QB Chris Leak

2005 Statistics

Coach: Urban Meyer
9-3, 1 year
2005 Record: 9-3
at Kentucky WON 49-28
at Alabama LOST 3-31
at Louisiana State LOST 17-21
vs. Georgia WON 14-10
at South Carolina LOST 22-30
vs. Iowa WON 31-24

2005 Final Rankings
AP-12, Coaches-16, BCS-17

2006 Outlook

It was a rough year in Gainesville. So many, including ourselves, thought the legend of Urban Meyer would carry over and that, with so many more superior athletes than he has ever had with which to work, he would run roughshod over the SEC competition with his superior “spread” approach and tough defensive ideals – like he did at Bowling Green and Utah. But those results were in softer conferences, and foes’ superior defensive athletes in the SEC proved they could react to the subtleties he and OC Mullen had fooled others with and reflect much better stopping power. UF was (and will be) balanced, but that barely ranked them in the top half of the nation for offensive categories, not in the top 10 as was the case at those other stops. Leak also struggled with the new approach. Conversely, the ability of his defense did excel, so he has the most important variable in line – without D, you go nowhere in the SEC, huh. Siler, Everett, Thomas & Co. will need little to make them go, and depth in each stopping unit means defensive consistency will take them far into games if/when the O struggles.

Florida’s offensive foray will be better, that is if Meyer’s second year here is anything like it was at either other school. Meyer will simplify, not further complicate, his offense, making more conventional, “tighter” sets the norm and the spread more the exception. Arguably, this is how UF had the most success in ‘05, and Leak will make things go if this can happen. Running to set up the pass - not the opposite, as seemed the case last year – from those traditional sets will then make the spread more formidable/intimidating. Meyer can keep trying the spread to start, but will likely get the same mixed results. Change will be good for his usual.

Meyer is a master recruiter, and his haul over the last two seasons will come to fruition that much more due to his own choices taking over more spots (OL). Having this classes’ No.1 QB (Tebow) will make for a short leash if Leak cannot do what is asked, and Leak’s tutelage will least of all make handing over the reigns for ’07 segue well. But this is 2006, and the Gators know someone will lead them to better results.

The Gators have non-cons Southern Miss and UCF as warm-ups, and then a trip to Knoxville will tell whether they have the chomping power to finally put some marks in the conference’s best. The offensive line will really be the key – as they rise/fall, so will the team’s results. ‘Bama and LSU – both at home – along with Georgia, will then reveal where UF will finish. Meyer needs to make amends for losing so bad in Tuscaloosa (31-3), or there is no reason to believe he has the rallying power to raise this squad to the levels when/how needed. Just ask Gene…

Projected 2006 record: 10-2
QB - 4.5 DL - 4.5
RB - 3 LB - 4.5
WR - 4 DB - 3
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Chris Leak, 324-235-6, 2639 yds., 20 TD

Rushing: DeShawn Wynn, 130 att., 621 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Dallas Baker, 52 rec., 697 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Chris Hetland, 13-16 FG, 38-40 PAT, 77 pts.

Punting: Eric Wilbur, 59 punts, 41.7 avg.

Chris Hetland, 13-16 FG, 38-40 PAT, 77 pts.

Tackles: Earl Everett, 72 tot., 39 solo

Sacks: Jarvis Moss, 7.5 sacks

Interceptions: Earl Everett, 2 for 7 yds.; Kyle Jackson, 2 for 0 yds.

Kickoff Returns:
Markus Manson, 16 ret., 19.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Tremaine McCollum, 1 ret., 8.0 avg., 0 TD; Jemalle Cornelius, 1 ret., 22.0 avg., 0 TD


LB Brandon Siler
OFFENSE: Randy Hand-OT, Tavares Washington-OG, Mike Degory-C, Lance Butler-OT, Chad Jackson-WR (NFL), Skyler Thornton-RB (transferred), Josh Portis-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Jeremy Mincey-DE, Todd McCullough-SLB, Vernell Brown-CB, Jarvis Herring-SS, Demetrice Webb-CB (NFL)

