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. -- There’s plenty of opportunities for freshmen to get on the field at Florida in 2012. There’s also a need at certain positions.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the five freshmen who are most likely to make an impact this season:
DE Jonathan Bullard -- With Ronald Powell’s injury (torn ACL) the Gators are in desperate need of a pass-rusher. Bullard will get every chance to prove he can get it done. He’s got good size (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) and is a physical player. If he can develop, that’ll allow the Gators to move Sharrif Floyd from end to tackle, which is his more natural position.
DE Dante Fowler, Jr. -- Fowler was recruited to play Powell’s buck position, which belongs to Lerentee McCray right now. Fowler is very quick off the ball and has good size (6-3, 236) but needs to get stronger. His role is likely as a pass-rusher as a freshman, and since UF is deficient there he’ll get a chance to get on the field a lot.
LB Antonio Morrison -- He was one of six early enrollees, and he made an impression on coach Will Muschamp with his physical play. He can play multiple positions but will start off on the strongside. He showed he had a knack for being around the ball in the spring game (nine tackles). Those kind of guys can always help, and it’s easy to picture him becoming a special-teams standout and getting significant playing time on defense.
WR Latroy Pittman -- There may not be a more important freshman on the roster than Pittman, who enrolled early and had a fantastic spring. UF’s receivers have been a non-factor the past two seasons and Pittman has already shown he’s among the top three. He’ll get significant playing time and may end up being the best receiver on the roster if he continues to develop.
TE Kent Taylor -- With A.C. Leonard’s situation still unclear because he has yet to be fully reinstated to the team, the Gators are thin at tight end. After Jordan Reed, there isn’t any tight end on the roster who has caught a pass. Taylor is more of a receiver than the other tight end signee, Colin Thompson, so he’s more likely to figure into the mix. Plus, the Gators can flex him out to receiver, too, to help with the deficiencies there.