With the start of fall practice only a couple months away, Inside the Gators is counting down 20 returning players and 11 newcomers (true and redshirt freshmen) who we expect to have the biggest impact on the 2011 Florida football season.
Inside the Gators will count down two returning players and one redshirt or true freshman in each part of this 10-part series, finishing with those players we expect to have the biggest impact for Florida in the 2011 season.
TOP 20/11 FOR 2011
TOP 20 MOST IMPORTANT RETURNING PLAYERS
Position: Offensive Tackle
Class: Redshirt Junior
Size: 6-6, 292
2010 season: Dressed for four games, but missed the entire season due to injury
Why he makes the list: When healthy, Patchan is arguably the most talented offensive lineman on Florida's roster. Assuming he can stay healthy this season, he'll be counted on to provide a veteran presence for a young unit.
Questions to be answered: Can he stay healthy? That's been the question for Patchan his entire career. He's had bad luck with injuries from Day 1. At this point, it might be a fair question to ask even if he is healthy, will he be the same player?
Best case scenario: Patchan is at full strength by the time the season opens and shows no signs of being slowed by any nagging injuries or the rust of missing an entire season. He beats out Chaz Green easily for the right tackle job and becomes UF's best offensive lineman, performing at an All-SEC level.
Best guess: Patchan will beat out Green assuming he is healthy, but that's a pretty big assumption to make with Patchan. It's hard to make a best guess with a player like Patchan, but he should be a highly productive player for Florida this season, even if he does miss a little time here or there with injuries.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Class: Redshirt Senior
Size: 6-3, 302
2010 season: Eight starts, 29 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks
Why he makes the list: It wouldn't be a stretch to say Howard was UF's best defensive lineman a year ago. He continually disrupts plays in the backfield and has shown the versatility to play inside and outside over his career.
Questions to be answered: What will Howard's role be on a crowded defensive line? With his talent and versatility, it's hard to imagine he won't see a significant amount of playing time and be a productive player. How will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn use the senior?
Best case scenario: Howard settles into a bit of a do-everything role for the Gators, sliding from tackle to end with ease. He raises his sack total from three to near double-digits in 2011, becoming the leader of the young defensive line.
Best guess: Howard is primed to have a productive final year in Orange and Blue. He's a perfect kind of player for Quinn, who will install a defense front that will make it tough for opponents to identify different looks. Howard can be used as an effective tackle or end, which bodes well for his playing time this season.
TOP 11 MOST IMPORTANT NEWCOMERS (Redshirt & True Freshmen)
Position: Defensive Tackle
Class: Redshirt Freshman
Size: 6-5, 315
New Port Richey (Fla.)
2010 season: Redshirted
Why he makes the list: Orr came to Florida as a four-star defensive tackle prospect before being moved to offensive line as a true freshman last season. He has since moved back to the defensive line, where new head coach Will Muschamp has labeled him as one of the guys he'll be counting on at the defensive tackle position.
Questions to be answered: What is Orr capable of? He's a complete mystery at this point as far as how productive he can be as a college football player. He has tremendous size and above average athleticism considering that size. He could be a valuable tool in 3-4 fronts, clogging the middle with his big frame.
Best case scenario: Orr emerges as a physical presence during fall camp and becomes entrenched in a very deep and talented defensive line rotation. By the end of the season, he is pushing for starter's time and well positioned for his sophomore season.
Best guess: Unfortunately for Orr, defensive tackle is the deepest position on the team right now. If Sharrif Floyd and Jaye Howard spend some time at the end position, it will help Orr earn more playing time in a rotation along with Omar Hunter and Dominique Easley. Orr still has bright future ahead of him at Florida, but the reality is, this probably isn't his year to be much more than a guy who can provide some fresh legs for a few snaps a game off the bench.