When you look back at all the great wide receivers Florida has put on the field dating back to the start of the 1990s, it is shocking to see how little talent the Gators have at wide receiver this spring — and it’s not going to change in the fall.
In breaking down the wide receivers for the media the other night, new offensive coordinator Brent Pease mentioned only four — and that really catches your attention. He said he was probably leaving somebody out (he was), but the reality is the guys he did not mention likely will be little or no factor in the passing game in 2012.
The overall lack of proven playmaking ability at wide receiver is downright scary. Pease is hoping to generate a consistent passing game that produces some explosive plays. But the burning question is: Who is going to make those plays?
The bottom line is the Gators lack elite, impact players at wide receiver. There are two guys who have a chance to become playmakers, but both have a long way to go to gain that status.
The Gators lack numbers and talent at wide receiver.
Here’s a look at the wide receivers Pease mentioned the other night:
* Andre Debose, Jr. — He was the go-to guy last season, yet he caught only 16 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a tough guy to figure out. He’s obviously a gifted athlete with great hands and speed. But he’s been plagued by injuries and an overall lack of consistency. One game he looks like an elite receiver, the next he disappears. He’s once again battling injuries and has not done much so far this spring, according to Pease.
* Quinton Dunbar, So. — He was the talk of preseason camp last summer, then he flopped in the fall. The way the coaches were talking about him in two-a-days, the expectation for Dunbar was that he would be a consistent playmaker and the Gators’ biggest home run threat. But once the season started, he was basically a non-factor, catching only 14 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Pease said Dunbar has shown great improvement already this spring and with a year of experience he could be ready to take off. There’s no guarantee, though.
* Frankie Hammond, Sr. — The coaches love his work ethic and consistency, but there is nothing flashy about his game or the numbers he’s put up in his career. More of a possession receiver than a big-play threat, Hammond caught only 15 passes last season and has only 41 for 514 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
* Latroy Pittman, Fr. — The early enrollee is a very good athlete who has pretty good speed and hands. He’s very raw at the moment and has a great deal to learn before he’s ready to make plays in the SEC.
Here’s a look at the scholarship wide receivers Pease did not mention:
* Ja’Juan Story, RFr. — This former high school quarterback is still in the early stages of learning a new position, and he’s extremely raw. He has speed, size and impressive athletic ability, but like Pittman, he has a long, long way to go. He’s done little to distinguish himself so far this spring.
* Solomon Patton, Jr. — This undersized athlete has turned into an excellent special teams player, but he’s done almost nothing at wide receiver. His role likely will not change much in 2012. In his two seasons at UF, he’s caught only seven passes for 62 yards.
* Stephen Alli, Jr. — This little-known high school prospect was an Urban Meyer project that has not worked out. His size and speed have helped him do some things on special teams, but he’s been no factor at wide receiver. In two years, he’s caught three passes for 17 yards in mop-up duty.
Here’s one more who comes on board in the fall:
* Raphael Andrades, Fr. — This three-star prospect from Tallahassee Lincoln was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class after the Gators missed out on some WRs that were much higher on their board. He has some size (6-foot, 190 pounds) and some speed (4.5 in the 40), but like Alli, he’s going to be a little bit of a long-range project.
It’s a little bit scary when you look at what the Gators have (or don’t have) at wide receiver. Where are the plays going to come from in 2012?