Marcus Roberson to Declare for 2014 NFL Draft; Cornerback to Leave Gators

According to Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun, Gators’ junior cornerback Marcus Roberson will leave Florida early and declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Roberson only appeared in seven games for the Gators in 2013, missing time due to injuries and suspension, but he is still projected to be selected in the first or second round of April’s draft.

Marcus Roberson, Florida Gators

Despite playing in just more than half of the Gators’ games in 2013, Roberson’s draft stock isn’t expected to be impacted. His coverage skills have been one of his greatest strengths during his entire Florida career and many believe he will only get better with time.

Roberson’s play does present some concerns as he is a frequent offender when it comes to pass interference calls. He has always played the game physically and it has haunted him at times. However, he is still a relatively young player and discipline could come with time and coaching.

Roberson becomes the second Florida cornerback to leave the Gators early for the NFL Draft. He joins fellow junior Loucheiz Purifoy who declared his intentions to bolt to the NFL almost immediately following the conclusion of the 2013 regular season.

While Florida still has talent at cornerback, it is largely young talent that split time with veterans such as Roberson, Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins. The Gators need to reload immediately and will be sure to look at any available prospects during the final month of recruiting. Florida appears to be in good shape with Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson and Quincy Wilson currently committed, but Jackson is wavering and all three will need time to develop.

Orange and Blue Debut Becomes Glorified Practice; Are the Days of a Spring ‘Game’ Gone?

The Orange and Blue Debut was more spring practice and less spring game this time around, and it may be a sign of things to come.

Jeff Driskel - Florida Gators

Under former head coach Urban Meyer, the Florida Gators’ annual spring game took on a differing look depending on the whim of the coach. In mid-game, if Meyer wanted the field goal unit to keep kicking and kicking and kicking, they did just that. Under current head coach Will Muschamp, not much has changed. Gone may be the days of a true game and here to stay may be a glorified practice designed to end the spring in front of Florida fans in The Swamp.

There were reasons for the altered format and it had mostly to do with injuries. A depleted offensive line only allowed the Gators a practice environment. Without the ability to run out two full units, Florida turned the spring game into a scrimmage at times and a practice session at others. It came down to whatever works and whatever you can do with what you have.

There’s little to take from the Gators’ spring game, and even less so if it truly becomes a practice session like it did on Saturday. For every spring star that doesn’t bring that talent with him to the fall, there is a player that is relatively quiet during the spring semester only to break out when the games that count begin. Feel free to be disappointed now or overly excited at the prospect of a breakout star, but keep most of whatever it is you are thinking bottled up until August 31.

It’s hard to gauge exactly how much quarterback Jeff Driskel has improved. The passing game has to develop; that much we know. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease may find himself looking for work elsewhere if it doesn’t. It starts and ends with Driskel as he will enter the 2013 season as the undisputed leader of the offense. That wasn’t the case before the 2012 season. An 11-2 record may have given the soon-to-be junior some confidence heading into 2013, but now he needs to make the plays to go with it. Driskel can use his running ability to his advantage, but with a talented stable of running backs, he may not need to. He needs to develop as a passer and stretch the field. We’re all waiting for the fireworks to come back to Florida’s offense. And we’re long past waiting patiently.

Speaking of the running backs, the starting job belongs to Matt Jones and that’s a good thing. Jones came on strong in limited action as a freshman, ending the 2012 regular season with his coming out party in the victory over instate rival Florida State. Jones has distanced himself from the pack during spring practice, but there’s still talent behind him. Mack Brown has stuck around and hopes to earn carries and then there’s the player we’ve all been waiting for years to see in a Gators’ uniform. Kelvin Taylor didn’t disappoint on Saturday and we all hope he has many more successful Saturdays in his future.

