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June 26, 2014

20/14 of 2014: Will Holley be ready to help out


20/14 OF 2014 COUNTDOWN: I | II | III

With the 2014 off-season quickly dwindling away, Inside the Gators will count down the 20 veterans and 14 youngsters most critical to Florida's success during the 2014 season. Players are ranked in terms of their importance in the Gators' upcoming season, not pure talent, and ordered into two categories - established returning players and players who are no further along their sophomore seasons and haven't really contributed as of yet.

This 10-part series will give you an idea of who Florida simply can't live without come August.


No. 14
Position: Right tackle
Class: Redshirt Senior
Size: 6-foot-5, 300 pounds
Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Catholic
2013 season: Missed entire season with a torn labrum
  • Why he makes the list: When Will Muschamp starts digging for reasons behind 2013's ineptitude, it's often not long before the early loss of Green comes up. Losing a veteran starting right tackle before its first game threw Florida's offensive line into a tailspin that would only worsen through the year. The same possibilities are at stake this fall. Green is planning for a big year and an exit from college football without appealing for an extra year of eligibility. But with depth concerns remaining, Florida can't afford to not have him every week.
  • Question to be answered: How durable is he and which Green will the Gators be getting? Green has missed 18 games to injury over the past three seasons. Even during a 2011 season in which he made the SEC All-Freshman Team, Green missed four games with injuries. That's not generally what teams like to see out of offensive linemen. When he is on the field and healthy, Green has an elite ceiling. When he is less than 100 percent, as he has often been, the results haven't been aesthetically pleasing.
  • Best case scenario: Green remains healthy for an entire season for the first time as a Gator and anchors the right side of the offensive line alongside newly-minted guard Trenton Brown. That's a big-time guard-tackle duo to the right of center Max Garcia if it stays intact.
  • Best guess: It's difficult to realistically expect Green to make it through a full season healthy. Not only have injury issues plagued him, but problems with dehydration have often forced him to take off drills in practices and series in games. At this point, we have seen the troubles that have come along with Green from a health standpoint. It's disappointing, because he's the type of player who could be a truly special offensive tackle.


No. 13
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Size: 6-foot-4, 202 pounds
Jacksonville (Fla.) Bishop Kenny
2013 season: 17 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown
  • Why he makes the list: Few players made more out of the fallout of a terrible season than Fulwood. Once the Gators fell on hard times, Fulwood saw his on-field opportunities increase. He caught 16 of his 17 passes in Florida's last seven games and his only touchdown in the infamous loss to Vanderbilt. Now, he will be looked to as second in line at wide receiver as he lines up opposite Quinton Dunbar outside. He needs to continue his 2013 momentum in order to stay on the field ahead of Demarcus Robinson.
  • Question to be answered: Does he pack enough special ability to become a top-tier wide receiver in the SEC? There's plenty to like about Fulwood. He's tall, he seems to have reliable hands and he has a squeaky clean image off the field that carries into a dedicated work ethic on the field. But he's not exactly the kind of explosive playmaker in space you'd like to see utilized in Kurt Roper's offense. Whether or not that will hamper his production remains to be seen.
  • Best case scenario: Fulwood becomes a bigger and better version of Quinton Dunbar. His length and ball instincts give Jeff Driskel a reliable target in the red zone, something he has not had since Jordan Reed left for the NFL. There's no reason why Fulwood shouldn't be a 50-catch, 600-yard type of player in his second year.
  • Best guess: This should be a strong year for Fulwood. He is as polished as any of Florida's receivers and his reliability will trump any concerns that he is not a big-play guy. The Gators need function before they worry about flash, and Fulwood provides that while also opening up coverage opportunities for other receivers.



No. 8
Position: Linebacker
Class: Sophomore
Size: 6-foot-1, 225 pounds
Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast
2013 season: Two tackles
  • Why he makes the list: Failure to learn the playbook kept McMillian off the field aside from special teams in 2013, even when injuries but depth so deep that walk-ons saw meaningful time. That can't happen again, and McMillian has taken strides to make sure it doesn't. He was one of Florida's most improved players during spring camp and could be a factor inside or outside at linebacker.
  • Question to be answered: Can he avoid mental lapses in game action? Step one was grasping the playbook and showing enough understanding in practice to win over the coaching staff. Step two - the critical step it is - will be applying that knowledge to fall Saturdays when fans are screaming and TV cameras are rolling and the action is faster than Tuesday drills.
  • Best case scenario: Anyone who watched McMillian in high school knows just how good he can be. He has all the physical traits necessary to take over a game and it's certainly still too early jump to the conclusion that he won't be able to one day do that at this level. Doing it as a sophomore is probably a bit of a stretch, but McMillian will push Florida's top three linebackers for snaps and fit into the rotation if he carries his spring transformation into fall.
  • Best guess: He'll be No. 4 in line at inside linebacker with opportunities to move up based on how he fares when he is rotated in to give the starters a breather. A fourth linebacker still gets plenty of playing time in Florida's system because of Muschamp's love for rotations.


No. 7
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: True Freshman
Size: 6-foot-4, 299 pounds
Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln
2013 season: Rivals100 member who was named to the US Army All-American Bowl East squad
  • Why he makes the list: One of the most intriguing position battles during fall camp will be determining who the Gators can trust as rotational defensive tackles. Coaches are confident with what they have in starters Darious Cummings and Leon Orr, but rotating both is critical and that means there have to be more capable bodies in the mix. Given the spring disappointment of a trio of redshirt freshmen, Holley will be well in the mix.
  • Question to be answered: Is he ready? Any time you're discussing the possibility of a freshman contributing as an interior lineman in the SEC, this is a question that needs to be asked. Holley is an elite prospect - No. 56 overall in the 2014 cycle - but asking him to be a factor in his first year is a tall task fit only in the past for big names Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd.
  • Best case scenario: Holley takes full advantage of the summer strength program, comes into fall camp ready to make a splash and earns a spot in the defensive tackle rotation. Florida isn't looking for anything flashy out of him, simply a reliable inside body who can stand his ground when called upon to assure Cummings and Orr are fresh late in games.
  • Best guess: Earning playing time will not be easy, though Holley will certainly be given a chance. Second-year players will have a chance to redeem themselves while Holley works with a fresh start.


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