recruiting class? You might have heard something about it). The Gators will be fine and ready to continue their tradition of defensive excellence. The only question is which players will attempt to fill the mighty large shoes left by crews that have taken two national championships in the past four seasons. Ahmad Black, S, Senior: Ahmad Black is by no means one of the new kids on the block for the Gators, but when you think of the mighty Gator defenses of late you think of a strong-willed leader that will raise the talents of his teammates into a menacing unit. Guys like Reggie Nelson, Brandon Siler and Brandon Spikes have walked into that huddle when the defense made a stop, and you knew if someone did not make that play, he would not want to return to the sideline to face that leader. Accountability. That’s what a football team needs to succeed, and you don’t have that accountability without one of those demanding leaders. With Spikes gone, someone needs to step into that position. There is no better man to fill that void than Ahmad Black, the savvy senior safety who always seems to make a huge play for the Gators. Janoris Jenkins, CB, Junior: One of the keys to Florida’s defense last year was Joe Haden, the shutdown corner that is a crucial factor in making a good defense great. Haden’s supreme cover skills had opposing quarterbacks scrambling for another option when the locks were on his favorite receiver, leading to forced throws in other directions. That ability to erase an offense’s top option is something the Gators need to see from Jenkins next year. With much of Florida’s talent in the defensive backfield very green, Jenkins has to take the starting cornerback job and make it his own. Jenkins has shown a knack for making plays since he saw major playing time in his freshman season at Florida. Now, with Haden out of the picture, it is time for Jenkins to step up and prove that all that talent will come together in the form of Florida’s next shutdown corner. With the likes of Julio Jones and A.J. Green taking the field for two of Florida’s biggest games next year, Jenkins may have a big say in how high in the polls the Gators finish next year, depending on how successfully he plays the role of shutdown corner, and how he fares in those types of heavyweight match ups. Omar Hunter, DT, Junior: Perhaps the biggest question mark heading into 2010 for the Florida Gators is how their defensive line will perform. With the likes of seniors Justin Trattou, Lawrence Marsh and Duke Lemmens expected to start, at least in the early going, Florida has the veterans but may not have the talent they are used to rolling through the front line. Of course, there isn’t a huge concern from a talent perspective, with the likes of highly talented incoming freshmen Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd, and Dominique Easley entering the picture for Florida very soon. But as is always the case with freshmen, there is a huge question mark, and a huge unknown in the adjustment period they will need before they are ready to contribute in large doses in the collegiate game. Hunter, one of those former high school beasts, hasn’t had a breakthrough yet for the Gators and is nearing the now-or-never stage in his career. Hunter has the size (6′ and 308 lbs) and talent to be a supreme disruptor on the defensive line, but he still hasn’t figured out how to translate that ability to the actual games yet. If Hunter does turn the corner this year, the Gator defense may not have much of a drop off at all from last year’s dominating group. If not, a lot of very green linemen will be eating up all the defensive line’s minutes as the season progresses. Will Hill, S, Sophomore: Major Wright was a solid force for the Gators in the secondary the past few seasons and his talent level was unquestionable, as evidenced by his selection in the third round of the NFL Draft. But with Will “The Thrill” Hill, the Gators will be inserting a supreme talent into the full-time starting role at safety. Personally, I think he’s going to be the next Eric Berry of college football. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Hill has the chance to be a truly special player for the Orange and Blue, with the talent level to surpass even recent Gator great Reggie Nelson—a feat that will not be easy to accomplish, but if anyone can do it, Hill can. The Gators scored an absolute coup when they snagged Hill (ranked No. 3 overall in the 2008 class by ESPN) from New Jersey, and they have been biding their time as Hill developed over the past two seasons before truly unleashing him on the rest of the nation this season. Expect highlight plays that few other players are capable of making at the collegiate level when Hill takes the field. He is perhaps one of the truest definitions of the term “X-Factor,” with the speed and hard-hitting ability to completely erase plays or send them heading back the other direction.