ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s not often that a ranking of a team’s top five offensive players doesn’t include a quarterback. But it’s the case with the Florida Gators.
Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett had limited success when they got on the field last season , so ranking them among the top five offensive players would be doing so based on projecting their level of play in 2012. Since they’re both still competing to be the starter, that’s not really possible.
So we left them off the list -- for now. At the end of the season, one will almost certainly be on the list. But heading into the 2012 season, here are the Gators’ top five players on offense in order:
RB Mike Gillislee -- Gillislee hasn’t had many opportunities in his previous three seasons, but he has produced when he did get to carry the ball: 920 yards, 10 TDs, 6.3 yards per carry. He proved in spring practice he can be a reliable pass-blocker, too. He’s going to get a lot of work because the Gators want to pound the football.
WR Andre Debose -- He has certainly had consistency issues, but when Debose does show up he’s fantastic. He caught 16 passes last season and averaged 27.0 yards per catch. All four of his TD catches were from at least 60 yards. He’s also the only receiver who has proven he can make a play on the ball in the air. If he ever becomes a consistent player, he’ll be an All-SEC selection.
FB Trey Burton -- Burton is on this list because of his versatility and football IQ. He can play wildcat QB, running back, fullback, receiver, tight end and H-back. And he could probably call plays, too. He’s also great in the locker room as a leader.
TE Jordan Reed -- He’s got the size (6-foot-3, 239 pounds), speed and athleticism to be an elite player, but he’s continuing to adjust to the position. Still, he caught 28 passes last season (second-most on the team) for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a matchup nightmare for defenses.
G Jon Halapio -- He has started 20 games over the past two seasons, including 13 in 2011. He has started 14 consecutive games, which is the longest streak by any UF offensive lineman. He was the most consistent player on the line last season.