While the Florida Gators had one of their worst seasons in program history, there were a few bright spots. The freshmen class for the Gators was a breath of fresh air as they contributed much to this season. Some of Florida’s best playmakers were freshman which shows that the Gators’ future could be bright. A lot of freshman got playing time and some even started either in the beginning of the season or later on into season. Here are the top five freshman for the Florida Gators in 2017.
Top Five Florida Freshmen
CB C.J. Henderson
C.J. Henderson was quite a surprise for the Gators this season. The true freshman had a great freshman season and has shown big time playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. Henderson was a four-star athlete out of Christopher Columbus High School. The Under Armour All-American wasn’t expected to be a main contributor for the defense due to his inexperience at corner. Henderson was the starting nickel for the Gators and quickly became one of their most dangerous corner. Henderson had four interceptions on the season with two of them being returned back for a touchdown. The South Florida native should be named to the All-SEC Freshman team but he also has a chance at the Freshman All-American team. Henderson will be one of the defensive players coming back next season to maintain the “DBU” tradition.
CB Marco Wilson
Marco Wilson was always expected to be one of top recruits in the past class and he has proven that so far. Wilson was a four-star cornerback out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. He is the younger brother to former Florida Gators and current Indianapolis Colts corner, Quincy Wilson. Marco came into Florida with a chip on his shoulder. Going into Florida, he knew he was going to be referred to as “Quincy’s brother”, but he wanted to make a name for himself. Wilson came into camp and was named the starting corner alongside Duke Dawson. Marco didn’t have any picks his freshman season but teams tried to avoid him as he had receivers covered like blankets. Just like Henderson, Wilson should be in consideration for All-SEC Freshman team.
RB Malik Davis
Malik Davis was one of the biggest surprises the Gators had this season. The true freshman running back had a great freshman season after people didn’t expect much out of him. The Gators had signed two running backs in Malik Davis and Adarius Lemons. Davis was a three-star recruit out of Tampa Jesuit but Lemons was a four-star and considered one of the top backs in Florida. Most expected Lemons to be third or fourth in Florida’s depth chart but it was actually Davis would impressed everybody in camp. Davis quickly became Florida’s third back in the depth after Jordan Scarlett was suspended. Davis really made a name for himself in the Tennessee after he almost rushed for 100 yards. He became the starting RB until he suffered a knee injury vs. Georgia. Davis had 79 carries for 526 yards and two touchdowns.
LG Brett Heggie
The only redshirt-freshman to crack the list is the left guard Brett Heggie. He was a three-star recruit in the 2016 recruiting class. He was also an Under Armour All-American with other Gators commits like Chauncey Gardner, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond. Heggie sat out his freshman season but was expected to make a huge contribution as a redshirt-freshman. Heggie did make a big impact as he was named the starting left guard in fall camp after impressing Florida’s offensive line coach Brad Davis. In his redshirt-freshman season, Heggie was one of Florida’s top offensive lineman and some considered their best. Heggie could potential crack the All-SEC Freshman team
WR Kadarius Toney
In the beginning of spring ball, true freshman Kadarius Toney came in as a quarterback. Toney should a lot of playmaking ability so the coaching staff moved him to wide receiver. Florida used Kadarius Toney as their secret weapon until he started tearing up Tennessee and Kentucky. The Alabama native had pretty good freshman season for an inexperienced receiver. He had 15 receptions for 152 yards. He also had 14 carries for 120 yards and a rushing touchdown against Kentucky. One of the reasons Toney didn’t have a great season was because the coaching started targeting him less. Toney is an extremely explosive receiver who can make people miss with the ball in his hands. Toney should thrive under Dan Mullen’s offense as he know how to get the ball to his top playmakers.