As spring practice gets underway, a handful of freshmen have a chance to make an early impression on the coaching staff. Eight players have enrolled early and set out to prove they can be immediate contributors. This group of players will have an upper-hand on the other freshmen who arrive in late summer.
Nearly all the early enrollees have a chance to see the field this fall, with each one adding a new dimension to the roster. Of the eight, Javares McRoy has the biggest mountain to climb to stay away from a redshirt this fall. At 5'9" and 165 pounds, McRoy does not have the size to distinguish himself from an already loaded depth chart of small and fast receivers. Unless the Gators see major injuries at the wide receiver position, McRoy is the one most likely destined to redshirt.
Of the freshmen that that will arrive in the fall, Jabari Gorman, Marcus Roberson, JaJuan Story and Hunter Joyer will have the most to prove, and for different reasons. Gorman and Roberson were highly touted defensive backs, however, the Gators have plenty of depth in the secondary, so they will need to make an immediate impact to prove their worth With Pop Saunders arriving in the spring, he will likely have a few steps on both and will look to make the most of his opportunity.
JaJuan Story brings size to the wide receiver corps that the Gators just do not currently have. If Story can stand out in the summer, his size gives him the biggest opportunity to be eliminated from any redshirt talk. If he fails to stand out, he will be lost in the shuffle and will be forced to redshirt.
Hunter Joyer is the easy one here. The Gators have no true fullback on the roster. If Joyer shows any promise at pass blocking and protection, he will see a lot of playing time this fall. He may not get many carries or show up on any stat sheet, but he could be a real game changer for the Gators.
Jacoby Brissett will arrive in the summer and will be immediately expected to take on the third quarterback role. Once he is in camp, he will make a strong effort to move past Jeff Driskel on the depth chart, but barring injury, will likely come up just short.
Tyler Murphy will most likely move from quarterback to wide receiver this summer. There is a reason Charlie Weis showed up in Gainesville by way of West Palm Beach. If Weis liked what he saw in Murphy, there would have been no need to make the late push for Brissett. For this reason, do not look for Brissett to redshirt. The Gators will be very thin at the quarterback position and will have two true freshmen backing up John Brantley.
Since the class is relatively small already, I would not look for a lot of redshirts to be handed out. Of course, a lot will be based on injuries and how the season progresses, as Mack Brown's redshirt played out in 2010.
With all the depth in the secondary and the terrific class Urban Meyer brought in last year, many of the defensive backs in the 2011 class might be held back to balance the talent and numbers in the secondary. If that is the case, some of those highly touted freshmen may have to wait another year to make an impact for the Gators.