More than once this offseason – including at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Monday – Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp called this season’s roster the most talented he’s had during his tenure at the school.
While corroborating that statement before the season is difficult considering Florida has lost a ton of top-end defenders in consecutive seasons and enters the 2014 campaign with its underwhelming specialists unchanged, the Gators certainly do possess a rebuilt stable of offensive talent.
Yet while Florida’s veteran wide receiver (redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar, incoming pass-catching tight end (redshirt senior Jake McGee) and three starting-caliber running backs (sophomore Kelvin Taylor, redshirt senior Mack Brown and redshirt junior Matt Jones) were all mentioned by the contingent in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday, it was a talent who frustrated and underwhelmed as a freshman that got the most praise.
“You heard it here first. He is that good,” sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III – a third-team Associated Press All-American, unanimous first-team Freshman All-American and unanimous first-team All-SEC nominee – said of the player.
Hargreaves was speaking to FOX Sports reporter Bruce Feldman about Florida sophomore wideout Demarcus Robison, the four-star prospect who was supposed to be a game-changer and big-time playmaker for the Gators as a freshman.
Hyped as UF’s best receiver commitment since Percy Harvin in 2006, Robinson instead began his career by dealing with two separate suspensions for violations of team rules, one which cost him the final two games of the regular season.
Muschamp even stated that Robinson needed to learn to “act right” if he wanted to continue his career and be successful at Florida.
Robinson played in just seven of the Gators’ 12 games in 2013, catching five total passes for 23 yards. He earned deserved criticism from the coaching staff and seemingly let down his teammates, which often mentioned maturity when asked why Robinson was neither seeing more time nor success on the field.
However, Robinson’s career appeared to take a different course during spring practice.
He impressed fans during open practices with flashy catches along the sideline, including some over Hargreaves, who just happens to be Florida’s best secondary player.
Redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor referred to Robinson as a “freak,” noting that he was amazed because “some of the stuff that he can do is crazy.”
After the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel called Robinson “a home run threat on every play.”
Driskel on Monday praised Robinson, whom he has worked with extensively throughout the summer in player-run practices, even further during a conversation on-air with Tom Luginbill of ESPNU.
“I think a name that a lot of people don’t know is Demarcus Robinson,” he said. “There’s a lot of hype around him in the program. He’s a guy that’s done a lot of maturing, and I think he has tremendous skill level and has the ability to be a big-time receiver in the SEC. I’m excited to throw to him.”
With that much praise coming from three team leaders in Hargreaves, Taylor and Driskel, much should be expected from Robinson this season
While it may still take a while for him to be exceptionally productive in a league as difficult as the SEC, Robinson’s ability to stay on the field and be a mature, responsible member of the Gators football program could go a long way to helping Florida and its offense bounce back from its disastrous 4-8 campaign in 2013.
Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press