Like Taylor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson enrolled early and was able to participate in spring practice. Unfortunately for Robinson, he missed eight practices due to a high-ankle sprain. Despite not being entirely healthy, the freshman was still able to show what he can bring to offense on Saturday. And fans weren’t the only ones impressed by Robinson. Muschamp is ready for Robinson to step in right away and cornerback Jaylen Watkins had the following to say:

“He got an injury and instead of backing down, he took on the challenge to go into the training room and get better and pushed out there while he was hurting. Today he was limping and still making great catches. When you see a guy like that, you know he has something great.” – Jaylen Watkins, Cornerback, Florida Gators

The spring has ended for the Gators and now the true wait begins. We have more than four months before we see the orange and blue in action again and all we have until then are the memories of the spring game that wasn’t a game at all. That leaves us plenty of time to discuss debate the good and the bad we expect to see from the Gators in the fall. It may be premature, but it feels mildly appropriate to break out the first one of these for the 2013 season now–just win.

Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After Win Over The Kentucky Wildcats

Another win, another new Florida Gators feature at The Bull Gator. The name is inspired by our quarterback Jeff Driskel and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which discusses a plethora of topics concerning the week’s NFL games. We hope to do something similar, but on a minor, more pertinent-to-us level. Don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as long.

And another happy week in Gatorland.

This week, the Florida Gators continued their football domination of the Kentucky Wildcats, shutting them out. Will Muschamp’s squad rose to No. 11/12 in the AP and Coaches Polls. The big story was the extension of the Gators’ 26-and-counting win streak over the Wildcats, a probable reason for the Kentucky fans to continue to revert their focus back to the basketball season, which is quite a while from now.

What Happened

Jeff Driskel continued his balling: Sir Driskel could eventually be one of the best Gators to play at Florida by the time he graduates. As a true sophomore, JD looks better in Brent Pease’s system than Brantley looked in Charlie Weis’. Part of that has to be because of Driskel’s mobility. His ability to avoid the pass-rush and make plays deep down the field thus far has been Roethlisberger-esque, and right now, he is leading our football team.

The defense was, for the most part, dominant: Led by a surprise Jaylen Watkins pick six, the Gators’ defense forced three turnovers, all interceptions. All could pretty much be attributed to Morgan Newton’s erratic inaccuracy, which was really terrible, but we’ll still claim those turnovers. On a similar note, there were a lot of open Wildcats that Newton completely missed, which needs to be worked on. Other than that and some success for Kentucky in the run game, Florida’s defense did indeed look pretty dominant.

Kentucky as, same-old Kentucky: There’s a reason none of the players on Kentucky have been alive since the last Wildcat win over the Gators. Kentucky is back this year with their usual football mediocrity, and their cause wasn’t helped much by starting quarterback Maxwell Smith’s unavailability.

The game was secured early: The Gators led 24-0 at the half, and Jeff Driskel and other key starters started their rests in the fourth quarter. Mike Gillislee got his rest early, not playing after the first series in the second half.

Receivers are getting open: This can be largely attributed to Driskel’s ability to extend the play and give the receivers more time to get open, but there’s no doubt that this team is better than last year’s in the receiving corps. Sure, no player is averaging 100 yards-per-game, but a good number of the Florida receivers are chipping in with a few catches in each game. With 10 players targeted in Saturday’s game, speedster Andre Debose, who was largely nonexistent in all areas of the game, was the notable exception.

The defense is great in the fourth quarter: I put this up last week, and nothing changed this week, so I figured I’d put this up again.

More raving for Jeff Driskel: Driskel threw his first interception of the year on a terrible throw up into double-coverage in the end-zone, but give him loads of credit. He followed up his mistake with another game that showed his improvement. Another game note: his accuracy is amazing.

Ouch Video Of The Day

• Tight end Jordan Reed sandwiched: I really don’t know how Reed got up after this play, let alone held onto the ball. He came out of the play with a shoulder injury, but he appears to be fine.

This is also the play of the game, simply because I can’t find video of Jaylen Watkins’ interception and touchdown return.

Florida Gators 38 – Kentucky Wildcats 0; Shutouts Are A Wonderfully Beautiful Thing

The Florida Gators were kind enough to treat us to a shutout on Saturday as they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 38-0. The win marked the 26th straight for the Gators over the ‘Cats which ties an SEC record. Oh what a far cry from the rivalry that has developed on the basketball court between these two schools. Before we get to my thoughts on the entire game, yet another edition of What I Wrote at the Half.

