What you need to know ...
It's year two of the Urban Meyer offense and the pieces still
aren't quite in place after an uneven 2005. Quarterback Chris Leak
showed more mobility this spring and should be an even sharper
passer, but super-recruit Tim Tebow will see meaningful action
and could take over if he lives up to the hype. The receiving
corps has the potential to be great as long as Andre Caldwell
returns healthy from a broken leg and Dallas Baker steps up as
the number one target. There's talent in the backfield, but no
one appears able to fit into the scheme. The big issue is on the
offensive line with only one starter returning from a group that
struggled last season.
Passing: Chris Leak
235-374, 2,639 yds, 20 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: DeShawn Wynn
130 carries, 621 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Dallas Baker
52 catches, 697 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Chris Leak
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OTs
Phil Trautwein and Drew Miller
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Cornelius Ingram
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Dallas Baker
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Leak, 2) Baker, 3) WR
Strength of the offense: Receiver, quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line
How fast is too fast for the future to arrive? Chris Leak
is the unquestionable starter for now, but Tim Tebow appears to
be the chosen one to make the Urban Meyer offense sing. Watch
for Leak to run the offense with Tebow getting work here and
there, but all bets are off if Leak struggles at any time.
However, Florida is expected to win the SEC title this season;
that will be hard to do with a true freshman. With Gavin Dickey
giving up football to play baseball full-time, the backup
situation is Tebow, and Tebow.
The key to the unit: The tension of the quarterback
situation needs to be eased. Can the Gators afford to take the
lumps that go with a true freshman season to play Tim Tebow
early on? Will Chris Leak be looking over his shoulder? This
will be a soap opera all year long.
Quarterback Rating: 9
- Chris Leak, Sr. - 235-374, 2,639 yds, 60.7%, 20 TD, 6
INT, 105 carries, 81 yds, 6 TD
Only at Florida can a legitimate Heisman candidate be this
close to losing his job. Leak will try to finish off his
career as more than just a transitional player between the Steve
Spurrier era and the hopeful return to national title prominence under Urban
Meyer. While he isn't the type of quarterback who fits the
spread offense style, he's hardly immobile and makes up for his
average running skills with good decision making ability and a
career completion percentage of 61%.
Expect him to make more plays outside of the pocket more
He has a nice arm, but not
an elite one, and his 6-0, 210-pound size makes him a marginal
NFL prospect. His overall umbers dropped last year after
throwing for 3,197 yards in 2004, but that's not a big deal
since he became more efficient and cut his interception total in
half. Now he has to keep producing to hold off the
star-in-waiting, Tim Tebow.
- Tim Tebow, Fr.
Tebow will represent the ultimate experiment for the spread
offense. Considered to be a near-perfect quarterback to run Urban
Meyer's offense, the NFL prospect has 6-3, 229-pound size and
the mobility to have rushed for 3,169 yards and 63 touchdowns in
high school. There's no sitting on him to redshirt; the coaching
staff has already said the hot-shot star is going to play this
year. He completed 15 of 21 passes in the spring
The talent is there, but no one is able to produce on a
consistent basis. Urban Meyer has gone as far as to suggest the
offense might not use a tailback if this group plays like it did
last season, but that's not going to happen after an improved
overall work ethic. Kestahn Moore has to stay healthy and prove
he can be a 15-20 carry back, DeShawn Wynn has to live up to his
talent, and Markus Manson has to run with more power. Expect
this to be tailback-by-committee again until someone emerges.
The key to the unit: A number one runner needs to rise
up from the pack and take the job by the horns. At the very
least, a reliable back has to emerge.
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Kestahn Moore, Soph. - 48 carries, 277 yds, 5.8 ypc, 1
TD, 13 catches, 56 yds, 4.3 ypc, 1 TD
In a perfect world, Moore is the starting back and lasts the
season. He has the hands to be used as a receiver finishing
fourth on the team in catches, and he has a decent combination
of quickness and power as a runner. What he wasn't able to do
was produce enough on the ground after starting the first three
games. Injury issues were a problem this off-season as he missed most of spring ball with a bulging
- Fullback Billy Latsko, Sr. - 1 carry, 5 yds, 5 catches, 43 yds,
The former walk-on has grown into the vocal leader of the
backfield while showing decent blocking ability. He's 5-10 and
231 pounds and has seen a little time as a linebacker as well as
at H-Back. Expect him to do a little of everything again.
- DeShawn Wynn, Sr. - 130 carries, 621 yds, 4.8 ypc,
7 TD, 12 catches, 161 yds, 13.4 ypc, 2 TD
The most talented of the Gator backs can't seem to find his
groove with the new coaching staff. Wynn spent most of last year
trying to get out of Urban Meyer's doghouse and then finished as
the team's leading rusher. He was able to tear off 109 yards
against Georgia, and then ran four times for 20 yards the
following week against Vanderbilt. If the light goes on, he has
the all-around ability to be an All-SEC performer.
- Markus Manson, Soph. - 81 carries, 365 yds, 4.5 ypc, 2 TD, 9
catches, 55 yds, 6.1 ypc
Manson has the next-level speed and good size at 6-0 and 210
pounds to grow into a star. Now he has to prove he can stay
healthy after missing much of last year with a concussion and he
has to run stronger between the tackles. He became the team's
top back late last year only to finish up with four carries
- Chevon Walker, Fr.
Walker ran for 2,027 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior at
Riverdale High School in Fort Myers. He was one of the team's
top recruits who came to school early to play in spring ball,
and will see playing time this year based on how well he can pick
up the offense and how quickly he can become a receiver.
- Fullback Eric Rutledge, Jr.
