As of the writing of the post, the Florida Gators have seen seven players announce their intentions to transfer. All seven players seeking to play football elsewhere are from the offensive side of the ball.
Leading the list of those intending to leave the University of Florida and pursue their athletic and academic careers elsewhere is redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy. Murphy, who graduated this past Saturday, will be eligible to play immediately at whatever school chooses to accept him as a graduate student.
Despite being told by head coach Will Muschamp that there will be an open competition for the role of starting quarterback, Murphy decided to finish his career elsewhere. Few believe the competition to truly be open and Murphy was among those skeptics. It has long been believed that, if healthy, junior Jeff Driskel will return to the role he left after his season-ended injury against Tennessee.
Due to Driskel’s return, the decision to play redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg when Murphy was himself hurt, and the impending arrival of recruit Will Grier, freshman Max Staver has also decided to transfer from the program. It was thought that Staver didn’t come off of the Florida bench when Murphy couldn’t play because he was a true freshman and the coaching staff didn’t want to lose his redshirt status to what was a lost season. With the possibility of being fourth or even fifth on the depth chart had Murphy stayed, Staver decided to leave as well.
While some think Murphy’s departure gives four-star prospect Grier a better chance to claim the starting spot at some point during the 2014 season, the incoming freshman may have his sights set on redshirting and learning all he can from the sidelines his first year. While Driskel is the starter and Mornhinweg does have experience at this point, if 2014 is anything like 2013, we may see Grier in action.
Also transferring is sophomore tight end Kent Taylor. Taylor came out of Land O’ Lakes, FL (Land O’ Lakes) as one of the top recruits at the tight end position, but leaves Florida after two seasons and only two receptions. Much more was expected when he signed with the Gators, but Taylor was never able to crack the lineup. A pass-catching tight end, Taylor was also the smallest scholarship player at the position on the roster. Not able to double as a blocker, Taylor was relegated to the sidelines during the 2013 season.
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Ian Silberman actually started four games during the 2013 season, but that was mostly due to injuries along the line. Silberman, like Murphy, graduated and will use the NCAA transfer rule to be immediately eligible with another program where he will look for increased playing time.
Redshirted freshmen Rhaheim Ledbetter and Quinteze Williams both elected to transfer after neither were able to find their way into the rotation on either side of the ball. Ledbetter came to Florida as a defensive back, but switched to fullback before the 2013 season. Williams couldn’t find a consistent role on either of the offensive or defensive lines.
Finally, freshman offensive lineman Trevon Young only needed one season to decide college football wasn’t for him. He is rumored to be hoping to play college basketball going forward.
With all seven transfers announced so far occurring on the offensive side of the ball, the struggles continue to mount for the Gators. In the midst of a slump that hasn’t been experienced in decades in Gainesville, the offense looks to rebuild again in 2014. While many of the players transferring were not contributors and most likely weren’t going to be in the immediate future, there are now seven additional roster spots to fill. With injuries seeming to be a never-ending problem at both quarterback and along the offensive line, you need bodies.
Florida will now turn to recruiting to fill those spots, but each additional day without an offensive coordinator may make that difficult. In December alone, the Gators have added three offensive players to their 2014 commitment list, but that could be difficult to maintain given the uncertainty present at the moment. From coaching to recruiting to the roster to the games, the offense has plenty of questions to answer.