Urban Meyer didn’t do what he has done in the past two places (Bowling Green, Utah) he was brought in – he failed to make the QB (Chris Leak, in this case) much better than he already was. Leak hasn’t been bad, but has yet to live up to his potential. The Charlotte-native was the No.2 pro-style hurler when recruited in ’03, and with 4.6 speed, and most thought Meyer would make him as efficient as Alex Smith and/or Omar Jacobs became. But the SEC has defenses that are “up to speed” with the best, so Meyer’s schemes have yet to truly blossom under Leak. But none of this disqualifies Leak from the top spot here. Most know that Leak should be more impacting in his second/senior year with Meyer, and we agree. Leak has the improvisational skills to make the UF spread offense work, so expect his tenure to go out with a bang. Hi s2005 backup, Josh Portis, was too good not to start, so he transferred to Maryland. Luckily, the big news out of Gainesville in the off-season has been Tim Tebow, who set state prep records at St. Augustine for both career and single-season total yards, and was rated this year’s top QB prize. Meyer will surely play Tebow, knowing the future is so bright in the sunshine state and that the kid needs to see time so this unit can develop beyond 2006. Still, no experience would likely mean adjustment time if Tebow becomes the primary. But after that, he could actually make the O hum even better.

Running Back
Coach Meyer lambasted the spring developments here, saying that if more isn’t seen from them, and soon, he may just throw every down…really, he said that. His disappointments are shared with so much talent to be had, but a rebound is surely in their forecast. DeShawn Wynn weighs 235 lbs. and can run the 40 in 4.35. Do we really have to say more? When given the rock, he runs over, around and right through defensemen, with a deceptively quick first few steps. He is too often 10 yards down the field before anyone can even touch him, and what a load to bring down – arm tackles don’t work with Wynn. Marcus Manson has a 39” vertical leap and is even faster. He doesn’t quite have Wynn’s power, but his swiftness allows him to be a nice alternative to Wynn. Both will have jobs on Sundays in the future. Kestahn Moore is a hybrid RB/WR who gets the ball enough that we will list him, though Wynn seems to be allowed to go deeper in his routes in Meyer’s eclectic play-calling. Chevon Walker entered school prior to spring so as to be “up to speed” with the Gator schemes, but he is neither big nor super fast, though is supposed to be the future here with so many prep accolades. The nation’s 16th-rated RB prospect (Scout.com), Mon Williams, also seems a bit slow to take the corner for sure gains, but has the same promise as Walker and will surely get a look. With the QBs also having ground impact, UF needs to make this unit reflect better results (56th rushing offense and only 3.9 per carry in ’05).

Senior Dallas Baker joins two classmates to give the Gators another formidable group that foes cannot ignore, or else. Baker will be the primary target and has the size to go underneath without being slaughtered by safeties. Jemalle Cornelius will help to stretch the field, while Ken Tookes and junior Andre Caldwell (most reliable hands on the team) can do the same, or anything else Meyer requires. All are over 6-foot, so the Gator’s three-and four-WR sets impose mismatches galore. Then there is the No.1 overall recruit of this year’s class – Percy Harvin – who will hit the field sometime soon, and Harvin is just one of many major recruits (sub-4.4 guys Jarred Fayson and Riley Cooper are both too fast not to see time) Meyer has made sure come here to play their best. Only LSU has had a unit this deep so recently, a corps going four-deep across each spot. The only problem will be getting them all the rock enough so that none transfers, a problem that bodes well for Gator fans.

Tight End (H-back)
Tate Casey has the size and speed to make this spot work both ways, but Meyer doesn’t give this position the usual look. Trent Pupello will add dimension to the spot, though Pupello comes for his first year as a Gator. Eric Rutledge and Cornelius Ingram are brought in more for running plays when conventional two-TE sets are used, but that won’t happen as much as plays where the TE/H-back is put in the slot/spread and/or backfield. Still, so many options here has to keep foes guessing, depending on how they look as the ball is snapped.

Offensive Line
We see a weakness here, comparatively, for the UF offense. Losing four starters will hurt, but Meyer has recruited well to get the kind of guys he wants, so it is just a matter of time until this area develops beyond what it once was. Steve Rissler and Drew Miller, both Sarasota-Riverview products (our editor’s alma mater), will give them size inside to go with experience. Street & Smith prep all-American Jim Tartt, now a sophomore, also has enough size and footwork to take on the biggest of DLmen, and he will anchor an outside spot. Five-star recruit Carl Johnson is the No.4 guard coming in this year, representing the youth we outlined that should make this area eventually better than it was - a group that gave up 35 sacks, even with the mobility of Leak, and plowed for under four per rush. Meyer pulls and shifts assignments up front, something that has worked best when Urban can get his big men into his quirky approach before they learn more conventional (and easier) schemes. But a move toward ore convention may occur, so it is all good. Like last year, developments here will dictate how the entire offense works, for this area is too relied upon not to mean such.

