10 players who need to step up for the Gators this season – Jahanagahi

10 players who need to step up for the Gators this season

There are some seasons that look more and more clear as they start to approach. The rosters get set, the buzz gets loud one way or the other and all of the rankings come out in the late summer.

It’s that way in the SEC for most teams. We pretty much know that Alabama and Georgia are going to be at the top while Vanderbilt takes its perennial place at the bottom.

The other 11 teams? Not a clue.

And that includes the University of Florida with a new coach and a new way of doing things. It’s important to note that Billy Napier is building for the long haul while also knowing he will be immediately evaluated by his first Florida team.

Here is where we remind you that Nick Saban won six regular-season games (over/unders in Vegas don’t count bowl games) and Kirby Smart won seven in their first years.

And we also remind you that first-year coaches after Charley Pell (we’d like to forget 0-10-1) have done pretty well at UF. All but Will Muschamp won at least eight games in their first seasons.

However, most of the early betting sites have Florida’s over/under at seven. To be honest, that’s closer to the floor than the ceiling even with the difficult schedule Florida has in front of it.

I’d say the floor is 6-6 and the ceiling is 10-2. The truth is that Florida is one of the “x-factors” in a league that is full of them with all of the transfers in and out of SEC schools.

But let’s concentrate on the Gators and how they get to the ceiling. To do so, these 10 players are going to have to play at a different level. Not all of them, mind you, but most of these 10.


AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

When Miller went out in the opening game of last year and was lost for the season, he took Florida’s defense with him. Florida didn’t have a backup that could be physical against the run and it showed.

Miller looked good in the spring game, but you could tell he was a little out of shape. That’s what the summer is for.

Miller needs to play at a certain level if Florida is going to get back to playing well on defense.


Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this is a no-brainer. The sample size on Richardson is not that great because of missing time and then having that awful game against Georgia.

Still, he is being projected as a first-round pick because of his skill level. Now, we will see if he can grow up and play like a first-rounder.


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida’s offensive line is filled with guys who have played a lot of snaps, but Tarquin at right tackle is going to have to up his game after getting two starts last year.

Tarquin can also play left tackle, but the point is that he cannot be a liability on the offensive line. If he plays well, this could be the best offensive line Florida has had in quite a while.


UAA Communications/Isabella Marley

This is another case where you like a lot of the talent on the defensive line, but Florida needs Lee to have a big year at defensive tackle next to [autotag]Gervon Dexter[/autotag].

Lee has the ability to make that happen and it was a real problem that Florida tried unsuccessfully to fill with transfers in 2021.


UAA Communications/Tim Casey

Either one. Doesn’t matter which one. But Florida has two former five-star running backs (both transfers) who have yet to really contribute.

This is going to be a team that is going to run the ball and has to be efficient to make the Billy Napier offense work. [autotag]Montreal Johnson[/autotag] will likely be the starter, but there are going to be other running backs who get plenty of carries.

One of these two (or both) needs to become dangerous.


UAA Communications/Isabella Marley

Sapp was great in the spring game after getting to school late last year. He’s got the potential to be a stud and will get plenty of reps at defensive end.

He had a child recently and we’ll see if this is someone who is ready to come into his own and make a difference.


Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

It’s not an exaggeration to say that a school that used to be able to throw a number of wide receivers is not exactly Wide Receiver U right now.

Henderson seems like the guy who could change after getting some chances, playing in all but one game in his first two seasons.


UAA Communications/Isabella Marley

Marshall was a big-time recruit who was up and down as a freshman. That was with [autotag]Kaiir Elam[/autotag] on the other side and now Marshall is THE GUY at cornerback.

For Florida to have a secondary worthy of the DBU moniker, Marshall is going to have to be a lockdown corner that forces offenses to forget one side of the field.


AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The same goes for Torrance. Florida needs a safety that is part-ball hawk and part sure-tackler.Torrance had three picks last year (two against Georgia) and 87 tackles. The experience of playing as much as he has will give him an edge in a secondary that is loaded with possible stars.

But that’s just it. They are possible stars. For Florida to get to 10 wins, he will have to play at another level.


AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Florida will have formations with multiple tight ends, but it is not a position where we know someone will make a difference.

It’s a different offense with Napier that requires more blocking from the tight end, but multiple players will get their opportunities. If one can step up as an offensive weapon, it will make life easier for whoever is at quarterback.

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