One of the most important springs of the Urban Meyer era will be here before you know it. With the Gators set to return to the practice fields in roughly three weeks, it's
time to whet the appetite with some spring previews.
In this series, we count down the top 10 players to keep an eye on over the course of the upcoming 15 spring practice sessions. Don't go looking for guys like cornerback Janoris Jenkins or linebacker A.J. Jones on this list - they're proven commodities and everyone knows what they bring to the table. Instead, we focus on a
combination of 10 veterans and newcomers that have the most to prove.
Coming in at No. 10, the InsidetheGators.net staff wonders aloud whether or not James Wilson can win the starting right guard spot.
Position: Offensive Guard
Class: Redshirt junior
Size: 6-5, 329
St. Augustine (Fla.) Nease
2009 season: Played in 14 games - 4 starts
Why he makes the list: When the Gator coaching staff decided to move Mike Pouncey to center to take over for his departed brother - Maurice - it left a glaring hole at right guard.
There are several candidates to fill that job this spring - including Wilson, Maurice Hurt and Jon Halapio.
As for Wilson, though he has played in 24 games over the first three years of his Gator career, it still feels like he he doesn't bring a whole lot of experience to the table and that he has a long way to go in order to live up to the five-star status awarded him coming out of high school.
Questions to be answered: Two years ago, unhappy with his situation on the team and coming off of a red shirt season, Wilson was on the verge of transferring to Wake Forrest. At that time, because he was sidelined by injury his first year with the Gators, he said he didn't feel as though he was part of the team.
He of course stuck it out and eventually played in 10 games during the 2008 season before suiting up for all 14 contest (including four starts) in 2009. After starting the first two games of the season he began to see his playing time diminish as the season progressed, before then returning to the starting lineup against Arkansas.
While offensive lineman are to be given a little more time before a whole lot is expected of them, the truth is, he is entering his junior season with not exactly a glowing resume to show for his time in the Orange & Blue.
Yes, most of his troubles can be laid at the feet of the injury bug - which has bitten him time and again. However, that being said, Florida signed five very talented linemen in the class of 2009 - and if they continue to progress - especially Halipio - Wilson could be in jeopardy of losing his spot to an up-and-coming player - making it harder to find his way out onto the field.
The question is, can he remain healthy?
Best case scenario: It goes without saying that the best case scenario would be that Wilson is able to remain healthy enough to hold down the starting right guard spot.
Of the players up for the job, he is clearly the most complete package.
Coaches and fellow players alike have never had anything but good to great things to say about Wilson's talent level and potential. However, there seemed to be a sense early on that perhaps he didn't fully understand the dedication level it takes to be successful at a big-time college such as Florida.
Best guess: Things might not have gone completely according to plan to this point in his career, but this looks to be Wilson's time to shine.
Though there are a couple of candidates for the job, if they are healthy, it should come down to Wilson and Hurt for the starting position with Wilson having the upper hand.