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.”

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).

Florida’s Need For A Go-To Wide Receiver May End With Latroy Pittman

Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman did what so many other newcomers do these days; he graduated from high school early and enrolled early at Florida. Behind committing to the Gators in the first place, that may have been the best decision Pittman has made.

Thought to be in serious contention for playing time at both wide receiver and defensive back, Pittman may be inline for something even more: a starting position on offense. Not only was Pittman impressive during the spring, he was the most impressive pass catcher on the roster. For a team that needs not just one, but all of the wide receivers to step up, Pittman’s emergence comes at a great time.

Despite gaining more experience than anyone ever dreamed they would during their first season with the Gators, quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel have a long way to go. With a receiver like Pittman in their corner, their jobs get easier. Pittman is reliable on short plays, has surprising speed in full pads, and does the dirty work you don’t always find from wide receivers. Some may remember his blocking skills on display during the Under Armour All-American Game earlier this year. For those that don’t, enjoy.

Pittman may still be considered a slash-type player with the ability to see time on both sides of the ball, but the closer he inches toward a spot with the first-team offense, the closer we are to seeing him secure one position. Will Muschamp and the rest of the staff may not have much of a choice with his future, but in this particular situation, that’s perfectly fine.

Recruit Report: Latroy Pittman, WR, North Marion

Another recruit report is up at Alligator Army. This time I focus on North Marion (Citra, FL) wide receiver Latroy Pittman.

Pittman is a receiver with good size that plays like he has great size. He plays the game much larger than his 6’1″, 190-pound frame and has fashioned himself into somewhat of a power receiver. With solid speed added to the mix, Pittman uses his strength to fight for the ball when going up against defensive backs. Whether he can bring that with him to the next level remains to be seen, but he’s off to a head start.
Pittman will be a fight for Florida to hold on to. His feelings toward the Gators haven’t wavered and he remains committed, but Miami is pushing hard. So hard that Pittman has spoken about the Hurricanes and what he likes about the program in the past. He has also said he plans to take all of his visits. Keep an eye on what looks like another one that could come right down to national signing day.