It wasn’t the fastest of starts for the Florida Gators, but we didn’t necessarily have to wait until the second half to see improvement either. 24-0 at the half is definitely workable and something to be happy about. That’s 24-0 with some obvious improvements to be made as well, so it’ll be interesting to see this team actually firing on all cylinders for 60 minutes.

Both sides of the ball suffered that slow start, but the defense managed to keep the Kentucky Wildcats out of the end zone and off of the scoreboard. All the while causing three turnovers. This one is for One Eyed Willy, but JAYLEN WATKINS IS THE GREATEST TO EVER PLAY THE GAME OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Now that that is out of my system, moving on. The Gators upped the pressure on Morgan Newton as the half went on, but at the same time are lucky he can’t hit an open receiver to save his life. Seriously, if Newton’s accuracy was even slightly better, this could be a closer game. Then again, as the defense warmed up, they started to shut down more of the run game that kept the Wildcats in it early.

As for the offense, well, things got going and the points did come. Jeff Driskel was a little off in the first half, but also on when he needed to be. He had a couple of throws get away from him, but also made the ones that counted. The interception wasn’t pretty and definitely a throw he wishes he had back. It should have been thrown right after the pump fake. The delay allowed the defense to tighten position. But hey, one interception in three and a half games is good for me, Driskel, Brent Pease, Will Muschamp and the entire Gator Nation.

So the Gators get ready to come out for the second half and I head back to the coach. All eyes are on 50 points.

As for the entire 60 minutes, there was offense and there was defense…neither of which came from Kentucky (HA HA HA). Sorry Kentucky fans, I have a 10 week old, which means sleep is no longer in my vocabulary, so the jokes get worse and worse and worse (not that they were ever top-notch to begin with).

The second half was quieter than the first with the Gators only scoring 10 points. Still 10 points to 0 from the Wildcats is a win. Florida kept mostly to the ground. Driskel had an impressive third quarter in which he completed seven of eight attempts, but that would be all Florida would throw the ball. Jacoby Brissett got decent time in mop up duty, but only handed off the ball or ran himself. Yes, that’s right, Brissett didn’t put the ball in the air once. I have to admit that’s a little surprising to me. Surely, the coaches didn’t want to embarrass Kentucky, but it wouldn’t have been an awful idea to let the backup throw the ball in a game situation. Any way…

Driskel is growing up right in front of us and looks like he will have no problem manning the job for the foreseeable future. There were the throws that got away from him, but he’s still a much improved quarterback and oh my the composure. The difference from last season to this is night and day. Nothing gets to him and that’s an attribute you want from a quarterback, not only in the SEC, but in any conference or even in any level of organized football. It’s looking more and more like this is a position the Gators don’t have to worry about.

If we had a true negative from the game (yes, there were needs improvements, but let’s go with the negative side for a moment), it was penalties again. Seven is about three or four too many. I’d even take five consistently at this point. While they are becomimg less and less stupid – if that makes sense – they are still there and there are still too many of them. In a 38-0 victory, that’s reaching for something to be upset about, but it is what it is. (I apology for that last line. I hate that saying and will blame my keyboard on putting it out there.)

The Gators move to 4-0, but what’s more important is three of those victories are conferences ones. A third of the way through the schedule and the Gators are already 3-0 in SEC play. That’s big and needed with a team like LSU on the horizon. The bye week comes at a good time. Work on penalties, shore up the areas of improvement, and get people healthy. October 6 looms over us now, but until then we can breath a heavy sigh of relief, enjoy the rest of the college football world, and remember how great it is to be a Florida Gator.

Football Recap: Florida Gators 27 – Bowling Green Falcons 14

We’ll run through the quick recap and start with a positive: it was a win. Is it time to just start cheering for wins and not have a desire for any style points? The Florida Gators defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 27-14 in the season opener for both teams. The Gators won; that is true. Otherwise, it felt like a deflating victory that didn’t answer many questions.

We know the name of next week’s starting quarterback. It’s Jeff Driskel. Driskel and Jacoby Brissett took their turns in the first half and Driskel came out on top, leading the Gators in the second half. There were moments of joy and moments of doubt. This we do know: Driskel needs to become more aware of the field. Be that making throws on the run, hitting receivers in stride, or knowing where the sidelines are. Overall, his performance was serviceable and those on Team Driskel are happy he’s the guy coming out of the first game.

