Florida searching for a reliable offensive playmaker

It’s not like Florida coach Will Muschamp doesn’t have enough to worry about this offseason.

Between the carousel of booster club meetings and deciding on an appropriate punishment for senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Muschamp has to be sweating over how his players will take to summer workouts, especially his offensive skill players.

Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will be limited with players, so strength coach Mickey Marotti and the players themselves will be left with the responsibility of making sure spring improvements bleed over into fall practice.

Player-organized 7-on-7s will be the crucial next step to finding that player the offense can consistently rely on.

Florida has a stable of unproven wide receivers and tight ends and while speed is the name of Florida’s running game, none have proven to be capable of being a primary running back.

So who will step up to help out quarterback John Brantley this fall? Let’s take a look at the options:


Chris Rainey: When he’s good, he’s dangerous, but Rainey has always dealt with inconsistency and he’s not the strongest athlete. At 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, he’s not an intimidating player to look at, but he’s one of the most elusive runners in the SEC. He’ll be used as a receiver at times and Muschamp praised him for having one of the best springs of any of Florida’s players.

Jeff Demps: He’s a national champion in the 60-meter dash and he was one of the most exciting players in the country to watch during his first two seasons. However, he proved that his 5-foot-8, 181-pound frame couldn’t handle being an ever-down running back last season when he went down with a foot injury after carrying the ball more than 20 times against Tennessee. He’s Florida’s best weapon in space, but he can’t be asked to carry a heavy load out of the backfield.


Trey Burton: He’s no longer a quarterback and will be used more out of the backfield. He was a major running threat at times and caught 32 passes in 2010. He wasn't terribly shifty or much of a deep threat, but he became a consistent target for Brantley last season.


Deonte Thompson: Thompson was supposed to be Florida’s next great deep threat, but inconsistency with his hands has hindered that. He was a top recruit coming out of high school, yet enters his senior season with the unproven tag. His speed isn’t questioned, but he’s got to shore up his catching ability before he can be a major factor.

Frankie Hammond Jr.: He’s got big-play ability, but he’s never really been used extensively in Florida’s offense. He’s got pretty good speed and left spring as a starter on the outside. He said during spring that he and Brantley have developed good on-field chemistry, but will it carry into the fall?

Omarius Hines: Hines was hardly used last season, but combines his 6-foot-1, 211-pound frame with exceptional speed to become a mismatch for most defenders. He’s got the traits to be a playmaker, but he needs to be used more.

Andre Debose: Coming out of high school, he was expected to immediately replace Percy Harvin on offense, but severe hamstring injury sidelined him his freshman year and his inconsistency in practice cost him playing time in 2010. This spring, he was held out of the latter part of practice and the spring game with an ankle injury. Debose had the gifts in high school, but he’s yet to fully show them at Florida.

Quinton Dunbar: Dunbar became one of Muschamp's most talked about offensive players this spring because of his big-play ability and speed. He's inexperienced, but appears to have the tools to be a deep threat in Florida's offense.

Robert Clark: He was solid in the slot this spring and could be a guy that gets the ball in the backfield as well. He’s elusive and has good speed, so he could be a real threat in the middle of the field for the Gators this fall.


Jordan Reed: He’s back at tight end and during spring he drew tons of praise from his teammates and coaches. Brantley called him one of the most athletic players on Florida’s team, regardless of position. Now that the tight end is a major part of the offense, Reed could end up being a prime target for Brantley this fall.