- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. We’ll look at 2013, of course, but also try and give you a peek beyond next season, too. Today is guard/center. We will profile tight end on Jan. 15.
Two-deep: With the graduation of sixth-year senior James Wilson, redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker and redshirt junior Max Garcia will compete for the starting job at left guard. Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio will return as starters at center and right guard, respectively. Both will be redshirt seniors. Redshirt senior Kyle Koehne and Ian Silberman, provided his shoulder injury is healed, are the reserves.
High-profile commits: Cameron Dillard (Canton, Mich./Canton) and Octavius Jackson (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County) are a pair of four-star recruits. The ideal situation would be for both to redshirt, although the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Dillard is more ready to contribute as a freshman than the 6-6, 316-pound Jackson.
Additional targets: None.
Looking into 2013: The center of UF’s line got much tougher and stronger last season, which was evidenced by the better running attack (188.1 yards per game) and the way they handled elite defensive fronts like LSU and Florida State. But this area struggled in pass protection, especially against delayed blitzes. It’ll be interesting to see if the Gators begin spring practice with Dunker at left guard or Garcia. Garcia is the more experienced player, having started 12 games at tackle at Maryland in 2011, but Dunker was signed to pair with Humphries on the left side. Garcia is more suited to playing inside and the Gators are set at tackle with Humphries, Chaz Green and Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore. Koehne can play every spot on the line but isn’t anything more than an average player. Silberman has battled injuries and hasn’t gotten on the field much except as part of the Gators’ jumbo package. Harrison and Halapio should be entrenched at their spots and are solid in the run game. The pass protection has to improve, especially with the uncertainty at receiver.
2dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough