QB Tim Tebow

2007 Statistics

Coach: Urban Meyer
31-8, 3 years
2007 Record: 9-4
TROY WON 59-31
at Mississippi WON 30-24
at Louisiana State LOST 24-28
at Kentucky WON 45-37
vs. Georgia LOST 30-42
at South Carolina WON 51-31
Michigan LOST 35-41

2007 Final Rankings
AP-13, Coaches-16, BCS-12

2008 Outlook

There are many differences between the championship team of 2006 and this year’s version of Gator football, but the similarities are also there and make us believe Florida has nearly as good of a shot at making the big dance this year as they did then. Remember how they emerged from the pack (started No.7 for us in 2006) after no one really thought they could be a true challenger? Well, guess what? They again have what seem to be modest expectations since they lost four games last year, even though they had the Heisman winning QB and set NCAA records in the process. Underestimating the ability of head coach Urban Meyer to produce a group that reaches its full potential would be a mistake for anyone out there who thinks what they see on paper from ’07 has any resemblance to what will be seen in ’08.

The biggest challenge will be getting the ball into the hands of all of the worthy talent, a great problem to have. But, in reality, (just enough) offensive predictability was what kept UF from again making a BCS run last year - their three regular season losses were by a combined total of 19 points, too. For an off year, that’s pretty scary. Tebow’s an offensive phenom, with the rare combination of being both an intimidating fullback and a steady passer. Most were afraid he wouldn’t be able to take the punishment as a starting QB, but he delivers more punishment to would-be tacklers than they have even come close to delivering to him (he played injured for much of the year to also prove his durability). Marking him every play is nearly impossible with Harvin, James, and too many others to also keep track of, so the sky is the limit for point scoring if all stay healthy. On defense, they will score points too (with this much speed once turnovers are created). Brandon Spikes, already on the Lombardi watch list, will get his due after proving much during his first year of starting. The names and superlatives are just too many to list for the stopping unit, but they will have their work cut out to pare their secondary numbers down. Otherwise, it will be a shame if the passing D again cannot hold its end up. That isn’t expected with the guys we see, so eight starters returning to form this defense around should do the trick on all levels.

The biggest game for ’08 might have been the second one with Miami, but the Canes won’t be the same again yet, so this rivalry will wait until 2013 to truly be renewed. Hawai’i also is not what it might have been without June Jones there anymore, so it is the SEC side of things that, like usual, will make or break the season. LSU has a lot of talent, but with their QB scene unresolved - like Tennessee’s - neither is the biggest game for UF. The Georgia game is. Always a great border rivalry, the game is played in Jacksonville and will be one of the top games in all of college football for 2008. It will probably decide the division winner, the SEC winner, and possibly one of the two participants in the title game in Miami. Kentucky is not an easy game, anymore, and FSU is likely to rebound at anytime, and they always play the Gators tough, as does former coach Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks (home game). The Gators almost always have one of the nation’s toughest schedules, but if you play the best, you can be the best, another similarity with the 2006 team. Only foolish coaches will fail to see this team coming from way far away, a mistake Ohio State made in 2006 but one that few will make again. No matter, for Florida is good enough to take what they feel is theirs and not wait for the college football gods to hopefully deliver in the form of others failing. When the Gators start to hit on all cylinders, this will become another Meyer-led group of assassins no one will want to see in January.

Projected 2008 record: 10-2
QB - 5 DL - 3.5
RB - 4 LB - 4
WR - 4.5 DB - 3
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Tim Tebow, 234-350-6, 3286 yds., 32 TD

Rushing: Tim Tebow, 210 att., 895 yds., 23 TD

Receiving: Percy Harvin, 59 rec., 858 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Tim Tebow, 23 TD, 138 pts.

Punting: Chas Henry, 37 punts, 39.3 avg.


