During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
No. 97 Brad Phillips
Expectations for 2013: Phillips is locked in a battle with redshirt freshman Austin Hardin to be the Gators’ kicker. Both players struggled in the spring with consistency. What was even more troubling is that they had accuracy issues with kicks in the 40-yard range, which should be nearly automatic for college kickers. Nobody is expecting either to be Caleb Sturgis, who is regarded as the best kicker in school history and holds the school record with eight field goals of 50-plus yards. But one of them needs to be a reliable option.
Best-case scenario in 2013: Phillips has appeared in seven games, mainly as a kickoff specialist, so he at least has game experience. He has made two of his three field-goal attempts with a long of 43 yards. UF coach Will Muschamp understands the limitations Phillips and Hardin have, so he’s not going to ask them to try many long field goals. That should help with their confidence and consistency -- and hopefully results, too.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: This is a competition that very well could go on throughout the season, with the player who performs the best in practice during the week earning the right to kick on Saturdays. It would be beneficial if one was to win the job outright, but unless they perform much better than they did in the spring, that won’t happen.
Future impact: This job will belong to Hardin in 2014. He has the stronger leg and is on scholarship. But he has to become more accurate and be able to handle the pressure of kicking in games.