Projecting the Gators 2020 Spring Offensive Line Depth Chart
After previously covering the skill positions of quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end, for the Gators spring roster, it is now time to project the depth chart for the offensive line unit here on AllGators’.
Going into this spring, the Florida offensive line has a much different look than it did last year at this time. With experience running rampant throughout the group now compared to this time last year, it allows the staff to shift spring focus from fundamentals to more complex principles needed to compete with the best of the best.
With the return of four starters for the Gators offensive line, they are in a good spot going into the 2020 season. Despite losing an essential player on the line in center Nick Buchanan, the Gators have the chance to pick up right where they left off at the end of last season.
With growing chemistry among the starting unit and three early enrollees in the spring, Florida is in prime position to have a stout offensive line given the experience and talent upfront.
With that being said, let’s dive into what each position will look like to kick off 2020 preparation on the line.
1. Stone Forsythe
To start the depth chart outlook, we have 6-7, 329 lb. Stone Forsythe.
Forsythe is a monstrous figure that saw plenty of starts in 2019 with inconsistency ringing as the overall theme.
But, given his size, power, and experience at the position, it’s impossible to put him any way other than the starter.
In his last chance to play in the orange and blue as a redshirt senior, Forsythe looks to continue his progression in the spring and keep hold of that starting spot.
2. Issiah Walker
Coming in at second-string left tackle is 6-4, 299 lbs. true freshman Issiah Walker. Though, he has the flexibility to play either tackle spot.
After enrolling early to join the Gators team in the spring, Walker is receiving extra reps that will benefit him throughout his collegiate career.
A four-star talent that Dan Mullen secured early on in the process, Walker has the intangibles to be a star when an opportunity presents itself. With a dominating presence on the outside of the line, Walker is the future of the position for Florida.
But for now, he will continue to progress as he awaits his turn in the future.
1. Richard Gouriage
At starting left guard heading into the spring is the third-year man out of Tampa, Florida, in Richard Gouriage.
After being thrown into a starting role in the middle of last season, Gouriage ran with the opportunity to play meaningful minutes for the Gators and never looked back.
Heading into his first full year as a starter, the former four-star prospect is still adjusting to the role of interior lineman.
Nevertheless, his athleticism and fluidity at any position on the offensive line create matchup problems for any opposing defensive line he faces.
2. T.J. Moore
Having seen nearly double the snaps on special teams than he has on the offensive line during his time at Florida, it’s a safe bet to say T.J. Moore will likely play the role of reserve lineman once again.
The former four-star lineman was a part of the 2017 recruiting class, which was the class before Mullen arrived in Gainesville.
Given the circumstances of Mullen acquiring his players, Moore has become lost in the shuffle and is unlikely to see any meaningful playing time given the starters in front of him stay healthy during the spring.
3. Griffin McDowell or Riley Simonds
The spot for the third-string left guard is genuinely one up in the air.
After a scooter incident held McDowell out of spring practices this time last season, he is looking to make the climb back up the depth chart with his performance in this year’s camp.
Meanwhile, Simonds is coming off a redshirt season and is now trying to make a name for himself in the orange and blue.
With little to lose and a lot to gain for both men, the fight for third-string could last well into the season, with a constant flip back and forth given the play in practices.
Playing in every game last season on special teams along with the versatility to play at all three interior offensive line spots, McDowell has seen much more on-field action than Simonds. This gives McDowell the slight edge going into the spring rather than Simonds.
1. Brett Heggie
Moving over to starting center after starting at both guard positions last season is the ultimate Swiss-Army knife, Brett Heggie.
With much speculation that Heggie would be making the move to center when the time came for Buchanan to relinquish the reigns on the position, the rumors are coming to fruition.
After a rocky start to his college career with injuries that kept him sidelined, Heggie found his footing within the offensive line group last season.
Starting in every game throughout 2019, Heggie is the most reliable player to fill in for the former starting center in Buchanan.
Adding a bit more size to the middle than Buchanan, Heggie possesses the required intangibles that make centers great in the SEC.
In an attempt to pick up right where the team left off against Virginia, the move of Heggie to the middle of the offensive line makes the most sense going forward.
With the size, power, and nasty streak Heggie carries with him when he’s on the field; he will be the anchor of this offensive line group.
2. Tanner Rowell or Kingsley Eguakun
Similar to the situation at left guard with Griffin McDowell and Riley Simonds, Tanner Rowell and Kingsley Eguakun are neck and neck to take the second string center spot.
In another battle between experience and potential, Rowell and Eguakun will heavily compete with each other in Spring camp to determine their roles come to the start of the Fall.
