Updated: Dec 4, 2020
The Florida Gators' win over Georgia on Saturday marked the halfway point of the 2020 regular season. While the Gators still have everything left to play for this season, we're taking a look at what we know and what we still need to learn about the roster for the 2021 season. A few position groups are deep with returning talent. Some will have extensive turnover. It is important to note that due to Covid-19, the 2020 season will not count against a player’s eligibility clock, which may lead to some seniors returning. The running back position is one that looks to be very crowded heading into 2021. Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce, Nay'Quan Wright and Iverson Clement all have remaining eligibility. Two former five-star recruits in ex-Miami RB Lorenzo Lingard and ex-Clemson RB Demarkcus Bowman (enrolling in January 2021) will expect to see the field next season. With five RBs slated to be on the roster, we'll be waiting to see if there are any exits due to transfers or early NFL draft entries. This is not a position of concern for Florida coaches heading into the next recruiting period. At linebacker, the Gators will be returning nearly all of their production from 2020. Leading tackler Ventrell Miller and James Houston could return for their redshirt senior seasons but one or both could take a chance on the NFL. Mohamoud Diabate, Derek Wingo and Ty'Ron Hopper are highly-touted freshmen who have played sparingly this year, but will provide depth and athleticism at the position next year. 2021 will also see the much anticipated arrival of Diwun Black, a one time five-star OLB originally part of the 2019 recruiting class, who spent the past two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. Look for him to see the field early. Lots of eyes will be on the Florida secondary in the second half of the season to see which young DBs can cement themselves as starters for 2021. Kaiir Elam is already a starter. Jaydon Hill is expected to slot into the spot Marco Wilson will leave, but there are also several freshmen at that position such as Chester Kimbrough and Kamar Wilcoxson who have already seen playing time this year. Safeties Tre'Vez Johnson and Rashad Torrence, both who have looked good in limited action this season, look primed to take on a big role after the impending exits of senior safeties Brad Stewart, Shawn Davis and Donovan Stiner. The Gators will welcome five-star CB Jason Marshall and two four-star safeties in Corey Collier and Donovan McMillion as part of the 2021 recruiting class. For the second-straight season, the Gators will experience significant attrition at pass-catching positions. The Gators will most likely lose their top-three pass catchers in Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Kyle Pitts. Redshirt sophomore Jacob Copeland looks to lock up the WR1 spot heading into next season. Justin Shorter and Xzavier Henderson likely round out the top 3 for next year. The Gators currently have three four-star wide receivers as part of the 2021 recruiting class in Trevonte Rucker, Daejon Reynolds and Marcus Burke. At TE, Gator fans hope that Kemore Gamble and Keon Zipperer, both who have looked promising in recent weeks, can fill some of the void left by Pitts. 2020 signee Jonathan Odom could get some decent minutes, plus 2021s Gage Wilcox and Nick Elksnis will arrive on campus.
Possibly no position group will see higher turnover in 2021 than the offensive line. The Gators will likely lose four starters in Brett Heggie, Stone Forsythe, Jean Delance and Stewart Reese unless somebody opts to play an extra season under NCAA's COVID eligibility rules. Florida will look to rely on younger players such as Ethan White, Michael Tarquin and Josh Braun to fill in alongside veteran Richard Gouraige. Offensive Line Coach John Hevesy is bringing in 5 offensive linemen as part of the 2021 class, including four-star Yousef Mugharbil who committed to the Gators last week. OL has been one of the most heavily recruited positions of the Mullen era. The Gators will likely experience a dip in production but should be able to find a steady rotation of players next season. On the defensive line, Florida struggled without Kyree Campbell early this year and will likely be losing both him and DT Tedarrell Slaton to the NFL Draft. Gervon Dexter, a five-star recruit in the 2020 class, will see the most snaps at DT next season alongside Marlon Dunlap. Zach Carter and Brenton Cox are both draft-eligible, too. Khris Bogle will look to be an anchor at the position if Carter, Cox or both depart. We'll be looking to see if guys like Andrew Chatfield and Lloyd Summerall can show flashes in Florida's remaining games. Jeremiah Moon, an oft-injured fifth-year senior, is someone who could return under the NCAA's COVID-19 eligibility rules. Lastly, Florida's patient QB-in-waiting Emory Jones looks primed to take the reins from Kyle Trask next season. The Gators have a steady flow of quarterbacks, with Anthony Richardson set to back up Emory Jones, plus incoming quarterbacks in four-star Carlos del Rio-Wilson and three-star Jalen Kitna joining the team in 2021. The second half of the season will be about winning a championship or two. But, in some games where the Gators should be able to run away from their opponents, we'll be watching to see which youngsters prime themselves for a big role in 2021. Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football
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