Florida Gators Transfer Roundup: Tyler Murphy Leads Offensive Exodus from Gainesville

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.

Tyler Murphy, Florida Gators

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.

Florida Gators Will Play Freshmen Early And Often During 2012 Football Season

The Florida Gators will play a number of true freshmen during the 2012 football season and that trend will start during Saturday’s opener against Bowling Green. It’s not surprising* as it’s become quite the frequent occurrence not only at Florida, but around the nation.

Among those expected to contribute and even see time in the first game are running back Matt Jones, wide receivers Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman, tight end Kent Taylor, offensive linemen Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries, defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, linebackers Dante Fowler Jr. and Antonio Morrison, and defensive back Brian Poole.

We’re far past the days where a redshirt season was the norm. In today’s college football world, you redshirt if you’re hurt or you’re really, truly not ready to see the field. Otherwise, game experience is a desire of coaching staffs across the nation. The Florida freshman will earn valuable playing time in 2012 and (hopefully) be more prepared for 2013 and beyond.

*We should just go ahead and add a new category to the mix – Things That Don’t Surprise Anyone But Are Still Considered “Newsworthy.”

Injury Report: Freshman Tight End Colin Thompson Out 2 Months After Second Surgery

Florida Gators freshman tight end Colin Thompson will miss at least two months after having a second surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right foot. The time missed may lead to a redshirt season for the incoming TE. Missing that much time early in your first season puts you behind the learning curve and Thompson will miss plenty of practice experience during those two months. If not needed, he may be held out throughout 2012, leaving us waiting until 2013 to see him on the field.

Thompson’s absense leaves the Gators with three healthy tight ends currently participating in practice – Clay Burton, Kent Taylor and Tevin Westbrook. This may actually give fellow freshman Taylor a chance to earn more reps and put himself in a good position to see the field this fall. Both Burton and Westbrook were converted from the defensive side of the ball and starter Jordan Reed is being held out with an MCL spain. This is Taylor’s chance to prove his worth as the nation’s top high school tight end a year ago.

Thompson will undergo surgery on Wednesday during which a screw will be inserted in order to stabilize his foot. Because it’s the second surgery, recovery time could be more than the typical six weeks.

2012 Football Recruiting: Avery Johnson Says Hiring Of Brent Pease Gives Florida Gators “Big Push”

Fans have had a few questions since former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left to become the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. Among those was who the next coordinator would be and which offensive weapons the Gators would add. Earlier this week Brent Pease was hired to take over the offense and while no playmakers have committed, they sure have noticed the direction Florida is taking.

We’ve already heard the great things current commit Kent Taylor had to say about Pease. We’ve been told it may have made a positive impact with both Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor. Now we’re finding out Avery Johnson may have a tough decision to make.

Since committing to play for the LSU Tigers all the way back in September of 2010, Johnson has flirted with Florida. The younger brother of current Arizona Cardinals star and former LSU All-American Patrick Peterson, Johnson seemed like a lock to the Tigers, but rumors came up time and time again about the possibility of him coming to the Gators. The possibility may be much less rumor and much more likely now.

Johnson told Bryan Holt of Inside the Gators – the Rivals.com Florida affiliate site – that the hiring of Pease gave the orange and blue a “big push.” ($) Although Johnson remains committed to LSU, it’s down to the Tigers and the Gators. Will Muschamp and Aubrey Hill will visit the star wide receiver on Friday, January 20 in hopes of making one final in-person push before National Signing Day.

2012 Football Recruiting: Stefon Diggs Likes Brent Pease Hire; Refers To Florida Gators As “We”

There are about a million ways to take the words a prospect uses during his recruitment. Some say exactly what’s on their mind; others can be extremely cryptic. When an uncommitted prospect uses the word “we” when talking about a specific school, you take notice. When Stefon Diggs – one of the nation’s top wide receivers and a target of virtually every top program – says it in reference to the Florida Gators, you want need to find out more.

Diggs was quoted as being in support of the Gators’ hire of now former Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator Brent Pease. He mentioned that he likes what Pease has done and wants to play in a similar system. And he dropped this as well:

“I know he likes to throw the ball a lot, so I guess we got somebody good.” – Stefon Diggs

As I said, there are a million ways to look at that. It could be an indication of where Diggs is leaning. It could just be the way he speaks. It could have been a slip. It could have been nothing at all. If we’ve learned anything from following recruiting, it’s more likely any of the options that aren’t the first one. It was probably just something he said that we shouldn’t take to be the definitive moment of his recruitment. However, we did learn that Florida is still firmly among his options. Diggs has been hard to get a read on, but appears to be very pleased with the direction the Gators are going with Pease.

Be sure to read the entire article linked to above. Current commit Kent Taylor also has great things to say about Pease and believes the hire may go a long way with Nelson Agholor.

Alligator Army Recruit Report: Kent Taylor, TE, Land O’ Lakes

With a new commitment comes the return of the Alligator Army Recruit Report. For more on the latest member of Florida’s 2012 recruiting class, check out this piece where I break down highlights from Kent Taylor’s Land O’ Lakes’ days. Taylor – the nation’s top tight end prospect – is a great addition to the class and a perfect compliment to Colin Thompson. The two are different types of tight ends and should both have an impact on future offenses.

Kent Taylor Commits To Florida; Gators Add Nation’s Top Tight End

Nearly a month ago, Land O’ Lakes tight end Kent Taylor told Florida he was committed to the Gators. On Thursday, he made that news public. The nation’s top tight end told the world he would wear orange and blue throughout his college career.

The news isn’t much of a surprise, but is still something to excite Florida fans. After three straight losses, the news of transfers and a decommitment, those cheering for the Gators would take any good news they could get their hands on.

Taylor joins fellow commit and tight end Colin Thompson to form what looks like the perfect pair. With word circulating that Florida will take three tight ends as part of their 2012 recruiting class, Charlie Weis might not be done with the position just yet.

For more on Taylor, head over to Alligator Army. Coming up: I breakdown his highlight reel.

Kent Taylor To Publicly Commit; Could Florida Be The Choice?

Land O’ Lakes, FL tight end Kent Taylor has already told the school he plans to attend that he should be considered a commit, but he hasn’t made his plans public. That announcement is reserved for Thursday, October 27 (tomorrow for those of you that own calendars). Taylor’s commitment would be a huge boost to Florida and many think that’s where he’s headed. He also lists FSU, Georgia and Penn State among his finalists, but many analysts point to the Gators. We won’t know for sure for another day, so hold off any celebration until then, and go ahead and keep your fingers crossed that these rumors become truth.

Florida Gators Host Friday Night Lights

Friday night is the night under the lights (psst…that is why they call it Friday Night Lights). The greatest camp of all the camps occurs on Friday night as the Gators host several of the nation’s top recruits. In attendance will be Dante Fowler, Stefon Diggs, Avery Johnson, Carlos Watkins, Kent Taylor, Derrick Henry, Kelvin Taylor and too many others to name.
What has become one of the most prestigious of these camps, FNL is usually a place where prospects are pushed toward the Gators and the Florida program. It is a great chance for them to see Florida and figure out how they may or may not fit in. There are many rumors out there about what could occur tonight. Among them: could Fowler make the switch from FSU? Do the Gators have the firepower to convince Diggs Florida is the right place for him? And can they keep everyone else away from Kelvin Taylor for another 19 months?
Most of the questions will probably not get answered in one night, but something is sure to come out of the event. And if there is no breaking news to be found, you can always take a look back two years.

For more on FNL (and just in case you did not click on the first link above), head over to Alligator Army where I provide more about the camp.