The defense looked like it can be a good one and even a great one. It also looked like tackling from the secondary needs to improve. Marcus Roberson is a dangerous cover corner and Jaylen Watkins had his moments, but they and their unit mates need to wrap up the first time and not allow any additional yards. The first hit must result in the ball carrier hitting the ground. Among things we like from the defense was the pressure from the line. During passing plays, the line got into the backfield. During some running plays, it was a different story. The defense was solid, but can clearly get to the level of being an impenetrable rock. There’s something special there that comes out in bursts. We need it to be apparent on every down.

And then there were the penalties. And the penalties. And the penalties. And the penalties. They need to not just be eliminated, but whatever stronger word for “gotten rid of” we can find.

The star was Mike Gillislee. His lofty prediction for the 2012 season he would have doesn’t seem so lofty now. He’s good and can carry the offense. Gillislee is cleary the primary running back and we’re all okay with that. The Gators will rely on him to continue to put out performances like that. He’s gets our immediate reaction game ball and there’s a good chance he’ll hold on to it when we reevaluate the game in a day or two.

For now, the Gators have won and the rest of college football Saturday continues. It’s been a while since we’ve been calm watching Florida games. Every time a pass play develops, we sit on the edge of our seats and it’s been that way for two-plus seasons. That may not end anytime soon and it does make us all nervous. But we can relax for a few days at least. Game one is over; game two is on the horizon. More analysis will come in the next few days, but at this moment your to-do list should include having a great long weekend. It was rough at times, there were signs of maybe a little progress during others; all-in-all, Go Gators!

Florida Gators Set Depth Chart For First Game Of 2012 Football Season

Be afraid Bowling Green. Fear the two-headed quarterback monster that is coming your way. Or go about your day in a regular fashion because not you, us, or even the Florida Gators seem to know what will work heading into the 2012 season.

On Monday, the Gators released their depth chart for that first game against the Falcons and it doesn’t answer many questions. We’re not surprised and you shouldn’t be either that it contains four “OR” entries; even if it is only one of those we’re all really focusing in on – Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel. It hasn’t reached the level of debate of those two teenage vampires in those movies (was one not a vampire?), but Team Brissett and Team Driskel have picked their sides and are ready to see how the season plays out. Enough talk, it’s time to see how these two perform.

The other “OR” position battles won’t get headlines, but could be vital to the outcome of the first few games. Backing up Frankie Hammond Jr. at the X wide receiver spot is either true freshman Latroy Pittman or superstar-in-waiting (is this the year?) Andre Debose. We have to think that’s just to get both on the two-deep depth chart. Realistically, they are different receivers and Debose could see plenty of time as a deep threat while Pittman has already proved himself as a tough WR willing to do the dirty work.

The other position(s) up for grabs are both cornerback spots. It’s a four-man battle between Loucheiz Purifoy, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins. Purifoy is the only one without extensive experience, but has become something of a practice and workout legend during the offseason and has definitely implanted himself into the rotation. All four will play and we may see that rotation deep into the season to keep all the corners fresh.

So there’s the depth chart, mere days away from the first game of the 2012 season. Two quarterbacks – as we knew – and not a lot of surprises (if any).

Confidence Could Be Loucheiz Purifoy’s Biggest Asset

The position battle at cornerback may be one of the most open on the Florida Gators roster. There’s experience, youth and youth with experience, but anyone could steal playing time at any moment.

Here’s the rundown of the returning cornerbacks that were on the roster in 2011:

Jeremy Brown, RJR, 0 games, 0 starts*
Loucheiz Purifoy, FR, 13 games, 0 starts
Cody Riggs, SO, 13 games, 10 starts
Marcus Roberson, FR, 10 games, 10 starts
Jaylen Watkins, SO, 13 games, 8 starts

*Brown received a medical redshirt in 2011 and will be a redshirt junior again in 2012. He appeared in 11 games and started 10 in 2010.

