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Florida Football 2012 100 For 100, No. 98: Gators Are Older Than Most

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Florida's young team will be a bit less young this fall.
Florida's young team will be a bit less young this fall.

Last year, we tried 50 For 50, and got halfway done before things cropped up. This year, Alligator Army is coming back with 100 For 100, with 100 articles in the 100 days leading up to the first Florida Gators football game of the 2012 season, and will run down storylines, profile players, examine history, and make some predictions, possibly all haphazardly. The only thing we can promise is that each day's entry will bring us all one step closer to "Herrrrrrrrre ... come the Gators!"

We remember Florida's 2011 team as a young one that couldn't quite get over the hump in a lot of ways: The young defense wasn't as ferocious as it promises to be this fall, and the young secondary got torched; the young receiving corps was invisible on all but a few afternoons, and the young offensive line was rarely better than miserable.

Here's good news for 2012: Those Gators aren't so young anymore.

Phil Steele's got the rankings of teams by percentage of lettermen returning, and Florida tops the FBS list with 55 of 65 lettermen from 2011 coming back for 2012. That's 84.6 percent, better than all FBS/FCS teams but the University of Texas at San Antonio, a program in its second year.

That total isn't automatically good, of course. Florida doesn't return its starting quarterback, top two running backs, or two of its top three receivers, and it's only because the people in that accounting are John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and Deonte Thompson that we don't think those are such huge losses. (You can play this game with fellow top-five-in-returning-lettermen teams Stanford and Oregon: Andrew Luck isn't back for the Cardinal, nor is most of a great offensive line, and the Ducks lost Darron Thomas and LaMichael James.)

That said, another year under Will Muschamp can't possibly make the Gators who were often in games in 2011 worse in 2012, can it?