There are 27 days until Florida's football opener against Florida Atlantic on September 3. Check out Alligator Army's 50 For 50 series for more of our 50 reasons to be excited for Florida football in 2011.
Okay, yes, we all understand that Andre Debose is not about to become the second coming of Percy Harvin. (Probably.) But Scott Carter's got a feature on Debose that is just enough to get me hoping that Andre Debose could be one of many breakout Gators in 2011. In any case, I like this attitude.
"I love the way it is now instead of always being 'the man' and always having everybody with their eye on you," Debose said. "I love being under the radar."
After the jump, five Gators on offense and defense who could break out in 2011 — and what their breakout seasons might look like.
- Andre Debose: Fleet receiver could go from game-changing returner to game-breaking player if he can master Charlie Weis' playbook and stay healthy. Breakout Symptoms: Debose could add a few touchdowns in the passing game to his dynamic return efforts.
- Quinton Dunbar: Maybe the most complete receiver Florida has, Dunbar could become the reliable chain-mover receiver the Gators haven't had in a while. (Aaron Hernandez doesn't count.) Breakout Symptoms: 40-50 catches and a healthy number of big plays.
- Xavier Nixon: Nixon has the size and skills to be a dominant left tackle, and he's got enough experience to handle some of the SEC's savvy pass-rushers now. Breakout Symptoms: Relative quiet against some of the conference's beasts; fending off Jadeveon Clowney, for example.
- Jeff Demps: You know Demps has never had more than 750 rushing yards in a season, right? If he's healthy all year, he should have a chance to leave that number in the dust. Breakout Symptoms: 1,000 yards sounds like a nice round number. Around seven yards per carry would be nice, too.
- John Brantley: Oh, come on. It could happen. At least, Brantley should look slightly less like a catfish in a sun-baked pond in 2011. Breakout Symptoms: 3,000 yards, 20 touchdowns.
- Matt Elam: If Elam's going to be the next great Florida safety, breaking out in 2011 with a painfully young secondary around him would be a good start. Breakout Symptoms: Three to five interceptions and three to five plays that remind you of Reggie Nelson, Ahmad Black, or Major Wright.
- Sharrif Floyd: Floyd's blend of speed and size has some folks expecting him to disrupt as both a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. I would settle for one or the other. Breakout Symptoms: 10-15 combined tackles for loss and sacks.
- Jelani Jenkins: Cerebral, quick, and relentless, Jenkins has what a linebacker in the SEC needs to make plays in run support and coverage. Breakout Symptoms: 75+ tackles, 10 combined tackles for loss and sacks.
- Marcus Roberson: Either the Gators' unproven corners will get roasted, or someone will survive the trial by fire. Early word is that Roberson may well be able to do the latter. Breakout Symptoms: I don't know, a few interceptions? Not cursing when the ball is thrown at his receiver?
- Ronald Powell: Scary, right? Having the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2010 as an afterthought for a breakout season? Powell should be a lot more comfortable in Will Muschamp's system than he was in 2010, though. Breakout Symptoms: Some sacks, some tackles for loss. But mostly havoc.