Florida Gators Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season
The Florida Gators are just one of many teams that have benefited greatly off of true freshmen making an impact right away. Last season, Vernon Hargreaves and Kelvin Taylor made a splash as starters. The year before that, Dante Fowler and Matt Jones picked up a few starts and helped the Gators win games.
You can only expect the same thing to take place this season with another solid recruiting class stepping on campus. Florida has two defensive backs and a handful of offensive players who are sure to see the field early and often.
Here are a few Florida freshmen who have a good chance to start at least one game this season.
Treon Harris, QB
You have to believe there will be some sort of offensive package installed for Treon Harris this season. He’s simply too talented to redshirt given his playmaking ability and Florida’s need for speed and big plays. Whether it’s the Wildcat formation or Harris given 10 plays as a traditional quarterback to make things happen, he’s going to have chances to make a splash as a true freshman.
The reason he may start a game at some point in the year is the wild inconsistency at the quarterback position. Jeff Driskel has given Florida fans more nightmares than they would like, and Skyler Mornhinweg hasn’t shown anything that would make you believe he’s a reliable backup quarterback.
Harris at least has the skill set that gives him a fighting chance if he needs to step in as a starter in the middle of the season. Like Johnny Manziel, sometimes it’s best to shy away from the playbook and let the kid do what he’s done all his life. His backyard-style of play would give him the upper hand if the coaching staff is forced to make a drastic decision.
This is certainly no guarantee, but with the way this position has been the past few seasons, it’s always best to expect the unexpected.
David Sharpe, OT
Florida’s offensive line is paper thin, and there’s bound to be many players who are forced to step in and possibly even start. Injuries happen, inconsistent play takes place and inexperienced players get their number called when they least expect it.
David Sharpe is somebody who will see playing time if any of the above takes place. Sharpe is ready to contribute whenever the coaching staff needs him, as he has his collegiate body at 6’6”, 318 pounds. To go with that size, Sharpe has quick feet and athleticism. He isn’t the most polished player and can sometimes fall asleep on certain assignments, but he has tremendous upside and could learn on the fly if needed.
Chaz Green and D.J. Humphries have shown to be injury prone. While the lack of experience is concerning, Sharpe is somebody who could step in right away and hold his own against pretty much anybody.
C.J. Worton, WR
Ask 10 Florida fans who the starting wide receivers are going to be this season, and you’ll end up with at least five different combinations. That’s because nobody has separated themselves from the pack, and just about anybody can make their way into the rotation. Honestly, I see a wide-receiver-by-committee approach going on this season. Whoever has the hot hand at the moment will be the starter heading into the next week.
That’s why I give C.J. Worton a chance to pick up a couple of starts under his belt this season. Not exactly the most athletic or physically imposing player on the roster, Worton does do the two things that every receiver needs to do well: run routes and catch. Worton has terrific hands and always seems to be open due to running the route exactly how it’s supposed to be run.
Yes, Florida needs big plays and speed, but it could also go for sure hands and a guy who can simply help the offense move the chains. Worton is one of the most underrated players in last year’s class, and he’ll be on the field probably a lot more than you expected.
Duke Dawson, CB
Duke Dawson is going to see considerable playing time this season in Florida’s defensive backfield, and it’s only a matter of time before he picks up a few starts. In fact, a source close to the team told Thomas Goldkamp of 247 Sports (subscription required) that Dawson would be a starting cornerback if the season started today.
Dawson lacks great size at 5’10”, but he makes up for it with his feisty style of play. He’s the type of corner who gets in your face and scraps for every inch of the field. He also has terrific ball skills, which make him an option at nickelback as well. Dawson has a little Tyrann Mathieu to his game with the way he fights for everything and always seems to be around the football.
Although talented, Florida’s secondary isn’t very deep, and it won’t be long before Dawson is starting somewhere.
Jalen Tabor, CB
Jalen Tabor has been the favorite to start alongside Hargreaves for quite some time. It would actually be a major shocker if he isn’t part of the starting secondary by the time August rolls around.
Tabor has everything you look for in a starting cornerback. He’s long at 6’1”, doesn’t mind helping out in run support and has a tremendous football IQ. Tabor reads plays quickly and puts himself in the best position possible to sniff things out. His size, instincts and athleticism make him a nightmare cover for opposing wide receivers.
It’s no secret that Tabor is going to see the field probably more than any other freshman this season for the Gators. And you can bet that he’ll be starting most of the games this season as well.