You can ask just about anyone and they will tell you Roberson will occupy one side during the 2012 season. Although his play was shaky at times during his freshman season in 2011, he is the most talented corner on the roster and should excel in 2012 with a better grasp of the defense.

The other side is up for grabs. The Gators aren’t sure what they have in Brown. Injured for much of his career, Brown is a talented player that just can’t stay healthy. Both Riggs and Watkins have gained experience while playing plenty, but neither is seen as a lock opposite Roberson and both may be better suited for the nickel back role. Then you have Purifoy.

A special teams standout in 2011, Purifoy was held back by a hamstring injury and didn’t get a chance to earn playing time in the secondary early. As the season progressed, opportunities increased and now he finds himself with a great chance to earn a starting nod. Of all the talents Purifoy possesses – speed being a big one – his confidence may be the most important.

A cornerback has to be cocky to a certain extent. Let’s be honest, all athletes have to be, but Purifoy plays one of those positions where you specifically are targeted. Not only is a quarterback throwing to a wide receiver, he’s throwing at you. He’s daring you to make a play. That doesn’t faze Purifoy and could be one of the key reasons why he could be lined up on the field for the opening snap of the 2012 season.

Florida needs help at a number of positions and cornerback is one. Purifoy has pushed Riggs and Watkins and will get pushed by incoming freshman Brian Poole. Anyone could come out on top, but the new No. 15 is making his case and doing it well.

Last-Minute Thoughts: UAB Blazers @ Florida Gators

When I have the opportunity to do this an hour before Florida games, I will. When I don’t, I won’t. Seems simple enough. These are a few last minute thoughts that may have been covered in the preview, or they may have been missed entirely. Those of you not tailgating like a champion today can add any of your own. Then again, those of you that are out there enjoying all the glory of the tailgate can as well.

1. John Brantley and the deep ball. Okay, I don’t even need the deep ball. I’d even like the intermediate ball. Either way, let’s see more of it. Florida needs it in the arsenal before the SEC schedule.

2. The Chris Rainey Show with The Jeff Demps Band. Stay healthy gentlemen; you are the keys to the offense. This is your year.

3. A superstar at wide receiver. Deonte Thompson? Quinton Dunbar? Andre Debose? A star is out there. One will eventually have to step up and we’re all waiting to find out who it will be.

4. Offensive line consistency. It’s needed, for an entire 60 minutes. Protect Brantley and open lanes up the middle for the running backs.

5. Sharrif Floyd. So he won’t play, but fans will chant. Whether it’s “Sharrif Floyd” or “Free Sharrif,” it’ll happen and it’ll be glorious.

6. Lerentee McCray’s coming out party. McCray was better than many expected against FAU. The position is his to lose now. This is his second test.

7. In the stolen-from-the-preview department: love Marcus Roberson, have an unhealthy man-crush on Matt Elam, like Jaylen Watkins more and more every day.

8. From Eric Wilbur to Chas Henry to ??? The Gators haven’t punted yet, but sooner or later they will have to. Don’t be worried; history says it’ll be simply amazing.

9. Will Muschamp, Game 2. The new head coach has an excellent win percentage so far. He’ll keep it up there a little while longer. Game two should be as smooth as game one. Not a step back, but another step forward.

10. No looking ahead. The SEC schedule starts NEXT WEEK with Tennessee. Not this week; NEXT WEEK.

BONUS. Go Gators!

