Florida freshmen wideouts still works in progress

By Adam Silverstein
November 19, 2013

“It’s not, ‘Add water, instant player,’” is one of Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s favorite lines, something he often says when discussing how far most freshmen normally need to come from a development perspective before being capable of stepping onto a college football field.

Florida’s five-player freshman wide receiver class is apparently no exception to Muschamp’s slogan. At least not this season.

Despite the Gators being in desperate need of serious playmaking talent along the outside, the team has gotten very little out of some of its youngest wideouts.

Only three of the five have played this season with those that have totaling 18 receptions, 128 yards and one touchdown through 10 games.

“Everybody hears about how these kids are graded out in recruiting and everything is pretty at that time. But when you get in the game going against corners that are experienced in this league and defenses that are big and fast, you get lost sometimes in coverage,” explained offensive coordinator Brent Pease on Tuesday.

“You just got to compete. You’ve got to play faster … until you really have the strength to dominate somebody.”

Ahmad Fulwood, a four-star prospect out of Jacksonville, FL, is leading the charge with 11 receptions for 92 yards and the score, an impressive grab that came to Saturdays ago in Florida’s loss to Vanderbilt.

“Ahmad has come on and put himself into the rotation and done a good job,” Pease said. “What I see from him is he’s finally catching up to the speed of the game and gotten more consistent catching.”

Not having seen the field until that Vanderbilt game, Gainesville, FL native Chris Thompson, a three-star recruit offered late in the cycle, has only played sparingly but is nevertheless earning some praise of his own.

“I think Chris Thompson, you know, he’s not on the field as much but what he’s doing in practice and how he’s playing the game now is good,” Pease said. “He’s improved, and it’s hard to kind of replace Solo in there at times, but [I’m] happy with what Chris is doing. He’s catching the ball well. He’s running well, playing fast and you can see some explosiveness.”

Unfortunately for the Gators, Demarcus Robinson, a highly-regarded four-star prospect from Fort Valley, GA who was termed by many to be Florida’s most important 2013 recruit, has underwhelmed in a major way.

He has only held onto five balls for 23 total yards on the season, and Pease did not mince words when providing his evaluation of Robinson.

“Demarcus is inconsistent,” he said. “It’s just a situation where he’s got to continue to improve and get comfortable and understand what he’s being taught fundamentally.”

Alvin Bailey and Marqui Hawkins are both developmental players heading for redshrits, guys that Pease hopes can contribute for the Gators as soon as next season. Also still trying to figure things out is redshirt freshman Latroy Pittman, a member of the Class of 2012 who was suspended the first three games of the season and only has one reception on the year.

“When he’s been in there he’s done a good, consistent job. He’s starting to play the game faster. I think he’s just playing with more confidence, so it’s a matter of getting him in in those situations,” said Pease of Pittman. “I think he’s got a higher ceiling. I don’t think he’s reached it by any means. I think he’s got a long ways to go with consistency and being able to play.”

Where Pease said the younger players have helped the most is in pushing some of the upperclassmen to be more consistent and hold onto their jobs. But he also echoed Muschamp in that freshmen wideouts are often developmental players and most of them simply do not contribute as much as one would hope early in their careers.

“You know, as a receiver, it’s easy to understand what you have to do. Then the part where you got to become better is if coverages are changing on you,” he explained.

“It’s just not run this route, because sometimes you run through zones, you’re going to get nailed. You need to know if it’s man, how you stem your routes, how you break your routes, where the windows are, who you’re beating. So you’ve got to understand the other side of the game as much as what your assignment is.”


  1. Keith says:

    Definitely not if you’re not even willing to at least throw it down the field to them just to see what they got..

    Until these coaches change their mind set on the throwing the ball, I dont care how talented they are, could go to waste at UF

    • Joe says:

      Umm, don’t forget you need an experienced passing QB to throw 5 and 7 step routes. We do not have one on our roster. They go hand in hand.

      • Joe says:

        …and an O-line that can protect against the pass rush. We have neither, so…..

      • nugent1021 says:

        Trying to keep it Alvarez style, but you’re making it tough. That argument doesn’t work. Missouri and Vanderbilt both had freshman QBs. They tore us up. Any one of our linemen were higher ranked recruits than any of theirs, I’d be willing to bet.

        Go GATORS.

    • Alex says:

      So many incredible offensive game planners out here on the internet. If we had OC Keith, we’d be throwing 60 passes a game and winning by 50!