This will be the second year under the creative schemes of Urban Meyer, which, at his other stops, has been the year his offense becomes one of the nation’s best. But the SEC is a tough place to think that you can just fly by those superior in-conference defenses, and Meyer knows it won’t be magic that raises the production. One cannot just “spread” opposing SEC defenders and expect them to be exploited via isolation – athletic defenders in this superior conference can recover and exploit such ways, themselves. Dan Mullen, brought along from Utah with Meyer as his secret weapon, will surely take hard lessons to heed and benefit the offense due to such. Their results with the talents of Leak at the helm were balanced (56th-ranked in rushing, 51st in passing), but that only ranked UF 61st in total production, very un-Meyer/Mullen-like numbers with so much at the talent positions. The revamped line will actually help developments in the long run, and their trip to Knoxville (third game) will let us know how far this offense will be able to go via the “Gator beef”.


WR Dallas Baker


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Chris Leak-Sr (6-0, 210) Tim Tebow-Fr (6-3, 229)
RB Kestahn Moore-So (5-10, 212) DeShawn Wynn-Sr (5-11, 232)
Markus Manson-So (6-0, 210)
WR Dallas Baker-Sr (6-3, 206)

Andre Caldwell-Sr (6-1, 200)

WR Jemalle Cornelius-Sr (5-11, 290) Nyan Boateng-So (6-2, 205)
WR Kenneth Tookes-Sr (6-2, 209) Louis Murphy-So (6-3, 195)
Billy Latsko-Sr (5-10, 231) (HB)
TE Tate Casey-Jr (6-6, 242) Cornelius Ingram-So (6-4, 235)
OT Phil Trautwein-Jr (6-6, 309) Carlton Medder-Jr (6-5, 315)
OG Jim Tartt-So (6-3, 310) Maurice Hurt-Fr (6-2, 315)
C Steve Rissler-Sr (6-3, 310) Eddie Haupt-Fr (6-4, 295)
OG Ronnie Wilson-Fr (6-4, 310) Simon Codrington-Fr (6-7, 310)
OT Drew Miller-Jr (6-5, 305) Jason Watkins-So (6-6, 310)
K Chris Hetland-Sr (6-0, 185) Jonathan Phillips-So (5-11, 195)



Defensive Line
Four proven seniors will make the line again formidable. Inside will be returning starters Marcus Thomas and Steven Harris, two seemingly undersized guys who play bigger than they appear. Both are smaller than most tackles, but Thomas is a special kind of player that occupies two hats, or foes pay the price. Harris isn’t “chopped liver”, making plays all over, too. Hey, you can’t put two hats on both, so the middle will be constantly clogged. Classmate Joe Cohen and sophomore Derrick Harvey get the nod on the outside, with Harvey excelling enough to pass senior backup Ray MacDonald on the depth chart. Jarvis Moss, a man amongst men, seems to be the statistical choice to start, so a healthy rotation means experience and fresh legs for 60 full minutes of pain. Three four-star-caliber DTs come in with this class. This is a top 10 rushing defense again, possibly lowering their 3.1 yards allowed per carry average, too.

Brandon Siler will be a junior, and with his 4.5 speed in the 40 and all-academic mind, he will lead the D from his MLB spot again to great heights. If there is a loose ball, he falls on it (seven fumble recoveries in ‘05), and he is just everywhere the action goes. Ex-RB Earl Everett is the lone senior starter to return, and he produces much from his weakside spot. Everett can play any back-seven position, so when you see him line up one-on-one in the slot, don’t buy into any thoughts of a mismatch. Big guy John Demps was too good not to see time his first year and is primed to step up as a starter, if heralded, while svelte RS frosh Ryan Stamper and his 4.6 speed will produce as another cover-specialist. This year’s No.2 prize (Rivals.com) at OLB is Shelby, N.C.-native Brandon Spikes, and Meyer made sure he is wearing Blue-and-Orange for a reason. Other four-star prospects make this area have depth even before real game trials prove anything. Foes who have discounted UF’s LB corps in the past have paid, dearly, and unknowns dotting the roster shouldn’t scare Gator fans.

