Returning players that could make a jump

Returning players that could make a jump

Even in a four-win season last year, the Gators had multiple players show promise. It just didn't happen as consistently as it needed to. With Florida players currently going through player-run practices, there are multiple players that look ready to take the next step in their progression this season.

Defensive tackle Darious Cummings: After spending two years at Florida State, Cummings transferred to East Mississippi Community College. The 2013 season was his first year getting accustomed to playing defensive line in the Southeastern Conference. There were times when his ability showed, but it wasn't consistent enough.

He had a strong spring and could explode as a senior. When Dominique Easley tore his ACL, Cummings was the closest thing Florida had to an explosive interior defensive lineman. He was eighth on the team with three tackles for a loss, but he stuffed the stat sheet with one sack, one interception, one pass breakup, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. He could be an important piece of the middle of the Gators' defensive line.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis: As a freshman, Davis had 24 tackles in 12 games. He started the season as a fixture on special teams before getting more reps on defense as the season continued. This year, he heads into the season as one of the leaders at a linebacker position including multiple veteran players.

The statistics aren't overly impressive from his freshman year. Besides the 24 tackles, Davis had just one pass breakup and one forced fumble. That should change this season. Davis can play the MIKE or WILL linebacker spots and should be an important part of what the Gators do. Florida played 70-80 percent nickel defense last year, putting two linebackers on the field. Davis will be a tough one to take off the field at any point this year.

Offensive tackle Chaz Green: As injuries decimated the Florida season last year, Green was one of the first to go down. He suffered a torn labrum in practice and missed the entire year. This season, he's back and looks to be Florida's starting right tackle when it opens fall camp.

The fifth-year senior battled inconsistency during his first few years on campus, but the Florida coaches believed he was in for a big year in 2013. The season-ending injury cut that short, but Green looked strong and had a great spring. The coaching staff felt good enough about his performance to move Trenton Brown from tackle to guard.

Safety Marcus Maye: As a redshirt freshman, Maye went into the 2013 season as the starter at the position. And then the Miami game happened. Maye got beat deep, biting on a play action fake from quarterback Stephen Morris, who hit Phillip Dorsett deep for a 52-yard touchdown. Maye was rarely on the field after that for the rest of the 2013 season.

This spring, he had a fresh slate. Maye worked a majority of the time with the first team. He still has the build to play an important role as the safety that plays a majority of the time in the box, and it looks like he will do that this season. The secondary lacks experience, but as Will Muschamp has said multiple times, the group is as talented as it has been in his time at Florida. Maye now has to show he can limit the big mistakes.

Linebacker Daniel McMillian: When the Florida defense was thin because of injuries late in the season, McMillian still didn't see the field. A wrist injury also played a role in that, but he wasn't ready to get on the field during his first season at Florida. It was all mental. He struggled to pick up the defense and the coaches didn't trust him on the field.

This spring was a different story. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin praised McMillian for spending time on his own in the film room, learning and studying the defense so he was ready to make an impact. It looked like it when the Gators hit the practice field. McMillian flew around the field and wasn't slowed by overthinking things. With a clear head and the tools that made him one of the most heavily recruited linebackers in the southeast during his senior year, McMillian could be a surprise standout this year.

Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson: The lack of a major impact for Robinson didn't have to do with his physical ability. He couldn't stay out of trouble as a freshman, going through two separate suspensions that totaled three games missed. He had five catches for 23 yards on the entire season after being mentioned among the best receivers on the team during fall and spring practices before the season.

Reports from the coaches and players are all positive. Ahmad Fulwood even mentioned that he has seen Robinson mature throughout the offseason. If he continues to stay out of trouble, Robinson has the ability to make a splash and be a game-changer at the receiver position. If the spring is any indication, he looks ready to make that happen.

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