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Florida coach Will Muschamp and then-freshman OL D.J. Humphries after last season's win at FSU.

Tuesday July 2, 2013Muschamp Welcomes Latest Wave of Newcomers to Program

Florida coach Will Muschamp and then-freshman OL D.J. Humphries after last season's win at FSU.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The signs that football season is getting closer are starting to appear more frequently.

On Monday the calendar flipped to July, which means you can now say “the Gators open the season next month” without someone giving you a funny look back.

Florida hosts Toledo on Aug. 31 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to kick off head coach Will Muschamp’s third season.

Muschamp is 18-8 in his first two seasons and led the Gators to an 11-2 record and No. 9 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll in 2012.

Muschamp spent part of Tuesday afternoon in a meeting to introduce the newcomers to their new teammates. While eight players in Florida’s 2013 signing class enrolled in January (RB Kelvin Taylor, WR Demarcus Robinson, OL Tyler Moore, LB Alex Anzalone, LB Daniel McMillian, DL Darious Cummings, DL Joey Ivie and LB Matt Rolin), 20 more players have arrived and started summer B semester classes Monday.

The latest wave of players to join the program includes four receivers (Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fulwood, Marqui Hawkins, Chris Thompson), four defensive backs (Vernon Hargreaves III, Marcell Harris, Keanu Neal, Nick Washington), four defensive linemen (Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley, Antonio Riles, Jordan Sherit), three offensive linemen (Octavius Jackson, Cameron Dillard, Trenton Brown), linebacker Jarrad Davis, quarterback Max Staver, running back Adam Lane, punter Johnny Townsend and combo-athlete Trevon Young.

Now that they are here, they can forget how many stars they earned on the recruiting trail and start to compete for playing time.

That is a key part of Muschamp’s message to newcomers.

“I always tell them: ‘We’re going to promise you an opportunity. I’m not going to promise you anything past that,’ ‘’ Muschamp said on National Signing Day. “So you better understand you’re going to compete at Florida.”

In Muschamp’s world the best players in practice play regardless of class and players can lose their starting job with a poor week Monday through Thursday.

Matt Jones, D.J. Humphries, Dante Fowler Jr., Antonio Morrison and Jonathan Bullard all contributed as true freshmen in 2012 and for the Gators to duplicate or exceed their success from last season, they will need players in Tuesday’s introduction session to emerge as solid contributors.

Florida lost seven starters on defense, including All-American safety Matt Elam and All-SEC defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Offensively, Florida’s top losses were running back Mike Gillislee, tight end Jordan Reed, offensive linemen Xavier Nixon and James Wilson, and kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Perhaps more than any other group of newcomers, the receivers will be watched closely when fall camp opens the first week of August. Junior starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is back and second-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease is looking to open up the passing game in Driskel’s second season as the starter.

Robinson made a strong impression in spring practice and Muschamp would like to see the others take his lead in fall camp.

“Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete,’’ Muschamp said of the receivers. “I tell them you’re the one that will determine how much you play, not me.”

Muschamp’s optimism is high for a signing class that ranked in the top five in the country by most of the major recruiting services.

“We will know about this class in two or three years,’’ Muschamp said. “A lot of these guys were guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits and there [wasn’t] a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want.”

With the newcomers on campus, the next major event on the Florida football calendar is July 16 when Muschamp and selected players head to Hoover, Ala., for SEC Media Days.

 

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