It's that time of year again. The letters of intent have been faxed, spring practice is right around the corner (March 16) and some student-athletes are re-evaluating their place with the Gators. Transfers are inevitable, and there are some prime candidates to get the heck up outta here in search of greener pastures.
The new coaching staff can work two ways when it comes to transfers. There are guys whom Urban Meyer loved despite their faults, and a fresh start is worrisome for them (COUGHDEONTETHOMPSONCOUGH). Excuse me. Then there are those who didn't seem to get their due but could now that everyone's starting at square one.
Now, I've written things like this in the past and usually gotten angry feedback, so I'd like to make myself clear first. From a UF fan's perspective, nothing could be better than playing for the Gators, but that's not necessarily the best fit for everyone, so this list is full of names for whom a move could be of benefit and is in no way meant as an insult. In fact, Gator Clause wishes any future transfers from UF nothing but the best: $200,000, a Heisman Trophy and a national title.
Now, let's get to it:
-QB: John Brantley and Tyler Murphy
Brantley made the decision to stay because he's happy with Charlie Weis and a pro-style offense. But he'll have to deal with Jeff Driskel in spring practice, and if Driskel gets off to a hot start and there's an open competition, I wouldn't be shocked to see Brantley up sticks (one of the best phrases known to man). However, Brantley handled a very tough situation last season like a professional. He never whined, and he held his leadership role even in the face of diminished playing time. Granted, he helped put himself in that situation by sucking, but I say that to point out that he's a resilient fellow.
If Brantley stays, Murphy has got to be leaving unless he wants to inherit the Jimmy Hoffa position on the depth chart. He'd be behind Brantley, Driskel, Jacoby Brissett, Jordan Reed and probably be battling Gainesville High walk-on Ryan McGriff for scout-team duties. Side note: I saw McGriff play at GHS, and he's got a good arm. Good guy to have around.
-RB: Mack Brown
Brown never got a chance this season, and he fits into that category of guys who can impress and earn some playing time. But he's still got Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Mike Gillislee in front of him and Mike Blakely coming in. Blakely is out for the spring because of shoulder surgery, which makes Brown leaving less likely in my mind. This is a guy Florida should want to keep around since Demps and Rainey are gone after this year.
-WR: Andre Debose
Weis and Will Muschamp better be promising the world to Debose. I had him figured for a definite transfer until Meyer left, and if he doesn't feel like he'll be a bigger part of the offense during spring practice, I still wouldn't be surprised to see him leave. That would be a disaster, so I'd imagine Muschamp and Weis wouldn't let that happen. Then again, I would have imagined there was no way Meyer wouldn't realize Debose needed to play more, yet he seemingly didn't. If you were at the Florida-Kentucky basketball game Saturday, you witnessed the hilarity of Debose being honored with an award for being a baller kick returner, meaning his speed and elusiveness was impressive enough to warrant public commendation but not playing time on one of the most dysfunctional offenses in the country. LOL. And I'd expect to see a non-Debose receiver leave as well, because that happens just about every year.
-TE: Desmond Parks
Reed, Gerald Christian and A.C. Leonard are all likely ahead of Parks, and then there's pseudo-tight end Trey Burton. Roll out.
-CB: Any and everyone not named Janoris Jenkins
This is going to be one hell of a position battle in the spring. Jenkins' surprise announcement that he's staying for his senior year cranks up an already intense struggle for the No. 2 spot. Jeremy Brown, Cody Riggs, Moses Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins all saw a fair amount of playing time there last year, and there's only so much to go around. Add in bigtime recruit Josh Shaw (now a redshirt freshman) and the whopping six defensive backs in this recruiting class, and there are bound to be some heading for the door. I have very close to zero insight on Watkins (not that much of a drop from my usual insight I suppose), but Riggs is the least physically gifted and will have to re-enact the Rudy routine that gained him favor with last year's coaches. Moses will lose all the goodwill he built up through years of special teams work, and Brown was one of those "Meyer guys" but struggled late in the year. This crew should be tripping over themselves to hold doors open for their new coaches.
What do y'all think of this list? I tried to stick to the bigger names and not guys at the bottom of the depth chart. Any other names you're worried about? I'd expect the offensive linemen to stay since playing time is wide open for next year, and the annual rumors of more 3-4 defense make me hesitant to pick out any linebackers. There are some interesting cases like Earl Okine -- guys who bounced around positions and could be left drifting in the wind a bit -- but we'll have to wait and see what happens in the spring for those.