The 2014 SEC Media Days are coming to an end and that means preseason picks time. Four Gators were named the the preseason All-SEC team including Vernon Hargreaves III and Dante Fowler Jr., who were both named First Team Defense. Offensive tackle Chaz Green represents the lone representative for Florida on offense, as he was selected as Third Team All-SEC. Finally, kick returner Andre Debose got the nod for preseason Second Team Specialist honors. In addition, Florida was picked to finish third in the SEC East. The Gators did not even finish in the top eight of voting for SEC Champion.
The disruptive Fowler and Freshman All-American Hargreaves lead the way for the Gators. In addition to being named First Team All-SEC by the media, both players were named to some prestigious award watch lists. Hargreaves and Fowler represent Florida on the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List, which goes to the best defensive player in the country, and the Bronco Nagurksi Trophy Watch List for the most outstanding defensive player. In addition, Hargreaves was named to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List given to the nation’s top defensive back.
Coming off of a season ending injury before getting a chance to play, Green will be key for the Gators to have success. The former Freshman All-American is paramount in keeping quarterback Jeff Driskel protected and healthy. In the two seasons which he’s played, Green has appeared in 20 games, including 19 starts. It’s interesting to see Green on the list, but not D.J. Humphries. Humphries is arguably Florida’s best offensive lineman. But both Green and Humphries were highly touted prospects coming out of high school and, if healthy, could earn their way to bigger recognition.
And then there’s Andre Debose. Debose is also coming off of a season ending injury, when he tore his ACL in fall camp. He’s shown flashes of his return ability, but has never put together a consistent season. The sixth-year senior will have a chance to add to his four kickoff return touchdowns, the most in UF-history and tied for the most in SEC history. He’s also averaging 27.8 yards per return, good for second in league history.
It’s no surprise that Florida isn’t picked to do well in the SEC after a disastrous 2013 season, but not even being considered for the SEC title is intriguing. The Gators are picked to finish third in the SEC East by a wide margin behind South Carolina and Georgia. Arkansas and Mississippi State are considered to have a better shot at the conference championship than a more talented Florida team. A lot of the Gators issues last year were due to injuries and offense. With new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, a spread offense, and healthy players, Florida could be considered a darkhorse to do what Auburn did last year and win the SEC Championship.
Where does Florida rank amongst college football’s most expensive tickets? Find out here.