Tackles: Brandon Spikes, 131 tot., 81 solo

Sacks: Jermaine Cunningham, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Wondy Pierre-Louis, 2 for 47 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns:
Brandon James, 30 ret., 28.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Brandon James, 14 ret., 18.1 avg., 1 TD


LB Brandon Spikes
OFFENSE: Andre Caldwell-WR, Eric Rutledge-HB, Drew Miller-C, Carlton Medder-OT, Joey Ijjas-K
DEFENSE: Clint McMillan-DT, Tony Joiner-SS, Kyle Jackson-FS, Derrick Harvey-DE (NFL)

- Contributing writer Gene Rice

For those of you who still don’t know the name Dan Mullen, you haven’t figured out the ‘other guy’ who pulls the offensive string with Urban Meyer. He’s been with Meyer for the last four stops, so their bond is tight, and the ability for that to translate into on-the-field results happens in a way few can match. Last year, they produced their first Heisman winner, and with possibly the highest level of offensive talent in the nation from top to bottom, the experience they bring back makes them an automatic contender for any/everything the Gators are up for. This is ‘Spread Football 101’ being taught in Gainesville. Speed and execution is key, and they will have way too much of each.

Back for sure since he will be a junior, Tebow is the consummate hurler who can run both over and by you, or just hit a target dead-on 30 yards downfield. Tebow was second in efficiency as he set the all-time NCAA record for most TDs (responsible for) in one season, 55 (32 passing and 23 rushing). His feet are always moving when he has the ball; well, every now and then, he stands in the pocket and delivers in the traditional QB style. Otherwise, the lateral fakes and multiple developments in each play have been mastered by the Philippine-born giant since his first championship-winning season. He throws on the run well and makes good decisions when things get hairy – he knows when to call his own number and just hit a visible hole. Tebow’s first steps when he hits the hole are deceptively quick; you see guys just missing him and/or being run over by his fullback running style all of the time (benches 400+). To touch on backup QB Cameron Newton, it is a shame he is behind the best in the land, but he is ready to show of his similar talents (in other words, the offense skips no beats when he is inserted).

The Gators still run a bastardized (but worthy) version of the running option, too. This is where we introduce you to Percy Harvin and Brandon James, two Preseason All-Americans we feel will keep defenses from cheating on Tebow, which just helps everyone else, accordingly. Either Harvin or James can be found any/everywhere when the Gators come up to the line of scrimmage. Harvin was the top recruit for the entire nation (Rivals), and his 4.35 speed works in pads. He finished second on the team in rushing in ’07 despite having 21 less carries than true RB Kestahn Moore. Also a junior, James hides behind his beefy linemen (5’6) and suddenly breaks out of the pack. Like Harvin, he is a recipient of those crazy pitches from Tebow when the option is run…but James needs more touches than the mere 32 he got on offense last year. If there is one critique we stress for Meyer/Mullen on offense, it is that they need to keep all of the talent they have busy with enough reps/touches so defenses are always guessing. The combo of Tebow/Harvin/Caldwell (now departed WR) was most of what was employed for ball-handling in ‘07, and the better defenses that knew this fact stopped the Gators more consistently and won their contests. Names like little Chris Rainey (156lbs of lightning), USC-transfer Emmanuel Moody (Freshman All-American and Pac Ten Offensive Freshman of the Year – Sporting News) and Jeff Demps (No.1 Home-run threat – Rivals) mean spreading the rock around is a must.

The receivers feature Louis Murphy now that stalwart Caldwell has finally departed (all-time career leader in receptions, which is no small claim here). A favorite of Tebow’s since both were fresh-faced in 2006, Murphy is a senior leader, and Riley Cooper will soon have a prominent role, also, after his 22.8 ypc average and three TDs in just eight total catches proved he is a must as (at least) a third receiver. Ex-QB Jarred Fayson left in the off-season. Aaron Hernandez (TE) and David Nelson (great downfield blocker) also have a place in their multiple-WR sets, but the two new guys to look out for are RS frosh Deonte Thompson, reported to be the fastest of all the fleet-footed Gators (three-straight 4.28 second 40-yard times at Scout.com combine) and big Carl Moore, a five-star JUCO-transfer who was the No.2 overall small-school player available at any position. Also on the track team, Thompson figures to find a prominent place amongst the swamp of talent. As if it isn’t enough for defenders to have to deal with, Cornelius Ingram is their senior tight end who finished with the highest yards-per-catch average for Gators with at least 10 catches. It’s just too much for opponents to mark every possible serious weapon.