Florida Gators Defensive Backs – 2010 vs. 2011

The Bull Gator and I finish up the defense. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers.
2010: Ahmad Black – SR, Moses Jenkins – RJR, Will Hill – JR, Janoris Jenkins – JR, Jeremy Brown – RSO, Josh Evans – SO, Matt Elam – FR, Cody Riggs – FR, Josh Shaw – FR, Jaylen Watkins – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: C
Although I believe that the potential was there for them to be an above-average group, when looking back on the defensive backfield for the Gators in 2010, I decided to give the unit an overall grade of C. But really you could look at this unit as a tale of two stories with one half of the unit being outstanding and the other half being downright pitiful.
First, let’s start with the good, namely safety Ahmad Black and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. To say that these two guys deserve a grade of A would be an understatement as to how good they really were. Black had the most tackles on the team (108), the most interceptions (5), the most forced fumbles (3) and the most fumble recoveries (2). He also had twice as many unassisted tackles (73) than all but one other Gator (Jelani Jenkins – 41). Not to mention the leadership that he provided both on the field and in the locker room truly was immeasurable.
In 2008, the Gators won the national championship thanks in part to a freshman CB who found his way into the starting lineup on day 1 of the season and never looked back. By doing so, Janoris Jenkins became just the second true freshman in school history to start at CB on opening day. The stats for Janoris in 2010 may not be that overwhelming: 44 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and 1 sack, but his presence on the field made the entire defense better. Opposing quarterbacks were hesitant to go to his side of the field, and more often than not, when they did he was there to make a big play.
Then you have the other guys. The combination of Will Hill and Josh Evans at the other safety position left much to be desired. I could go on-and-on about just how disappointing of a season/career Hill had, but I think we have all been down that road before. And the revolving door of Moses Jenkins, Jeremy Brown and Cody Riggs at the cornerback position opposite of Janoris (for the most part) was, to be nice, less than stellar.
With that said, we did see glimpses of hope in 2010, including Brown, Riggs and Matt Elam showing that they have the potential to be stars for the Gators somewhere down the line, but for the most part, when one half of your defensive backfield fails to live up to the hype while the other half struggles to make up for their teammates’ mistakes, you know you are in for a rough year.
2011: Moses Jenkins – RSR, Jeremy Brown – RJR, Josh Evans – JR, Matt Elam – SO, Cody Riggs – SO, Jaylen Watkins – SO, Josh Shaw – RFR, Jabari Gorman – FR, Chris Johnson – FR, Loucheiz Purifoy – FR, Marcus Roberson – FR, De’Ante Saunders – FR, Valdez Showers – FR
Preseason Rating: C
If you would of told me a few months/years ago that starting in 2011, the defensive backfield of UF would be Janoris Jenkins, Will Hill, Matt Elam and a second cornerback of your choosing, I probably would have said, “sign me up!” Unfortunately that won’t be the case for two major reasons. First, Hill thought he was going to get drafted into the NFL. Well, he didn’t. But this actually might be a positive for the Gators given Hill’s lack of production on the field. And second, Jenkins really liked to smoke pot. I mean really liked to! Therefore, he will have to finish his college career in the beautiful city of Florence. No, not that Florence, but the one in northern Alabama.
So what are we left with? Well, if you ask me (which you didn’t), I say we are left with a group of guys who have yet to prove themselves on the collegiate level, but who have all the talent in the world to be great players.
At the safety position, Elam is the only guy at this point that I can say is definitely a starter. I think Elam will have a great season, but I am really basing that more on hearsay and hopes than on actual on-the-field production. The other safety position is up for grabs right now. Some think that it’s Evans’ spot to lose. Others believe that Josh Shaw or Jaylen Watkins may sneak up and take the position. And recently, there have been discussions of De’Ante “Pop” Saunders moving from cornerback to safety in order to lock down that spot. Unfortunately all of these guys have fairly limited (or no) playing time at the college level and therefore the second safety spot could be a significant point of weakness for the Gators’ defense in 2011.
As far as cornerback is concerned, I have been shouting from the rooftops one name these past couple of months and I’m not going to stop now: Marcus Roberson!!! Look for Roberson to join Joe Haden and the aforementioned Janoris Jenkins as freshmen starters at the cornerback position for the Gators. Roberson may struggle in the beginning, but he will be very good, very soon. The second CB position has the chance to be reminiscent of last year in which there are a couple of guys rotating in and out at that position. Guys like Brown, Riggs, Moses Jenkins and freshman Loucheiz Puriofy all have a chance to play at that spot and could be called on periodically throughout the season to step up.
To grade the defensive backfield going into this season is almost impossible to do. There are too many variables, too many open spots still, and too many guys with talent but no experience. I truly think that we could look back a few months from now and easily give this unit an A and just as easily give this unit a F. But with the former defensive back Will Muschamp at the helm teaching these guys on a day-in and day-out basis, I think we might all be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

The Long Snapper (5/7/10)

