Florida Football: 5 Gators Who Could Surprise People This Spring
Florida Gators spring football is finally here. That means no more talk of who is going to step up and how this season is going to wipe away the memory of last year.
It’s time for guys to prove it.
Before the Gators take the field for the first time and all attention turns to the critical positions, such as quarterback, which players should we keep an eye on? The following players may not be household names at this stage, but they are capable of turning heads and could find themselves on the two-deep depth chart if things go well.
Isn’t that what spring practice is all about?
Alex McCalister, LB
Alex McCalister is now entering his third season. It’s about time he takes that next step.
McCalister redshirted in 2012 because he was lucky to weigh 200 pounds when soaking wet. He played in seven games last year, but much of those minutes were spent as a backup defensive end or on special teams.
This is finally McCalister’s chance to shine.
Florida enters spring ball with nine injured players. Three of those guys play linebacker. That opens the door for McCalister to make an impression. His size and length is out of this world. He probably could be helping the Gators basketball team win a national championship right now. He’s a freakish athlete who gets off the line quickly and is able to use his long arms to break free from offensive linemen.
The sky is the limit for somebody with McCalister’s skill set. It now just comes down to him impressing the coaching staff enough to solidify his playing time.
With two years in the system, don’t be surprised if this is the season.
Marcell Harris, S
If you’ve never seen Marcell Harris play football, just watch the first two plays in the video above.
Granted, those jaw-dropping hits would probably lead to an ejection under NCAA rules, but it’s a good example of what type of player Harris is capable of being.
A highly recruited player last season, he was forced to redshirt due to knee surgery. However, due to the lack of depth Florida has at the safety position, he’ll have a chance to see considerable playing time this season in the defensive backfield.
If you couldn’t tell by the video, Harris is a big dude at 6’2” and 220 pounds. He loves dropping the hammer on the ball-carrier. If safety doesn’t work out, he has a shot to play linebacker. Harris has great instincts and does a nice job of closing in on the football.
Florida needs an enforcer to set the tone in the secondary similar to how Matt Elam did a couple of years ago. Harris has the potential to be that guy.
Alvin Bailey, WR
It doesn’t take a football guru to know the Gators are in search of offensive playmakers.
So meet Alvin Bailey.
The redshirt freshman receiver has the quickness to become a game-changer within Kurt Roper’s offense. He isn’t the biggest receiver at 5’11”, but the slot receiver position is currently vacant, and somebody like Bailey could certainly fill it.
Give him a couple of feet of room and let him work his magic, and big plays are going to happen.
Bailey took a season off last year. He was still very raw at wide receiver, having spent most of his high school days playing quarterback. Even so, he is quick off the line of scrimmage and is elusive in the open field—two traits that Roper can work with.
Florida needs to find answers on the offensive side of the ball quickly. The young receiver from Seffner, Florida may be one of them.
Caleb Brantley, DT
With Darious Cummings and Leon Orr likely to lock up the defensive and nose tackle positions, Florida has a lot of potential on the inside of the defensive line. There’s also a lot of youth behind them expected to make an impact.
Caleb Brantley is one of those guys who the coaching staff will be counting on, especially with Orr sitting out this spring with an injury. Brantley redshirted last season and will enter camp in much better shape than he was leaving high school.
He also received the approval of former Gator Dominique Easley, per Nick De La Torre of Gator Country:
"He [Brantley] just has to buy in, he bought in and he’s good now.”
The former 4-star recruit is a massive defensive lineman at 6’3”, 315 pounds and is an absolute force in stopping the run. He plays with a high motor and is capable of eating double-teams for breakfast.
Don’t be surprised if he earns his way onto the field in the defensive tackle rotation.
Adam Lane, RB
I wrote a more in-depth article on Adam Lane earlier this month, as he has the potential to carve out a role in Florida’s backfield this season.
Lane is an absolute tank and would bring that physicality and toughness that the Gators lacked last season. Just watch the video above and try not to fall in love with the kid.
According to the clip, he gets in trouble with his mother for working out too much. A redshirt freshman with this kind of work ethic isn't necessarily common. A coaching staff could never have enough players with that attitude and determination.
With Matt Jones expected to miss spring ball with an injury and question marks behind Kelvin Taylor, Lane has a real opportunity to earn touches and become the physical back used late in games to wear down the opposition.
It’s time to start acknowledging this sleeping giant.