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March 10, 2013

Spring Preview: Who will sink or swim?



It's a time of make or break for a number of Florida's players as spring camp 2013 comes into focus this week. Inside the Gators takes a look at five players whose futures are on the line in 2013.

Junior running back Mack Brown
One excuse after another has been made for Brown, who has 40 carries, 167 yards rushing and zero touchdowns in a UF career that started with talks of great promise. If he's ever going to have a chance to fit into what the Gators want to do, it's going to have to be this year. Freshman Kelvin Taylor is equipped to take over whatever carries Brown could be considered for this year and those chances will diminish further when Adam Lane arrives this summer. Brown's carries were easily taken over by Matt Jones in 2012 and if another year passes without him making an impact, his time at Florida could pass without significance.

Junior linebacker Michael Taylor
After playing a reserve role at inside linebacker in 2012, one would think Taylor would have the inside track on filling a starting role left vacant by Jonathan Bostic or Jelani Jenkins. That may not be as likely as it sounds. Of Florida's two most prominent returning linebackers, Taylor is generally thought to be less talented, versatile and athletic than sophomore Antonio Morrison. In addition, Florida coach Will Muschamp recently said freshmen Daniel McMillian and Alex Anzalone will have plenty of opportunities to contribute right away. Both could have the upper-hand on Taylor in pass coverage, which could especially put Taylor's future in jeopardy if Morrison gets the opportunity to play in the middle.

Junior offensive tackle Chaz Green
Almost nothing is guaranteed this spring along a UF offensive line that was the worst in the Southeastern Conference last season in pass protection. That is especially true at tackle, where Green's performance was nothing special in 2012. While sophomore D.J. Humphries is the favorite at left tackle, Green will have to deal with pressure from transfers Tyler Moore and Max Garcia for his job at right tackle. Green does have the possibility of moving inside to guard if one of the transfers takes his job, but his best case scenario likely involves fighting for a rotation spot at right tackle.

Junior safety Jabari Gorman
The two safety positions will feature one of the most wide-open battles on Florida's roster during spring and fall camp. Gorman is one of the less heralded players who has the benefit of some game experience and a strong performance during last year's spring practices. He is hardly the sexy pick to replace Josh Evans or Matt Elam, as fans will point mostly toward redshirt freshmen like Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter or incoming freshmen like Marcell Harris and Keanu Neal. Gorman's biggest advantage is being in spring practices while most of his future competition prepares for prom.

Sophomore wide receiver Latroy Pittman
This might be the tamest situation of those on the list. Pittman is not going to entirely fall off the map if he doesn't have a big offseason. That said, Florida is looking for playmakers, and Pittman proved little during his freshman season other than an ability and willingness to block in the running game. With Demarcus Robinson and a class of four other freshmen receivers coming in, there is plenty of competition at a position where the Gators need to find people who can create excitement. Pittman could very well be an unspectacular but productive player at Florida, but this year could be his chance to show he is something more.


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