All that is needed is a solid line to make it all work. The left side looks solid with Jim Tartt at guard and Jason Watkins at tackle – Watkins started all 13 games last year and knows the ropes, as does all-conference Tartt and his 29 career starts. But these seniors are the old, respected echelon…the new blood Meyer has attracted will make this offense really hum. Maurkice Pouncey started enough as a true freshman that his trial-by-fire will pay dividends at right guard. Mobile soph Marcus Gilbert is the logical starter at right tackle, a vaunted spot since Tebow is a lefty. That leaves the vacancy at center – big Carl Johnson has a lock on it if they want him to, but the “Pancake Man’s” ability to play any position along the line might preclude him from staying there for long if there are injuries. Mike Pouncey (Maurkice’s twin) is also slated to get a look there after playing DT last year, but rumors in spring have it that Maurkice may be the choice at center. Whoever winds up playing OL, this will be the best the Gators have looked up front in 10 years.

In an off year, UF still led the NCAA in third-down conversion percentage (53.4) and they were T-4th in sacks allowed, not bad for the former champions. If Florida can build even slightly on 2007’s strong offensive results, they should have an unstoppable force by mid-season that will keep defenders looking silly as the Gators out-scheme and out-play them.


WR Percy Harvin


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Tim Tebow-Jr (6-3, 232) Cameron Newton-So (6-5, 246)
RB Kestahn Moore-Sr (5-10, 206)
Brandon James-Jr (5-6, 179)
Emmanuel Moody-So (5-11, 206)
Chris Rainey-Fr (5-9, 167)
WR Deonte Thompson-So (5-11, 188) David Nelson-Jr (6-5, 197)
Riley Cooper-Jr (6-3, 209)
WR Percy Harvin-Jr (5-11, 178) Justin Williams-So (6-0, 192)
WR Louis Murphy-Sr (6-1, 195) Carl Moore-Jr (6-4, 223)
TE Cornelius Ingram-Sr (6-4, 223) Aaron Hernandez-So (6-3, 250)
OT Phil Trautwein-Sr (6-6, 301) Marcus Gilbert-So (6-6, 308)
OG Jim Tartt-Sr (6-3, 300) Maurice Hurt-So (6-2, 319)
C Maurkice Pouncey-So (6-5, 312) Cory Hobbs-So (6-3, 298)
OG Mike Pouncey-So (6-5, 309) James Wilson-Fr (6-4, 308)
OT Jason Watkins-Sr (6-6, 298) Carl Johnson-So (6-5, 343)
K Caleb Sturgis-Fr (5-10, 186) Jonathan Phillips-Sr (5-11, 207)



The reason Florida did not repeat as champions was because of the nine new starters on this side of the ball last year. The results suffered due to inconsistency in their group efforts, though, individual development was immense and national statistical rankings prove that eight returning starters will make this a feared unit once again. If the Gators could finish 10th in rushing D with three new linemen and all new linebackers, just imagine how good they can be with two DLmen returning and all of the starting LBs also back…wow!

Jermaine Cunningham is the senior cornerstone for reconstructing the front four. Can he replace the production of Harvey? Well, he had 15 more tackles than the early departee (NFL), nearly as many sacks (6.5 for Cunningham and 8.5 for Harvey), and he even had an interception. He can handle the wear-and-tear of starting every game and playing almost every snap. Cunningham’s 17 tackles against LSU show he is a big-time player. The new end looks to be either Carlos Dunlap, a soph who was the No.1 weakside DE in 2006’s class (Rivals) and/or Justin Trattou, who started in the Capitol One Bowl for UF and had huge numbers in his limited reps last campaign. The ends don’t go as deep as other positions do here, but if these three (or even just two) can stay healthy, this area will not lower the bar of expectations for Meyer. Inside, the ever-tough Javier Estopinan is but again trying to rehab from an ACL (three in three years since arriving); he sat out spring, but Meyer is confident that if anyone can return from being dealt this much bad luck, it is the South Miami product. He would be nice to have, but we think there is enough talent otherwise to construct a killer group. Torrey Davis is the former No.2 DT recruit, while Buford’s (GA) Omar Hunter is this classes’ No.2 guy for the position. Davis played and had three TFLs in his eight tackles, promising numbers to say the least. Hunter arrives this fall, but he is projected to play as a true frosh with his amazing speed for his size (4.7 in the 40). John Brown, who red-shirted, should emerge into the two-deep, and Brandon Antwine will create a solid rotation that will not lack after it is broken-in. This line will have the kind of speed seen here when the Waterford Crystal Trophy resided on campus.

