After weeks of speculation, we finally have a depth chart to analyze days before UF's season opener against Idaho on Saturday. Following Florida coach Will Muschamp's press conference Tuesday, the Gators released their first unofficial depth chart of the year. There were plenty of surprises on there, so here are the 10 biggest draws from observing it.
At least for now Treon Harris has supplanted Will Grier and Skyler Mornhinweg as Florida's backup quarterback behind Jeff Driskel. Harris has the strongest hold on the job because of what he can do in short-yardage situations with his legs as a dual-threat signal caller, according to the Gators. "That's something that certainly Treon's done before, but he's also a very accomplished passer," Muschamp said. "We've got a lot of confidence in him as far as continuing to do a lot of similar things we're going to do with Jeff, as well as Will can do, and Skyler as well."
No decision has been made yet on a starting kicker. With only four days until the season opener, the Gators remain torn as to whether Austin Hardin or Francisco Velez will be their guy at the position. According to Muschamp, both performed well in camp after a rough 2013 campaign for the group. Both will likely receive opportunities this season as the Gators alternate kickers.
Clay Burton is listed as the starter at tight end with Virginia transfer Jake McGee as the No. 2. McGee is clearly a superior player to Burton, but Florida likely gave Burton the nod due to his experience with the offense from the spring - McGee wasn't around then, joining the team in June. While Burton will primarily serve as a blocker, McGee should certainly catch more passes this season and be a more productive player at the position.
Trip Thurman is the starter at right guard, with Tyler Moore backing up he and Trenton Brown on the right side in a three-guard rotation. This move is surprising, considering Thurman was limited for a good portion of camp with a shoulder injury. Moore looked improved in run protection during open practices and has made strides since last season lining up at his more natural position of guard, rather than outside at tackle, making it surprising that Thurman received the nod over him.
Cornerback Brian Poole will start on the outside opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. Entering training camp, there was a possibility a freshman would start on the outside. Apparently, the coaching staff doesn't feel comfortable with that proposition just yet. The Gators will move Poole, a natural nickel, to that spot as a starter and hope the transition goes smoothly.
There is no clear-cut starter at punter just yet. Kyle Christy had the edge on Johnny Townsend during open practices, receiving the first attempts at punts, but the depth chart reads "Kyle Christy or Johnny Townsend." This will be a competitive battle between two capable talents. It is one Florida should feel more comfortable about than kicker, without a doubt.
Jalen Tabor sits behind Hargreaves III, while the other backup spot behind Poole reads as "J.C. Jackson or Quincy Wilson." Still in the learning stages, all three freshmen cornerbacks will get a fair shot at playing time this season.
We saw inconsistency from the bunch during fall camp, but the trio has potential. For now, they'll contribute as VH3 and Poole see starters' snaps.
Duke Dawson is a definite second-teamer at safety, while the other safety spot is listed as "Nick Washington or Marcell Harris." Washington and Harris saw the majority of second-team snaps when Dawson was limited in practice with a shoulder injury. Now with him back in the mix, the Gators will likely rotate those three behind Keanu Neal and Jabari Gorman. Right now, the versatile Dawson, Washington and Harris look to have an advantage over Maye at the safety spot.
Andre Debose is the first option at both kick returner and punt returner. Returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him in 2013, the redshirt senior will have a great responsibility this season in UF's special teams, which lacked a punch in 2013. Behind him at kick returner are Quinton Dunbar and Chris Thompson on the chart. Muschamp also mentioned Valdez Showers and Brandon Powell as players capable of returning kicks, so don't read into it too much. At punt returner it reads "Debose or Demarcus Robinson or Hargreaves." Regardless, Muschamp called him the No. 1 option there.
Driskel is listed as the first-team holder, not Kyle Crofoot. Florida's starting quarterback joked about this during his time with reporters Tuesday. "I'd like to classify myself as a versatile player," he said. "I think it's an opportunity to give the field goal block team some issues. You have to give them more things to think about during the week. I'll do whatever I'm asked to do. … Kyle Crofoot, our holder, doesn't like to think it's that easy. That's basically what it is. Catch the ball and put it on the ground."
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