This week, we're looking at key position battles -- excluding quarterback -- for each SEC team. Next up is Florida where quarterback isn't the only position up for grabs this spring.
The skinny: OK, so the departed section of this might be a little misleading. Florida did lose boundary corners Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, but neither were nickel guys last year. And nickel Duke Dawson has moved to boundary, as has Chauncey Gardner, but since both are still on the roster there technically weren't any departures.
Whew, glad we got that out of the way.
But with Dawson, who was excellent at nickel last year, now on the outside, the Gators have a pretty big hole to fill there. Gardner would have been perfect guy to slide in, but now that he's on the outside, new defensive backs coach Corey Bell has the job of starting over from scratch along with the guys competing for this position.
For now, the Gators are hurting in the depth department in the back end of their defense. As you can see above, there aren't a lot of bodies to rotate at all of the corner spots. McWilliams has also been reduced to non-contact drills this spring.
Putu was a late addition to Florida's 2016 class, and while he didn't arrive with much fanfare, having a year in Florida's defensive system should help him this spring. He also played in 10 games as a backup last year.
Williamson played in nine games last year and started one. He's mostly been a special teams player, but this spring affords the veteran a chance to really make an impact in the secondary. He played receiver in high school, so the staff is hoping those hands pay off.
Burnett is an interesting contender. He was a running back in high school and has pretty good explosion. That could be both a good and bad thing at nickel when it comes to breaking on a ball or route. Still, he's an athlete and practiced outside last year, which should have improved his one-on-one ability. He's also a pretty tough guy, which will help at the more physical nickel spot.
There are plenty of options with the incoming freshmen. Henderson could be a future stud in the secondary, but after playing mostly offense in high school, he isn't as polished as Wilson, the younger brother of Quincy Wilson, or Stewart.
Wilson has received high praise for his coverage skills, but keep an eye on the versatile Stewart. He will likely be a safety for the Gators, but with that nickel spot open, he'll get every opportunity to snag that spot once he gets on campus.