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.
34 – Lerentee McCray (Ocala, FL)
Redshirt senior linebacker
6’3” 249 lbs.
Quick Bio: A highly-ranked four-star prospect, McCray has moved all around the Florida defensive front seven throughout his career. He played in 11 games over his first two seasons but received a medical redshirt in 2009 only to come back in 2010 and play in 10 contests. McCray capped his redshirt sophomore season by returning a punt block for a touchdown in the Outback Bowl.
Career Stats (30 games): 40 tackles (26 solo, 8.0 for loss), 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, three pass defenses, touchdown
2011 Season: McCray missed the final four games of the season due to injury but played in the first nine contests, making five starts as the team’s primary Sam linebacker while also spending time at the Buck position. He registered 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, three pass defenses and a team-high four quarterback hurries.
2012 Outlook: Back healthy from a shoulder injury that also kept him out of spring practice, McCray was slated to start at Sam linebacker again for the Gators but shifted over to starting Buck linebacker after junior Ronald Powell tore his ACL in the spring game. McCray is one of a handful of players being counted on to improve Florida’s pass rush this season.
33 – Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA)
Redshirt sophomore running back
5’11” 214 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: One of the top running backs in the country coming out of high school, Brown was a four-star recruit who played in two games as a true freshman in 2010, carrying the ball three times for 23 yards. He broke his fibula in the spring of 2011 but was healthy enough to receive a few carries last season despite having three players in front of him on the depth chart.
Career Stats (14 games): 15 carries for 65 yards (avg.: 4.3, long: 13)
2012 Outlook: Brown is fighting for the back-up job behind senior Mike Gillislee and has been going head-to-head all offseason with freshman Matt Jones to be the second running back called on to carry the ball. Whether he wins the job or is forced to be third in line, Brown should see significant action in 2012 for the first time in his career.
Check out three more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
32 – Chris Johnson (Ocala, FL)
Sophomore running back
5’9” 202 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: A three-star prospect, Johnson joined Florida to play defensive back but was also tried out at running back and moved to linebacker in practice for depth reasons. He played mostly on special teams during his freshman season.
Career Stats (13 games): eight tackles (three solo)
2012 Outlook: Johnson was moved to running back full-time in the spring, a decision that head coach Will Muschamp said was made both for depth and due to his impressive high school tape. “He’s a tough, physical runner, runs the ball down hill,” he said. “He’s a guy that you look at physicality in running the ball. He’ll stick his face in there in protection. I’m very pleased with some of the things he’s been able to do in his limited time moving to running back.” With Gillislee, Brown, Jones and others set to get carries this season, Johnson has more recently been shifted to fullback. He is still expected to contribute plenty on special teams in addition to whatever role he has on offense.
31 – Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Junior defensive back
5’9″ 190 lbs.
Quick Bio: A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Riggs was one of six true freshman to play in all 13 games in 2010. He earned three starts (including one in the Outback Bowl) and registered 18 tackles, three pass breakups and one interception. In addition to seeing plenty of time on defense, Riggs played as a gunner on the kickoff and punt coverage teams.
Career Stats (26 games): 49 tackles (33 solo, 2.5 for loss), 0.5 sack, four pass defenses, interception
2011 Season: Riggs graduated to a near-full-time starter in 2011 as a member of a young secondary that desperately needed help at cornerback and nickel due to the unplanned departure of Janoris Jenkins. He was a solid contributor all season long and gained the necessary in-game experience that can benefit him over his final two years.
2012 Outlook: One of four players competing for two starting cornerback jobs, Riggs has also been worked out extensively at nickel and safety during fall practice. Florida is expected to use 5-6 defensive backs at any given time this season, and Muschamp expects all four competing cornerbacks (including Riggs) to be on the field for 75 percent of the snaps in a particular game.
30 – Michael McNeely (Clearwater, FL)
Sophomore wide receiver
5’8” 175 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011 Season: A walk-on, McNeely wound up dressing for 12 of 13 games and played in seven contests as a member of the kickoff unit. He won the Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Award from the coaches at the team banquet in December.
2012 Outlook: McNeely caught a 62-yard pass in the spring game and was expected to contribute to the team’s receiving corps this season before breaking his foot during practice. He will be sidelined until the beginning of October but could return to the team if healthy. “It really hurt when Mike McNeely [got injured] because he was having a good camp; that kid is going to help us,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “I feel bad for him having to get his foot fixed.”