      • obgator says:

        I know you are just joking…but if you take a look at the stats and the results on the field, I wouldn’t be surprised if you, Keith or I did a better job with these guys. Injuries, handcuffing, or whatever excuse you’d like to use can justify a down year, but two years of this horrendous offense means something else is wrong.

        Considering the caliber of players and the resources we have, the problem seems to be the philosophy. Sure, the execution is piss poor, but even if you execute a middle dive to perfection, unless two defenders miss a routine tackle, you look like an idiot for trying to five yards when it’s 3rd and 8 and you need a TD.

        We run to set up more runs instead of executing a proper play action pass. We continually run the wildcat and it gets stuffed (except the two times Burton actually gives the ball up). We run a sweep to the short side of the field and the runner runs out of green grass. The philosophy is all wrong. I’m sure Muschamp is a defensive genius, but either Pease has no idea what he is doing (his past record shows this may be true) or he is severely handcuffed.

        Long story short, we need a fundamental change of philosophy on offense.

  2. TST says:

    TY Adam ..Good stuff !

  3. SJ210 says:

    Just for kicks, I went to stats.ncaa.org to check out our 2013 offensive rankings. It’s worse than I thought. Keep in mind this is out of 123 teams:
    Total offense 111, Scoring offense 110, Passing offense 102, Rushing offense 82, Red Zone offense 118, Turnover margin 79, First Downs 97, Penalties 118.
    I have a feeling the 2011-2012 stats aren’t much different. I’m beginning to think we could pull a guy off a message board who could produce better results.

  4. G2 says:

    Many 4 star receivers come in and play right away, make big catches, and help the offense, etc. The last couple of years out guys are on the bench, and when they do finally get in the game half way into the season still don’t look ready.
    Something is very wrong here, is it evaluating talent, coaching, lack of a qb, bad play calling, or all of the above??
    There is no excuse for this. Look at KT, he’d probably still be on the bench if MJ was didn’t get hurt.

    • Gators22 says:

      The best friend of a young quarterback and iffy offensive line is a tight end, especially with lack of bigtimes linebackers in the SEC this year. I get that we’re trying to use them to aid in blocking, but we have several capable players at that position, including Kent Taylor, the no. 1 rated TE in the country in 2012.

  5. SWFL Joe says:

    No excuse why our highly recruited early enrollees are not contributing by now. I thought our problems were position coaches but there is now way Davis, Joker, Lewis, White and Leak are all this incompetent that we should rank so low in every offensive category the NCAA has. I would love to see Pease canned and let somebody else try there hand at OC before season’s end.

  6. Gators22 says:

    Tim Couch was the highest regarded passing QB in the country 15 years ago, and Kentucky’s OC stubbornly had him running the option and getting hammered every down by guys like Jevon Kearse. Similar story with Troy Aikmen at Oklahoma. After Miami broke his leg, he wised up and transferred to UCLA and an offense that was more suitable.

    Those were two of the most talented players you’ll ever find, but both were stuck with an OC who only knew one way to approach coaching them. The good ones are smart enough to realize that you have to evaluate the strengths of individual players and adjust to put them in a position to succeed, and way to mask weaknesses, such as an average OL.

    There’s nothing wrong with our freshman WR’s. They didn’t suddently become bad! They just need to be put in a position to make plays, and they will.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      That is what Meyer did so well. He would modify his offensive philosophy to fit his current personnel, he wouldn’t force the personnel into a package they weren’t suited for

  7. Will W says:

    Well – this is all just a mess isn’t it? Those numbers should look mighty tasty to a top athlete/WR. And a QB like Grier? Always have to think of the upside fellas!

    Here’s to more Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football in 2014! GO GATORS!

  8. panhandle gator says:

    Not the OC’s fault!

    1.) The OL hasn’t been good
    2.) The receivers are inconsistent
    3.) We don’t have any TE’s to throw to
    4.) Penalties are all bogus calls
    5.) Meyer left NO talent….we’ve come a LONG ways to address that.
    6.) Did i mention injuries

    Lower your expectations….next year a Shrieveport of Nashville bowl is a very real possibility…..get a grip!

    We’re getting better and better 😉

  9. GatorKen says:

    People who defend our passing attack are just lost. “we need an experienced QB” uhhh we didn’t throw it down field much with Driskel or Murphy. routes that are 15-25 yards are just non existent in our offense.

    If we had an OL….. That OL is no where near as bad as defenders of Pease/Champ claim. They give time and when you don’t throw the ball more than 5 yards then the defense just puts all 11 in the box and laughs at the idiots calling the shots.

  10. GatorKen says:

    Anyone else think a guy named Steve would have at least 2-3 of these guys out there wowing the SEC?

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