Defensive Back
This is the area we feel could cost UF the most yards, seeing how three of four starters have left, and how the remaining starter, free safety Kyle Jackson, is only a sophomore. He is well-sized and hits with vengeance, and there is a foundation of experience around which to build with junior Reggie Nelson. Nelson is a kick-blocking fiend, so his presence in the box will be commonplace, most likely. Nelson had more tackles than Jackson, and will rotate in early and often, if not making the starting grade, himself. Classmate Tony Joiner will likely be the other safety, and he has made coming up with huge plays his forte. Jacques Richardson and Derrick Robinson (4.25 speed!) will push twins Jermaine and Tremaine McCollum for those vaunted starting corner spots, but experience says the brothers will be the main components on the outside, and both can survive on islands, if need be. It will matter how quickly this group can come together as to how the entire defensive effort plays out, but Meyer has enough green recruits to plug in if injuries occur. That may mean a step back initially, but the talent is there for this to be as good a crew as any in the conference.

The front seven is strong, and the DBs just have to catch up to their brethren’s quality to make the secondary as feared. Since the LBs (Everett and Siler) are the genuine shizz, their efforts will pull the entire D together for maximum results, aiding the DBs until they come along. Meyer demands his D hold as much water as his creative spread offense, so there will be little room for errors before subs are brought in, and depth exists everywhere. They will likely employ a healthy rotation, anyway, and such will keep the entire defensive effort strong for the 60 needed minutes, with no drop off in fourth quarter production (they were only on the field an average of 27+ minutes in ’05, which should continue). Still, the 78 fourth-quarter points given up by the Gators has to be lessened, or losses will occur. With sunshine state prospects displaying speed and strength, there is no reason to believe the secondary’s initial showing(s) will not drastically improve as they learn, and the schedule demands this to be true. Cover-two will be employed early, but Meyer and his blitzing ways will demand more as the SEC foes hit. This will again be a top 10 defense (ninth overall in ’05).


DT Marcus Thomas


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Ray McDonald-Sr (6-3, 280) Derrick Harvey-So (6-4, 260)
DT Marcus Thomas-Sr (6-3, 290) Clint McMillan-Jr (6-1, 282)
DT Steven Harris-Sr (6-4, 285) Joe Cohen-Sr (6-2, 292)
DE Jarvis Moss-Jr (6-6, 252) Darryl Gresham-Fr (6-1, 260)
SLB Brian Crum-Sr (6-3, 237) Eric Sledge-Fr (6-2, 212)
MLB Brandon Siler-Jr (6-2, 235) Jon Demps-So (6-4, 230)
WLB Earl Everett-Sr (6-2, 231) Ryan Stamper-Fr (6-1, 228)
CB Reggie Lewis-Sr (5-10, 195) Tremaine McCollum-Sr (5-8, 175)
CB Avery Atkins-So (5-11, 189) Jermaine McCollum-Sr (5-9, 185)
SS Tony Joiner-Jr (5-11, 208) Dorian Munroe-Fr (6-0, 201)
FS Reggie Nelson-Jr (6-1, 198) Kyle Jackson-Jr (6-1, 200)
P Eric Wilbur-Sr (6-1, 203) ..




Chris Hetland will again win a few games for the Gators, and the senior has consistency from beyond the 40, maximizing confidence that he can be leaned upon at most any juncture. Holder Nick Fleming gets some KO nods, so does Jon Phillips and his huge leg. Either can sub for Hetland well. Coverage here is also strong.

Eric Wilbur averages 41+ and had 38 of his 59 tries either land inside the 20 or fair caught. Wilbur produced the nation’s ninth-best net results, a statement unto both him and the superior coverage Meyer gets from his hungry reserves.

Return Game
With this year’s incoming class boasting four players with sub-4.4 speed, let alone the stable of speedsters already there, a new punt returner will emerge and will likely improve this area. Jemalle Cornelius or Jermaine McCollum will initially be slated, but Meyer will swing with whoever has the best results in late August. Manson has the nod on KOs, but his presence on the offense could preclude the staff wanting him out there to cover kicks. It looks good for improved results, regardless, in both areas.