With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.
49 – Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL)
6’1” 229 lbs.
Quick Bio: A three-star prospect who committed to Florida late in the process, Kitchens has been productive throughout his young career. He played on the kickoff coverage team in nine of 13 games during his freshman season, registering a pair of tackles.
Career Stats (22 games): 23 tackles (nine solo, 2.5 for loss)
2011 Season: A reserve for most of the season who played on defense and special teams, Kitchens earned his first career start against Furman, a game in which he registered a team- and career-high 12 tackles. He recorded 21 tackles over 13 games including 2.5 for a loss.
2012 Outlook: Kitchens and redshirt sophomore Neiron Ball have been competing all offseason for the starting Sam linebacker job which became available when redshirt senior Lerentee McCray moved over to the Buck position. With Ball being versatile and also repping at Buck, it is possible that Kitchens will win the Sam job by default though both players will see plenty of field time in 2012.
47 – John Crofoot (Windemere, FL)
Redshirt junior kicker
5’11” 156 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: A walk-on high school kicker whose brother is also on the team, Crofoot spent his freshman year as a long snapper but did not see the field and eventually took a redshirt. He transitioned to being a kicker and holder in 2010 and played in nine games, serving as the starting holder in the final seven games. Crofoot was also Florida’s starting holder last season; the Gators’ kickers combined to go 24-for-29 on field goals and 33-for-33 on extra points.
2012 Outlook: Though redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Murphy has also held the ball during fall practice, Crofoot enters the season as the starter once again and should hold down the job for the duration of the year.
Check out five more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
46 – Drew Ferris (Carlsbad, CA)
Junior long snapper
6’1” 211 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: A highly-rated long snapper coming out of high school, Ferris took a redshirt his freshman season but was Florida’s starting long snapper in 2011.
2012 Outlook: With Christopher Guido no longer on the roster (the two competed for the job in 2011) and only one other player competing for the position, Ferris should retain his starting job this season.
44 – Leon Orr (New Port Richey, FL)
Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle
6’5″ 305 lbs.
Quick Bio: A four-star prospect who was rated as the No. 8 player in the nation at his position, Orr dressed for four games but did not play as a freshman. He practiced some at tight end and offensive lineman but transitioned back to the defensive line and took a redshirt in 2010.
Career Stats (13 games): 10 tackles (four solo, one for loss), sack, pass defense
2011 Season: Orr played extensively or the Gators last year, appearing in every game as a reserve defensive tackle and putting together an impressive performance against Kentucky in which he registered three tackles and a sack.
2012 Outlook: After having his fourth run-in with the law over 15 months in May, this time receiving a second-degree misdemeanor for driving with a suspended license, Orr made strides in the summer and fall. Head coach Will Muschamp recently named him as a guy “we can count on and win with” on the interior of the defensive line.
44 – Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN)
6’2” 199 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: An early enrollee in January 2011, Christy was one of the highest-rated punters in the nation and committed to Florida partially because of the departure of Chas Henry and the ability to play right away. He was named the starter going into practice but lost his job before the season began to senior David Lerner due to a lack of consistency. Christy did, however, win his job back and started the last seven games of the season for the Gators.
Career Stats (seven games): 30 punts for 1,227 yards (avg.: 40.9, long: 67), two touchbacks, 10 inside the 20-yard-line
2012 Outlook: Christy has continued to progress this offseason and will retain his starting job. There are no other scholarship punters on Florida’s roster.
43 – Kyle Crofoot (Windemere, FL)
Redshirt freshman long snapper
6’4″ 215 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Sesaon/2012 Outlook: On the roster since 2011, Crofoot is the second member of his family to don a Gators uniform but the fifth overall to play SEC football. He took a redshirt his freshman season and is unlikely to play this year though he will be a reserve behind Ferris at long snapper.
41 – Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, FL)
5’10” 249 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: The consensus top-rated fullback nationally coming out of high school, Joyer immediately impressed the coaching staff when the joined the team as a true freshman in 2011. He played in all 13 games on offense and special teams, earned one start and even scored a touchdown on his first career handoff.
Career Stats (13 games): 18 carries for 82 yards (avg.: 4.6, long: 23), two touchdowns
2012 Outlook: Joyer remains Florida’s starting fullback heading into the season though he will not serve in that position in every package considering how many players the Gators have looking to get playing time in the backfield this year. He will also get carries at running back and is expected to touch the ball more often this season. “It’s a huge role and I’d love to do that, love to be that person. Everyone likes to be able to touch the ball and do certain things, but I mean I’m fine with whatever the coaches ask me to do,” he said on Aug. 20.