Five Most Important Gators of 2019
Feleipe Franks is transferring. Lucas Krull is transferring. Kyle Trask is the head of a quarterback room for the first time since junior varsity football in ninth grade. Lamical Perine didn't even eclipse 600 yards rushing this year.
And still, the Florida Gators won 10 games and have probably a New Year's Six Bowl berth on the horizon.
Who were the major players in getting the Gators there? Let's look:
5. Kicker Evan McPherson
A kicker Graham, really?
If you have been a Gator fan for numerous years, think back to when Austin Hardin was kicking field goals for the Gators early in the McElwain era. In any close game where field goals were necessary, there was a solid chance that game would not go in Florida's favor.
Now? UF has a 14-16 kicker, including 5-6 from over 40 yards. He only missed one extra point all season. When fans have good kickers, they take them for granted.
4. Cornerback C.J. Henderson
The future NFL cornerback had a few games where he struggled, but overall he churned out yet another great season. Having a corner with the lock down ability of Henderson is rare. Dominant defensive performances Florida has over good teams like Auburn largely came because of Henderson on the back end.
A solid cover corner like that allows defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to blitz heavily. We all know how fond Grantham is of the blitz, and without guys like Henderson, that is not easy to accomplish without getting beat.
3. Tight end Kyle Pitts
Pitts is just unbelievable. He is the next sexy NFL Draft prospect after Henderson. Can you believe this tight end was a four star? Especially since quarterback Kyle Trask took over the offense, Pitts has emerged as a special weapon.
Any short-yardage play on third or fourth down, the defense has to focus a bunch on Pitts. Otherwise, there is not a defensive back or linebacker that UF has played this season that can guard him one on one. Also, his enormous body makes it easier for Trask to hit him.
He is also efficient. He has five touchdowns on the season and despite often being a short-yardage weapon, he averages 12 yards a catch. The Gators get him for sure for one more season and he will be a cornerstone piece in this team's push next season as well.
2. Defensive end Jonathan Greenard
Is Greenard the best transfer pick up that Florida has ever had? Nine sacks, 41 QB pressures, 25 solo tackles, two forced fumbles, and an interception. He also has a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
What a force.
From game one against Miami, it was obvious that Greenard was different. It was obvious that he was not your typical guy in the transfer portal. Guys like him were huge pieces to wins like the Auburn game. And especially with Jabari Zuniga battling injury all season, Greenard was essential to the success of this team's defensive success and dominance.
1. Quarterback Kyle Trask
If you follow me on Twitter and read my stuff, you know that I have been critical of Trask in certain areas. You know my take on him being limited physically and being close to his ceiling.
But forget that for a second.
I must give credit where it is due, and that is at the feet of this backup high school quarterback from Manvel, Texas. Trask stepped in after the injury to Franks and was a force from the start. He surged the Gators back, down 11 in the third quarter against Kentucky on the road. His only two losses as a starter are to the two teams that will play in the SEC Championship and are in playoff contention in LSU and Georgia.
Trask was magnificent this season. He gave Florida the most offense to watch that it has had since Tim Tebow suited up. He gave Gator fans their first win in the Swamp over FSU in ten years. He gave Florida fans hope.
Trask doesn't fit Mullen's offense really at all. It didn't feel like he should ever be the guy in Gainesville.
Damn was that wrong. What a season.
He was just spectacular. I can't say enough about that guy and how he performed this year.
So, the 2019 regular season is over for the Gators, but these players looking back were cornerstones in reasons that it was as successful as it was.