Offense: Projecting the two-deep depth chart

Mar 11, 2022 | 0 comments


While a coaching staff may publically say that there is no depth chart and all jobs are open for competition, the truth is, when there is a returning coaching staff in place, they have preconceived notions about the players on the roster.

However, with an all-new coaching staff, the depth chart really does start over from scratch.

With that in mind, Inside the Gators' Cameron Parker shares his best guess of what he believes the two-deep will look like at the end of 14 spring practices and the Spring Orange & Blue Debut.

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QUARTERBACK
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Anthony Richardson

The anointed heir to the Gator quarterback throne, Richardson showed an exciting play-making ability as Emory Jones’ replacement in multiple games. However, multiple injuries kept him from becoming the full-time starter. He did have knee surgery to fix a meniscus tear, and all signs point to him being completely healthy by spring.

Jack Miller III

If Billy Napier was truly comfortable with the options in the quarterback room, he would not have brought in the Ohio State transfer. Miller III has almost zero in-game experience, but reports indicate his athleticism has impressed Napier and staff so far. He will push Richardson for the starting spot the most.

 

RUNNING BACK
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Demarkcus Bowman

The 2020 five-star has many Gator fans excited with his blazing speed, although he hasn’t been given the opportunity to show it. With Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis gone and Nay’Quan Wright’s injury status unknown, Bowman has a tremendous opportunity to become the next speedy back in Gainesville.

Montrell Johnson

One of three Louisiana transfers on the offensive side of the ball, Johnson comes to Florida after rushing for 838 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning himself the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year award. With a lack of experience in the room, Johnson brings in the most experience despite only playing for one season and will make an immediate impact.

 

TIGHT END
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Keon Zipperer

Florida was never able to replicate Kyle Pitts’ impact in 2021 to begin with, and now with Kemore Gamble transferring to UCF, the starting job at tight end is wide open. Zipperer has been mostly used as a blocking tight end, but with Napier’s preference to run two tight end sets, expect the veteran to start right away.

Nick Elksnis

Although a backup in this analysis, the backup tight end is essentially “tight end 1B” with Napier’s favoritism to two tight end sets. The No. 14 tight end in the class of 2021, Elksnis size (6-foot-6, 232-pounds) excites many as he can be a solid blocker and a reliable pass-catcher.

 

WIDE RECEIVER
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Xzavier Henderson

After being a reserve in 2020, the former four-star received much more playing time on the outside and was the team’s punt returner in 2021. However, he did not make much of an impact in either role. With those struggles, don’t be surprised if Henderson moves on from the returner spot and puts all his focus into being a receiver, which should help improve his production.

Ja’Markis Weston

Weston was stuck on the depth chart as a reserve in 2021. Dan Mullen did try to use him on the field as a kick returner, but a muffed kick that bounced out of bounds at the 1-yard line against Alabama ended that opportunity. He will have others such as Daejon Reynolds breathing down his neck for the backup spot, too, so he is in the biggest need of a strong spring performance in the group.

 

WIDE RECEIVER
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Justin Shorter

With Jacob Copeland transferring to Maryland, Shorter becomes the face of the receiving group. Shorter has the athleticism, height, and strong hands to make exciting catches (Arkansas in 2020 and FSU in 2021 come to mind) and was the most consistent blocker in the receiver room. He is coming off a scary injury against UCF that caused him to be stretchered off the field, but he should be ready by for spring.

Ja’Quavion Fraziers

The victim of a loaded depth chart, Fraziers’ experience, albeit limited, does give him an edge over the other reserves due to their lack of experience. However, once Caleb Douglas enrolls, expect a battle for the spot in fall camp.

 

SLOT WIDE RECEIVER
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Trent Whittemore

In the two seasons since redshirting, Whittemore has had a knack for flashy plays and athletic receptions. However, injuries have severely held him back from making any major impact. Should he stay healthy, he will be a solid weapon in the slot.

Marcus Burke

The former four-star played in limited action in 2021, but he showed off his blazing speed when his number was called. Although he only had two catches, his 61-yard reception against South Carolina showed his speed and gives Napier a potential deep threat off the bench.

 

LEFT TACKLE
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Richard Gouraige

With 29 starts over the last 3 seasons, Gouraige is the veteran Gator in the group and moved from guard to tackles before last season. With the consistency and experience he brings, it makes sense for Gouraige to keep his job as the left tackle.

Kamryn Waites

The Louisiana transfer is a project that Napier took on as Waites did not play football in high school, but instead was a basketball star. Standing at six feet eight inches and weighing 358-pounds, if Napier and Rob Sale can tap into his athleticism, he will be a solid wall on the outside.

 

LEFT GUARD
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Ethan White

White has often been labeled as the most talented Gator offensive lineman the last two seasons, but injuries have constantly held him back as he missed six starts in 2021 and only appeared in four games in 2020. Should he stay healthy, White and transfer O’Cyrus Torrence could be the best guard duo in the SEC.

Riley Simonds

Primarily a special teams contributor, Simonds will be White’s immediate backup in spring, but with freshmen Jalen Farmer and Christian Williams coming in as guards, expect Simonds to move down the chart after spring.

 

CENTER
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Kingsley Eguakun

In his first season as the starter, Eguakun was solid up front, but hardly anyone can forget his poor performance against Kentucky, but part of that was coaching and miscommunication with Jones. Since that game, Eguakun improved and will lead a group of veteran starters.

Jake Slaughter

The redshirt freshman only appeared in one game in 2021, but he was the unlisted third-string center behind Eguakun and Richie Leonard IV. With the expectation that Leonard focuses on guard, Slaughter will be the backup for now.

 

RIGHT GUARD
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O’Cyrus Torrence

The First Team All-Sun Belt guard was the prize of the transfer portal after choosing to leave Louisiana. He chose to follow his head coach and brings the most overall experience (35 starts in three years) to an already veteran group.

Richie Leonard IV

Leonard IV is a do-it-all guard as he was the backup guard and backup center last season, which puts him above both Simonds and Slaughter, although both are listed on this analysis. If any of the starting guards or Eguakun go down, expect Leonard IV to be the one to take their place.

 

RIGHT TACKLE
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Joshua Braun

After playing guard the last two seasons, if the goal is to get the five best linemen on the field, expect Braun to move back outside to tackle, which is where he played in high school while doubling as a tennis star. Quick feet and large size (six feet six inches and 357 pounds) give him a slight edge over Michael Tarquin, but the edge is very small to say the least.

Michael Tarquin

Tarquin will be in a tight battle with Braun for the right tackle spot. He has the slight edge over Braun in terms of tackle experience (played all 12 games in 2021 at tackle with 2 starts), but with Braun’s athleticism, expect Tarquin to be the backup, at least for now.

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