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Linebacker Depth Yet Another Question Mark At UF

When it comes to recent SEC history, defensive coordinators entering their second year at a school can expect their troops to perform better than in their debut seasons in a new system.  From Nick Saban to Todd Grantham and more, the second year usually shows a nice jump.  That should be reassuring to Florida fans who are wondering what Dan Quinn and Will Muschamp — it’s his system after all — can pull out of their hats this fall.

When it comes to linebacker, Rachel George of The Orlando Sentinel says two players have emerged as “the heart of the group.”  Senior Jonathan Bostic and junior Jelani Jenkins both had solid 2011s and are expected to be as good or better in 2012.

But what about the third starting linebacker and beyond?

 

“After Bostic and Jenkins, the Gators are slim.  Lerentee McCray earned the starting spot at strongside linebacker last year but missed time because of a shoulder injury. He’ll be one of the players counted on to replace Ronald Powell at the Buck position while he recovers from ACL surgery. Mike Taylor wasn’t as productive as coaches had hoped for last season, and Graham Stewart transferred this month after one season at Florida.”

 

Florida — like most of the SEC East’s teams beyond Georgia and South Carolina — is a tough squad to read.  There is talent, but much of it is young.  It’s the second year of Muschamp’s reign, but there are still some Urban Meyer guys running around (but hopefully not running amok) on campus.

While the D-line is experienced, question marks remain at quarterback, running back, defensive back and linebacker depth.

If it all comes together, the Gators could surprise.  If not, Muschamp could be looking at a hot-seat year in 2013.

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UF’s Muschamp Does Right By Transferring Gator

Last week it was learned that true freshman Florida linebacker Graham Stewart planned to transfer.  Will Muschamp put no restrictions or limitations on the kid’s options and Stewart — a Connecticut native — has decided to play at UConn instead of for the Gators.  Florida’s coach plans on taking an extra step for Stewart as well:

 

“I’m going to petition the NCAA for him to be eligible immediately.  He’s a great kid.  A family situation occurs like that and you’re so far from home, you deserve to have that opportunity and not have any penalty for it.”

 

Muschamp said last week that Stewart told him “he wanted to leave to get closer to home due to some personal issues.”

Kudos to Florida’s coach for showing some heart.  Whether it’s Mark Richt’s open door policy for transfers or John Calipari’s desire to push his players to the pros as soon as possible, these types of stances have to help coaches on the recruiting trail.

Too bad more coaches don’t realize that.

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SEC Headlines 5/5/2012

1. Premature commenting has cost Georgia coach Mark Richt some telephone privileges.

2. If either Georgia or Clemson want to cancel their 2013-14 football series, it’s going to cost millions.

3. Florida sophomore linebacker Graham Stewart will transfer.

4. LSU fan files a lawsuit against an Alabama fan over a BCS championship post-game incident.

5. Ole Miss officials hit the road to rally and unite the fan base.

6. Former Tennessee running back Bryce Brown gets a chance at a fresh start in the NFL.

7. The city of Jacksonville wants to be a player in any expanded college football playoffs.

8, Gary Parrish: “The Kentucky-Indiana series ending is another blow to one of the things that makes college basketball fun in November and December.”

9. Kentucky coach John Calipari gets a raise and a retention bonus

Extras

10. So is new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby a puppet for conference power brokers? “I would suggest you do your homework,” he said. “I haven’t been good at being a puppet over the years.”

11. If you missed change-your-conference-affiliation-Friday – here’s your update.

12. So exactly how did the horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby get their names?

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