GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Florida holding a draft to divide its roster for the spring game two weekends ago, fans didn’t get a true look at the Gators depth chart, as first-team and second-team players mixed together on both sides.
But spring practice as a whole provided a pretty telling gauge for where most players stand — at this point, at least.
Fall camp will bring more competition and more answers, of course, including an ultimate decision by Dan Mullen and his coaching staff on a starting quarterback and decisions from the NCAA on the eligibility of high-upside wide receiver transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes.
Florida’s offense looks a lot different in the fall with Jefferson and Grimes on the field, but for now, all the Gators can do is hope.
For those needing a refresher, Jefferson is one of several Ole Miss transfers seeking immediate eligibility because of the nature of former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze’s ouster and the NCAA sanctions that followed. Grimes, meanwhile, transferred from Ohio State to be closer to home in light of a family matter.
Ultimately, this new coaching staff has had only had 15 practices to evaluate the roster, so there’s potential for more shuffling throughout August.
But here’s a projection for the Gators offensive depth chart based on what reporters saw this spring.
1 A/B: Feleipe Franks/Kyle Trask, redshirt sophomores
3. Emory Jones, freshman
Opinions remain split on Florida’s older QBs. Expect this competition to continue deep into August, which is nothing new in Gainesville.
Franks has the mobility to run Mullen’s spread offense, but he still has to prove he’s improved in other regards after his rough redshirt freshman season. Trask has yet to play in a college game, but he delivered an impressive spring, showing a good combination of arm strength, accuracy and ability to spread the ball around and make plays in the second level.
Jones figures to get playing time as a freshman in small doses. Mullen has made it clear he won’t rush the talented dual-threat QB, but judging from Mullen’s track record, look for him to have a package of plays most weeks to build experience and confidence.
Florida also could look to add a graduate transfer QB to round out its depth chart. Unless Ohio State’s Joe Burrow opts to transfer and finds a fit with the Gators, it’s unlikely any potential grad transfer would impact the competition for the starting job.
1. Jordan Scarlett, redshirt junior
2. Lamical Perine, junior
3. Adarius Lemons, sophomore
4. Dameon Pierce/Iverson Clement, freshmen
Sophomore Malik Davis remains the wild card here. If he’s recovered from the knee injury that ended his impressive 2017 season and the coaching staff has no reservations about throwing him back into action, he could carve out a significant role. But given the Gators’ substantial depth at the position, it seems more reasonable they would take a very cautious approach with Davis. Mullen said he won’t have a sense for Davis’ availability until late August.
Meanwhile, again, should be just fine here. Scarlett returned from his season-long 2017 suspension and looked like the same guy who led the Gators with 889 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016.
Perine is another experienced option with 983 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Lemons, who missed the spring game because of an ankle injury, has tremendous upside, but until he becomes more consistent in the full responsibilities of the position he will have a limited role.
Pierce and Clement are both intriguing. Pierce had some nice moments during the spring, while Clement flashed on a couple plays during the Orange & Blue game. It would make sense for Florida to redshirt one of the two, though.
1. Tyrie Cleveland, junior
2. Trevon Grimes, sophomore
3. Daquon Green, sophomore
1. Van Jefferson, redshirt junior
2. Freddie Swain, junior
3. Rick Wells, redshirt sophomore
1. Kadarius Toney, sophomore
2. Josh Hammond, junior
3. Jacob Copeland, freshman, or Dre Massey, redshirt senior
If Cleveland and Toney can stay healthy for a full season, if this coaching staff finds better ways to cash in on their strengths, if Jefferson and Grimes are eligible and if the quarterback play is at least serviceable, this really could be a fun group of wide receivers.
Those are a lot of ifs, but the potential is there.
Jefferson comes to Florida with two years of SEC experience from his time at Ole Miss, and he looked as polished as any Gators receiver this spring. Very early in spring practice, his new teammates were already singing his praises and taking notes on his route running. Jefferson, who played a lot of slot with the Rebels, can move all over the field. Assuming he’s cleared to play, he’s a good bet to lead the Gators in receiving yards in 2018.
Cleveland and Grimes, meanwhile, are two other big-play threats who can stretch the field. Cleveland, of course, was responsible for pretty much every long completion the Gators mustered last fall, and Grimes looks like a future star for Florida.
While the Gators have legitimate deep threats, look for this offense to also make heavy use of screens and short strikes to its slot weapons. Toney became an instant fan favorite last fall in limited sample sizes and could truly excel in this offensive system. Hammond, meanwhile, settled in to the slot and was a popular checkdown target for Franks in the spring game. Copeland, one of Florida’s top recruits, arrives this summer and should work his way into the mix for early playing time as well.
Overall, expect the Gators to get a lot of receivers involved this fall, as Swain and Wells in particular, showed that they still may have some untapped potential.
1. C’yontai Lewis, redshirt senior
2/3. R.J. Raymond OR Moral Stephens, redshirt seniors
4. Kemore Gamble, redshirt freshman, OR Kyle Pitts, freshman, OR Dante Lang, freshman
Lewis is an obvious breakout candidate and the clear No. 1 tight end for Florida in an offense that, by all accounts, intends to utilize the TEs in the passing game far more than in recent years.
Beyond Lewis, though, it’s jumbled.
The new staff has taken a liking to Raymond, who came to Florida as a walk-on and has mostly contributed on special teams to this point. Stephens is a capable receiver, and it sounds like Gamble still has some developing to do to reach his 4-star potential.
It will be interesting to see how Florida’s incoming freshman tight ends, especially Pitts, ranked the No. 5 TE in this signing class on the 247Sports composite, push the others.
1. Martez Ivey, senior
2. Jean DeLance, redshirt sophomore
3. Stone Forsythe, redshirt sophomore
4. Richard Gouraige, freshman
1. Brett Heggie, redshirt sophomore
2. Tyler Jordan, senior, OR Kavaris Harkless, redshirt senior
4. Chris Bleich, freshman
1. T.J. McCoy or Nick Buchanan, redshirt juniors
3. Griffin McDowell, freshman
4. Nick Villano, redshirt junior
1. Fred Johnson, senior
2. Kavaris Harkless, redshirt senior, OR Tyler Jordan, senior
4. T.J. Moore, redshirt freshman
1. Jawaan Taylor, junior
2. Stone Forsythe, redshirt sophomore
3. Noah Banks, redshirt junior
4. Andrew Mike, redshirt senior
Heggie missed all of spring recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2017 season prematurely. He looks far enough along, though, that he should be ready to reclaim his left guard spot.
That presumably would make Jordan once again a swingman capable of backing up most every position on the line, but primarily the two guard spots.
The competition to watch is at center between McCoy and Buchanan, who is pushing the incumbent starter. McCoy went down with an injury late in the spring game, but no update was provided as to the severity.
Moore was also injured during the spring, but there was no details or timeline provided for his situation.
Bleich and Banks were newcomers to Florida this spring and will try to make another push to climb the depth chart in the summer, when they will be joined by newcomers Gouraige (one of the keys to the Gators’ 2018 recruiting haul) and McDowell.