UF has just announced that receivers Chris Dunkley and Javares McRoy will transfer, as Orlando Sentinel Gators writer Rachel George tweets. Scott Carter has more on why Dunkley and McRoy might be leaving at GatorZone, of course:
Dunkley missed spring practice due to an academic suspension and McRoy did not play in Saturday's Orange and Blue Debut. McRoy is reportedly headed to Texas Tech to play with his brother.
"It’s been a great learning experience being here at the University of Florida, but I feel like it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start somewhere else," Dunkley said in a UF release.
"I enjoyed my time at Florida, but I really want the chance to play with my brother Ben, who is at Texas Tech," said McRoy. "Florida has been very understanding and is giving me that opportunity."
Now, the initial reaction to these transfers? Uh-oh.
Pop quiz: Who was Florida's leading receiver in 2010? If you said Deonte Thompson, you are a warlock and have lifted the mental block Gator Nation seems to have on his positives. Thompson hauled in 38 receptions for 570 yards, numbers that didn't put him in the top 100 for receivers in either category. Behind him, senior Carl Moore was second on the team in yardage with 349 receiving yards, and Trey Burton (!?) was second in receptions with 32. The cupboard's not just bare beyond Thompson; it's a lot of tools of dubious quality stashed well behind the rusty, dinged-up ones that have been used for a few years. (I mean, do you have confidence that this is Thompson's year?)
The two receivers on the Gators roster most everyone seems to like are Omarius Hines and Quinton Dunbar, both guys who make up for a lack of size and explosive quickness with sure hands and athleticism that is good enough. The athlete everyone has thought — thinks? — could be great at wide receiver is Andre Debose, whose struggles with mastering the playbook and eternally nagging injuries have slowed his development; then again, some thought that about Thompson, too.
And then there's a bunch of guys who seem more serviceable than anything: Chris Rainey, who will probably see work at both wideout and running back, led the team in touchdown catches (with, uh, three) in 2010; Stephen Alli is 6'5" and could be an asset for size alone; Frankie Hammond Jr. got a DUI that one time; Robert Clark is fast, I guess; Solomon Patton had four catches last year.
For all the good that Urban Meyer's spread option did, it certainly didn't do less celestial talents at receiver — the Hammonds and Pattons of the world, not the Percy Harvins and Louis Murphys and Riley Coopers — any favors as pass-catchers. And now Charlie Weis loses Dunkley, whose speed was supposed to make him a playmaker, and McRoy, who is Rainey-sized and looked like a slot contributor sometime after his freshman year, and has to keep cobbling together a patchwork pro-style offense with fewer and fewer pieces.
This is what makes the recruitment of big, fast, physical, do-everything receivers like Florida State freshman Kelvin Benjamin and Missouri high school senior Dorial Green-Beckham important: A primary receiver that demands coverage can open up a lot of things for an offense. Without that go-to player, as the Gators seem to be, fans are left wondering if holes on the depth chart mean no ways to Swiss cheese secondaries.