Projecting the Florida Gators 2020 Fall Camp OL Depth Chart
After what feels like the longest offseason in recent memory, the Florida Gators are set to kick off their fall football camp on Aug 7, however, they will not be traditional, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.
According to Dellenger, camps will be held starting Friday with walk-thru only (no ball/pads), with a 14 hours per week rule. The first practice is set to begin Aug. 17 with 25 practices while adhering to 20 hours per week rule.
Until then, we'll be projecting the Gators' depth chart, position by position to familiarize fans with the roster that head coach Dan Mullen and staff yield this year. We have already gone over the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
Now, it's time to take a look at perhaps the team's most important position group, aside from quarterback, offensive line.
The Gators enter the year with a revamped offensive line, at least somewhat. Last season, the team fielded several various offensive line configurations with their earliest including left tackle Stone Forsythe, left guard Brett Heggie, center Nick Buchanan, right guard Chris Bleich and right tackle Jean Delance.
By season's end, the team looked vastly different featuring Forsythe at left tackle, left guard Richard Gouraige, Buchanan at center, Heggie at right guard and Delance at right tackle. Then-freshman offensive lineman Ethan White also earned plenty of snaps at guard on the day.
Since then, the Gators have lost Bleich (transfer, Syracuse) and Buchannan (graduated), while adding a graduate-transfer in guard Stewart Reese.
Today, we will break up the offensive line into two groups, five starters, and three top reserves.
Left Tackle - Richard Gouraige
As a redshirt freshman last season, Gouraige came into his own, ultimately appearing in all 12 games, making five starts at left guard.
While Forsythe would typically hold this position down as the starting left tackle, the Gators could make a switch due to Delance falling out of the team's favor late last season. During the team's bowl game against Virginia, Gouraige split time between left guard and left tackle, perhaps an early look at what could ultimately be his final landing spot.
A real technician, Gouraige should be able to make the transition to tackle seamlessly considering how much time he spent at the position last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Gouraige played a total of 109 snaps at left tackle, including the 38 snaps he played at the position during the team's bowl game.
While nothing on the offensive line is set in stone, don't be surprised to see Gouraige start every game this season - barring injury, at left tackle.
Left Guard - Ethan White
Due to multiple changes, including Heggie's move to center this year and Reese's eventual placement into the starting lineup at right guard, White projects as the team's perfect player for the left guard position.
Last season, the true freshman earned plenty of playing time, appearing in six games, including starting at right guard against Vanderbilt. On the year, White would play a total of 197 snaps, including 31 snaps at left guard and 166 snaps at right guard.
White is a big, mauling guard who also presents fantastic athleticism for a player of his size. Prior to landing at Florida, White entered his first spring camp at a massive 390 pounds, something that strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage and White started immediately to change. Since then, he's lost 60 pounds or more pounds and entering the best shape of his brief playing career.
Entering his sophomore season, White will almost absolutely be in the starting lineup in some fashion, it simply remains to be seen where offensive line coach Tim Brewster and head coach Dan Mullen would like to place him.
Center - Brett Heggie
Heggie, the team's starting guard - both left and right - last season will be taking over for a veteran in Buchanan who manned the center position for the entirety of 2019, never missing a snap.
After playing 766 total snaps, 415 at left guard and 351 at right guard, Heggie will have to learn some new responsibilities that come with being a center on Florida's offensive line. Essentially as the quarterback of the offensive line, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Heggie will be making plenty of calls for protections and making sure his linemen are in unison.
Right Guard - Stewart Reese
The team's projected starting right guard, Reese transferred to Florida earlier this offseason from Mississippi State. Given the familiarity he already has with Mullen and his staff, it should make for an easy transition for the fifth-year player.
Starting 34 total games, including 27 starts at right tackle over three years of playing time, and seven starts at right guard, Reese is a versatile player, able to adjust if need be. The Gators will likely start Reese out at right guard, with the added ability to flex him outside at right tackle if need be.
Right Tackle - Stone Forsythe
Due to the team's challenges at right tackle late last year, Forsythe was able to get valuable snaps at the position over Delance, who was at that point relegated to a reserve role for the team.
In total, Forsythe played 868 snaps, including 779 snaps at left tackle and 88 snaps at right tackle. Of those 88 snaps at right tackle, Forsythe played 70 of those snaps through the final three weeks of the season.
Heading into 2020, it should not come as much of a surprise that the Gators would like to continue shaking up their offensive line group in an effort to find the best possible configuration, one they may have found (sans a couple of players), late in the team's bowl game victory over Virginia.
Swing Tackle - Jean Delance
Projecting the team's immediate backup at left tackle is rather difficult, ultimately if there were to be an injury with Gouraige, Forsythe would take over leaving Delance to bounce back at right tackle.
Falling out of favor with the coaching staff late last season due to his performance, Delance will likely be relegated to the team's swing tackle role. With plenty of experience at the position, including 780 snaps at right tackle for the team last season.
The Gators may not have a true swing tackle with experience on the roster currently, however, Delance makes the most sense to give the duties - at least for now.
Guard - Joshua Braun
As an incoming freshman, it's tough to place Braun as one of the team's top reserves, however, he comes into Gainesville after signing as an early-enrolee out of Suwannee (Live Oak, Fla.). As a four-star composite player, Braun at 6-foot-6, 356 pounds has the pedigree to begin playing early, although his position remains to be seen.
For now, projecting Braun at guard makes the most sense, playing the young freshman at one position throughout fall camp will allow for his development to take shape rather than fitting him in at tackle - he played both position groups in high school.
Here is a snippet from Braun's Sports Illustrated - AllGators signee profile:
Given Florida's run blocking struggles in 2019, Braun's strengths as a run blocker could lead to early playing time or at least the opportunities to compete for a role. It would be surprising if Braun earned a redshirt for his 2020 season.
His current skill-set and size best translate to guard, but offensive line coach John Hevesy can get creative with Braun's development and place him just about anywhere.
Center - Griffin McDowell
There really is no such thing as a swing center, however, if one fits the profile perhaps it's Griffin McDowell.
At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, McDowell has the size profile to project as the team's backup center or a guard position. As a redshirt sophomore heading into 2020, McDowell made an appearance in 13 games last year as a reserve offensive lineman, playing seven snaps at left guard.
As a composite three-star prospect out of Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.), McDowell played center throughout his career and projects there as a collegiate athlete.