Mostly a special teamer and linebacker last year, the 243-pound
Rutledge brings more size to the backfield. he could end up
being used as an H-Back.
This will be a strength of the offense even
with the loss of leading receiver Chad Jackson to the NFL.
Dallas Baker has next-level skills and should shine as the
number one target. Andre Caldwell adds a big boost coming back
from a broken leg suffered early last year, and Jemalle
Cornelius has the speed to push defenses deep. Other targets
need to emerge after being too dependent on Jackson and Baker
last season, so Kenneth Tookes, Louis Murphy and Nyan Boateng
have to be productive. Tight ends Tate Casey and Cornelius
Ingram are too good not to get the ball their way.
The key to the unit: More big plays. There's too much
speed and talent not to bust off more than the 11.3 yards per
catch of last year.
Receiver Rating: 8.5
- Dallas Baker, Sr. - 52 catches, 897 yds, 13.4 ypc, 5 TD
Baker has carved out a nice career with 91 grabs for 1,316 yards
and 11 touchdowns playing mostly as a key number two target. He
finished second on the team in receiving last year and exploded
over a two-game stretch catching 13 passes for 242 yards and a
touchdown against Alabama and Mississippi State, and now he'll
be expected to fill the void left by Chad Jackson. He dominated
when he got on the field this spring showing that he's ready for
an All-SEC caliber season.
- Jemalle Cornelius, Sr. - 29 catches, 383 yds, 13.2
ypc, 1 TD
The athleticism and speed have always been there, now Cornelius
has to blow up in his senior year after starting nine games last
season and finishing third on the team in receiving. He had to
fight through a slew of injuries and struggled over the second
half of the season, but he showed a little bit of what he could
do with an eight-catch, 138-yard day against Kentucky.
- Andre Caldwell, Sr. - 10 catches, 148 yds, 14.8 ypc
One of the team's most dangerous receivers, the 6-1, 200-pound
Caldwell started out well before breaking his leg on a kickoff
return against Tennessee. He's a big-time deep threat and great
kick returner. Now he'll start out behind Dallas Baker until he
gets back to 100% and then should take over a third receiver
- Tight end Tate Casey, Jr. - 10 catches, 121 yds, 12.1
ypc, 1 TD
Is this the year Casey lives up to his vast potential? He has
next level skills with good speed and great hands in a 6-6,
242-pound frame, but he hasn't turned into a consistent weapon.
He has the size to be a good blocker and should be featured more
and more as a receiver.
- Kenneth Tookes, Sr. - 7 catches, 54 yds, 7.7 ypc
While not a special receiver like most of the others in the
corps, the 6-2 Tookes has good size and enough experience to
grow into a dependable third receiver. With Andre Caldwell
returning, Tookes will have to battle to get into the mix after
earning the starting job coming out of spring ball.
- Tight end Cornelius Ingram, Soph.
The former backup quarterback looked like a major NFL prospect
in spring ball. He's 6-4, 235 pounds, fast, and now he knows
what he's doing. When he has everything working, he's next to
uncoverable. His blocking might not be anything special, but
that won't matter if he's making big plays with his hands. Now
he has to prove he can be great in game action.
- Louis Murphy, Soph.
The 6-3 sophomore spent most of last year on special
teams and now will look to bring his athleticism to the third
wideout spot battling Kenneth Tookes.
If Florida doesn't win the SEC title, the O line might be
the problem. Four starters need to be replaced and the only one
returning, Steve Rissler, is the only senior. There's a little
bit of experience, but it's going to take a while for everything
to jell in the complicated offensive scheme. The ground game
wasn't great last year with a strong front wall, and this group
isn't going to blow anyone off the ball. Pass protection needs
to be improved after allowing 35 sacks.
The key to the unit: Jell very, very
quickly. The tackles have to be merely adequate while the
interior has to be far better for the ground game.
Offensive Line Rating:
- OT Carlton Medder, Jr.
Purely a special teamer
so far, the 315-pound junior brings more size to left tackle
than Phil Trautwein. Talent isn't an issue with good athleticism
and strength; now he has to produce.
- OG Jim Tartt, Soph.
Tartt hurt his shoulder last off-season and was never quite
right finishing with only two starts before undergoing surgery
and missing the rest of the year. He's 6-3 and 310 pounds with
the potential to be one of the team's best new starting
Steve Rissler, Sr.
Part guard and part center over
his career, the 6-3, 310-pound senior will move over from right
guard to take over for all-star Mike Degory inside. He started
the final seven games of last season and should be more than
capable of handling himself in his new role.
- OG Ronnie
One of the top guard prospects in the
nation last season, the 6-4, 310-pound Wilson will be expected
to grow into the job on the right side. Talent isn't an issue,
but experience will be.
- OT Drew Miller, Jr.
Miller will move from guard to tackle to replace Lance Butler.
He started the first four games last year on the right side and
became a steady reserve. He got stronger this off-season and
earned praise from the coaching staff for his work ethic. Pass
protection will be his focus early on until he gets used to the
- OT Phil
He has plenty of experience, but mostly
on special teams and, technically, as a tight end. He's an
athletic 6-6 and 309 pounds and in the battle to take over at left tackle for solid
starter Randy Hand.
- OT Jason Watkins, Soph.
A special teamer so far, the
6-6, 310-pound sophomore has a ton of upside and will quickly
find his way into the rotation behind Drew Miller on the right
side. He'll have to prove he can be part of the future early on
with several good young prospects waiting in the wings.
Simon Codrington, RFr.
Codrington filled out his 6-7
frame getting up to 310 pounds. Now he appears ready to be a
factor on the right side pushing Ronnie Wilson. He could play
tackle if needed.