Florida Gators Camp Breakdown: WR
There is a lot of excitement swirling around the potential of how good the offense could be. The position that is being talked about the most, on offense, is the wide receiver position. This is the best wide receiver core the Gators have had since the Tim Tebow era. The numbers might not show it, but this is projected to be the best wide receiving core in the Southeastern Conference. Florida’s head coach Jim McElwain has done a terrific job recruiting some of the top wide receivers in the country. Florida probably has the deepest and most talented wide receiver core in the country. Whoever is the starting quarterback for the Gators in 2017 will have a lot of weapons to throw to.
Sophomore- Tyrie Cleveland
Freshman- James Robinson
Tyrie Cleveland is the mostly likely candidate to be the breakout star in Florida’s offense. The Texas native had a lot of high expectations since he was an Under Armour All-American and a top five wide receiver in the country. Cleveland would start off on the wrong foot as he got in trouble for a BB gun and breaking property. To make matters worse, Cleveland suffered a leg injury sidelining him until the Tennessee game. Cleveland’s breakout game was against LSU when he had three receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland arguably had the biggest play in the game when he scored a 98-yard touchdown down the sideline. Since then, Cleveland has added muscle and has improved his game. In the spring, reports were coming out that Antonio Callaway and Cleveland were looking like elite level receivers.
Just like Adarius Lemons, James Robinson’s road to Gainesville was not the easy road. The Clearwater product was finally cleared by the NCAA and arrived to University of Florida on Friday. With Robinson on campus, the Gators have added another wide receiver that could be one of the biggest deep threats in the country. The Under Armour All-American is a terrific player that can really make a difference if he keeps his head down and surrounds himself around the right people. He has excellent hands and does a great job of high-pointing the ball with his size. He might not be a #1 type receiver, but he could be the perfect #2 receiver with Tyrie Cleveland next season. McElwain really fought hard to get Robinson in Florida and Gators fans are going to see why.
Junior- Antonio Callaway
Sophomore- Josh Hammond
Freshman- Daquon Green
Antonio Callaway is the biggest name on Florida’s offense and for good reason. Callaway is a top three wide out in the SEC with Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk. Florida’s top receiver has the ability and potential to be an All-American receiver but we really haven’t seen him with a quarterback who can constantly get him the ball. Callaway had 54 receptions in 2016 which was 9th in the SEC but he is much better than that. The Miami native had his first spring camp and has really improved during the camp. He has added more strength and worked on his hands. Callaway had a lot of drops last season and really wanted to work on it this offseason. Callaway is draft eligible and is expected to be an early round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. An All-SEC type season could get Callaway in the first round.
Josh Hammond is another guy who has improved since last season. He won’t be counted on to be a go to receiver but he could surprise a lot of people. The former Under Armour All-American has really done a great job of working on being more of a deep ball threat and reliable. Hammond had a lot of high expectation coming into Florida since he was a four-star recruit and his brother is former Gator and current Kansas City Chief, Frankie Hammond Jr. Hammond does all the little things right. He is an excellent route-runner with solid hands and has earned the Florida coaching staff’s trust. Florida’s offense relies on good route-runners who, like Hammond, could emerge has an unexpected impact player.
Daquon Green was a four-star wide receiver out of Tampa Tech High School in Central Florida. The freshman wide out was one of the first recruits to join the class as he committed to the Gators at the Friday Night Lights camp in 2015. Green isn’t the flashiest wide receiver but he is a guy that could really make a nice impact in the next few years. The Under Armour All-American doesn’t jump off the page with his size or speed but he does have terrific hands and has great body control. He’s also a pretty solid route-runner which could help him get early playing time. “Really special,” Coach Jim McElwain said. “He’s a guy from the get-go that we kind of saw at one of our camps.”
Slot Receiver (Y)
Brandon Powell is the last wide receiver that former Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp signed. Unlike most of his offensive recruits, Powell has been a solid player and would probably be a much better player without the ankle injuries. As a freshman, you can see that Powell was a special player with his speed and playmaking ability. Unfortunately, his ankle injuries have slowed him down and kept him off the field. In 2016, Powell had his best season as Florida’s starting slot receiver, Dre Massey, tore his ACL in the first game of the season. Powell had 46 receptions for 387 yards and two touchdowns. If the Gators have good quarterback play, Powell could be the perfect guy to get the short yards. He has formed a nice relationship with Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire, so he could get more catch with their chemistry.
One of the other candidates for being a breakout player is Dre Massey. The four-star JUCO transfer had a lot of praise in the 2016 spring and fall camp. He’s one of the fastest players on the team and he knows how to get open. Florida fans didn’t get to see what Massey was all about because he tore his ACL on the opening kickoff against UMASS. Massey has fully recovered and has been circling the Michigan matchup since the injury. The redshirt-junior provides an explosive option that can make short gains into six points. He can play all over the field and really create a lot of mismatches. If Massey can stay on the field, Massey could be one of the breakout stars in the SEC.
One of the biggest injuries during spring camp was sophomore wide receiver Freddie Swain. The former four-star wide receiver had a better than expected freshman season as he was not expected to produce very much on offense. In his freshman season, Swain had eight receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Even though he missed all of spring, the coaching staff is still extremely high on him due to his potential of picking up first downs and creating big plays. Jim McElwain has talked about the “Florida speed”, Swain could be one of the guys he is talking about. There are a lot of explosive playmakers on Florida’s offense. If the Gators could find a good QB, Swain and the rest of the receivers could really show off their skills. The expectations are high on the offense and Swain could be an important part in the offense.