The linebackers will pick up where they left off, intimidating opposing QBs and flanking out onto extra receivers to great effect. Monster Brandon Spikes has moved into his MLB slot so well that he is a Second Team All-American for us this preseason. Spikes is the heart and soul of the defense. His ability to read plays and get to ball carriers is innate and superior, and is why he had 81 solo tackles (T-8th nationally). Classmate Dustin Doe was the best freshman Gator (most tackles) on D in 2006; all he has to do is step up a little bit and he will be at the same high caliber as Spikes. A.J. Jones is the incumbent at the other spot, but Brandon Beal, an early enrollee and this classes’ No.6 prospect (4.3 GPA), and rush end-LB hybrid William Green, the No.7 prospect, will be breathing down his neck with many others if Jones cannot produce like a Gator LB should. Ryan Stamper, John Jones, Jerimy Finch and Brandon Hicks are the first in line to see the field on game-days, though, since they were oft-used reserves in last year’s alignments. This corps will be one the Gator LB ghosts would be proud of – quick, smart and able to move as an effective unit together.

The starters at corner for this secondary had many tough days last year since the Gator run stopping did its job so well. The best corner will be starter Joe Haden, a lock-down type who led the team in passes broken-up (12). Wondy Pierre-Louis seemed overmatched at times, leaving us to think guys like Jacques Rickerson, Janoris Jenkins, Ahmad Black and Jeremy Brown might possibly take his starting slot. Our insiders say Jenkins will be the man. The wealth of amazing possibilities at safety is great. Replacing Joiner has many fans happy since he was often a marginal liability. Major Harris won the starting spot over senior Kyle Jackson and promptly won (true) Freshman All-American honors from everyone. Dorian Munroe made the academic honor role and plays just as smart, but the odds of him holding off the nation’s No.1 athlete in this year’s class, Will Hill, are slim if Hill is everything they say. New safety coach Chuck Heater should help turn the DBs up a notch. The DL getting to the opposing QB a second faster this year will help the secondary’s results directly, and once the back seven fills in with any new faces, this group will stop the pass nearly as well as they did in the BCS title year (4th in pass efficiency defense in 2006). UPDATE: Safety Dorian Munroe has been lost for season after tearing his ACL in right knee.

Areas needing attention are third-down conversions allowed (41%) and, if the LSU game is something fans can finally deal with, fourth-down conversions (Tigers went 5-for-5 and won the game this way). Speed like this, from top to bottom, isn’t found in many other schools, if any. If injuries keep them deep, this D could be the best in the nation.


DE Jermaine Cunningham


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Carlos Dunlap-So (6-6, 290) Justin Trattou-So (6-4, 248)
DT Troy Epps-Jr (6-0, 276) Terron Sanders-So (6-2, 285)
DT Lawrence Marsh-So (6-4, 285) Jaye Howard-So (6-3, 262)
DE Jermaine Cunningham-Jr (6-3, 241) Duke Lemmens-So (6-4, 238)
SLB A.J Jones-So (6-1, 213) John Jones-So (6-2, 205)
MLB Brandon Spikes-Jr (6-3, 245) Ryan Stamper-Jr (6-1, 231)
WLB Dustin Doe-Jr (6-0, 211) Brandon Hicks-So (6-2, 207)
CB Wondy Pierre-Louis-Jr (6-0, 182) Markihe Anderson-Jr (5-10, 176)
CB Joe Haden-So (5-11, 180) Jacques Rickerson-So (5-10, 172)
SS Ahmad Black-So (5-9, 177) Jamar Hornsby-So (6-2, 198)
Dorian Munroe-Jr (5-11, 202) (inj.)
FS Major Wright-So (6-0, 194) Will Hill-Fr (6-2, 203)
P Chas Henry-So (6-4, 204) ..




It’s open competition for the vacant placekicking slot, and incoming frosh Caleb Sturgis looks like the shizz if he can out-duel the other four candidates (Jonathan Phillips is the main guy he has to displace). Sturgis hitting four 62-yard attempts in a scrimmage this spring made Meyer giddy. Punter Chas Henry will throw his hat into that ring, too, though, his value as a guy who can assure that over half of his punts are fair-caught is his priority. Net punt results were ninth in the nation in ’07, a reflection of the amazing DB and LB reserves soon to hit their collective strides on the two-deep. The newbies that have to earn their stripes this year should prove to deliver the same quality of results. Brandon James is our First Team All-American punt returner and pulls double duty as KR man, too. He is amazing at both, but could his health be endangered taking so many open-field hits? Deonte Thompson should get some touches as another return guy for this reason.