For Rowell, a former walk-on that was recently put on scholarship by the coaching staff, he looks to take hold of the reserve slot in his final year at the University of Florida.
With the departure of Rowell quickly approaching at the end of 2020, Eguakun has an excellent chance to be able to gain the upper hand if he can show solid performance and growth in the spring.
With a young player with loads of potential facing off against a special teams specialist, Eguakun should be able to take the spot. But, the drive and passion from Rowell may allow him to hold on to that reserved spot for the remainder of his Gator career.
1. Ethan White
Last year at this time, Ethan White the furthest player away from being a starter in his sophomore season.
Weighing nearly 400 pounds, White presented a tall task for strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage and offensive line coach John Hevesy to take on.
However, after vigorous training and dedication to getting in the right shape for SEC action, the once impossible project is now entering this spring as the starting right guard.
As many know, Mullen has built a strong reputation for getting the most out of his players, even the two and three stars that no one shows interest in coming out of high school. White is that player for Mullen during his time at Florida.
Despite not having anything that pops off the page, White has consistently improved since he arrived in Gainesville, dropping weight and becoming a more well-rounded guard in the process.
With Brett Heggie scooting over to center in 2020, White will benefit from it the most as he accomplishes a goal that seemed unlikely when he first stepped foot on campus last spring.
2. Will Harrod
Anchoring down the second string spot at right guard is redshirt freshman Will Harrod.
After only seeing action in one game last season in a blowout victory at home against Vanderbilt, the former four-star prospect will find himself backing up Ethan White.
As of right now, the veteran guard has the upper edge on incoming freshmen due to experience, but that doesn’t mean his spot can’t be lost to a younger player if he doesn’t perform at a high level.
3. Richie Leonard IV
Another early enrollee from the 2020 recruiting class that lands third on the depth chart is Richie Leonard IV.
A three-star prospect out of Cocoa, Florida, Leonard is an athletic interior lineman that can play on both the right and left side of the line.
With a background in baseball and basketball to go along with football, Leonard is a part of the group of agile trench guys Mullen and company are bringing in to be the future of their offensive line.
Like many young players, the spring will be a crucial time for Leonard to mature in his skillset and grow into his spot at the next level.
1. Jean Delance
Despite his inconsistency on the line for the Gators last season, Delance still finds himself with a starting spot during the spring.
However, that does not mean he will have it for very long.
After proving to be the weakest link of the offensive line last season, Delance will be taking part in a two-month audition to determine his standing come Fall camp time.
The former Texas Longhorn that transferred to the Gators in 2017 has under impressed since making his starting debut last season. With newcomers on his heels, Delance will need to do everything in his power to stay atop the depth chart for the right tackle.
His play in practice and come the Spring game will largely determine his role in 2020.
2. Joshua Braun
Possibly the most significant acquisition for Mullen and his staff on the offensive line is 6-6, 356 lb. Joshua Braun.
A monster among men that combines really good athleticism for his giant frame and footwork with strength and power, the nimble bulldozer is one to keep an eye out for in spring camp.
Enrolling early after flipping his commitment from Georgia to Florida with little time to spare before Early Signing Day, Braun will receive valuable reps that could land him in a starting role before it is all said and done.
With freakish physical attributes and time to work with the Gators training staff before the fall, Braun is right on the heels of Delance for the starting right tackle spot in 2020.
3. Michael Tarquin
After spending his freshman season redshirting, Tarquin made great strides in making a case for himself, getting some playing time in year two.
However, after Braun's surprise signing late in the recruiting process, Tarquin could be the player effected the most of any. After previously being destined to compete for a starting role this spring and into the future, Tarquin seems to have been pushed down the depth chart at right tackle.
Having the skill set that could allow him to make the jump to the number two spot at any given moment still makes Tarquin an interesting player to watch. But for now, the once-promising sophomore has a lot more competition if he wants to see on-field action any time soon.
With the limited amount of turnover the front unit will go through going into this season, the spring creates an opportunity for the Gators to build depth and tune-up weaknesses seen last year.
Given their lack of productivity in the run game this past season, this time gives them a chance to focus on improving in that area along with polishing up pass protection as a unit.
Chemistry and experience are significant for offensive line groups, especially for a team that looks to compete for a national championship very soon. However, for the first time in a while, talent is abundant from the top down in the Gators' offensive line room.
Having positions that are two-deep in this unit means there will be ongoing competition for the longevity of the spring and into the fall. Between the mixture of new faces and veterans, no spot is safe as the Gators look to put together the best possible unit for their upcoming campaign.