USF added another piece to the 2010 recruiting class.  A big piece.  A 6’8” piece.  T.J. Knowles comes to the Bulls from Saddleback College where he had 49 catches for 924 yards and seven touchdowns last season.  The 245-pound receiver who has three years of eligibility left chose USF over Oregon State and Washington.  Knowles is said to be a good route runner, but his size is obviously his biggest asset.  With the loss of A.J. Love for possibly the season, any additions at wide receiver are welcome.  A target like Knowles should be extremely valuable to B.J. Daniels, especially in the red zone. has selected three Florida players to its preseason All-American teams.  New center/former guard Mike Pouncey – a second team All-American last season – was named to the first team.  Punter Chas Henry was named to the third (which really is a travesty considering Henry has been the best punter in the nation for the past few seasons).  And safety Ahmad Black was an honorable mention.  With a young team in terms of age and experience heading into the 2010 season, the three seniors will be looked at to lead.  Their performances on the field should be the first step they take in becoming the next leaders for the Gators.
Who will end up claiming the other cornerback spot for the Gators remains a questionJanoris Jenkins has one spot locked up and will hold onto it until he decides it’s time for him to head to the NFL, but the other side has plenty of competitors.  Many believe Jeremy Brown currently has the edge.  Brown, you may remember, actually outperformed Jenkins after their first few practices as freshman.  Since then, injuries have plagued Brown, but he may finally be back at full strength.  True freshman Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins have also been impressive and both are expected to see plenty of time even if neither earns the starting spot.  Moses Jenkins is a consideration, but he’s probably a long-shot.  And finally, there’s Adrian Bushell.  Bushell may have had a chance to claim the position, but troubles pushed him down the depth chart.
Could Derek Dooley be any more different than Lane Kiffin?  Probably not.  Dooley is saying all the rights things.  He mentions hard work, discipline, and building a problem.  Nothing about other coaches, recruiting violations, pumping gas, or small towns in Florida.  While Kiffin wanted the spotlight, Dooley seems to be most concerned about cleaning up the state of the program both on and off the field.  And Tennessee fans seem excited.  Of course that could be just because he isn’t Kiffin.  But fans are ready for the next step of the program.  Good, bad, or ugly, the last few years are behind them and they are ready to move on.  Regardless of what Dooley says and does now though, he will ultimately be remembered for what the Vols do on the field during his tenure.
The Friday Fifth: Dont’a Hightower is already a good college football player.  When he’s done with his career at Alabama, he may even be considered great.  But is he the most exciting defensive player in the nation?  I have a lot of trouble naming someone who missed more than half of last season the most or best anything, but then again I don’t have a list of those I think are more exciting.  What other defenders out there vie for the title?
The List: A little of what you should be watching this weekend.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics – Game 3 (Tied 1-1) – Friday, 8:00
2. Chicago Blackhawks @ Vancouver Canucks – Game 4 (Blackhawks lead 2-1) – Friday, 9:30
3. Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks – Game 3 (Magic lead 2-0) – Saturday, 5:00
4. Montreal Canadiens @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 5 (Tied 2-2) – Saturday, 8:00
5. Saturday Night Live – Betty White, that’s right! – Saturday, 11:30
6. Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics – Game 4 (Tied 1-1) – Sunday, 3:30
7. Vancouver Canucks @ Chicago Blackhawks – Game 5 (Blackhawks lead 2-1) – Sunday, 8:00
8. And the New York Yankees visit the Boston Red Sox this weekend.
The Sixth Man: I’m a fan of Kenny Kadji.  I have been since he first signed with Florida.  Unfortunately, his career didn’t start out exactly like a fan would have liked it to.  He had some flashes during his freshman year, but struggled mightily as well.  Then the injury came.  Problems with his back caused Kadji to miss his entire sophomore season and led many to question whether he would ever live up to his promise.  He’ll have at least one more year to try to prove himself.  The NCAA granted Kadji a medical redshirt for last season.  He’ll enter the 2010-2011 season as a redshirt sophomore and have three full years left of eligibility.  Hopefully he’ll use them all because I still believe he can be an important part of the Gator basketball team.