To be honest, Florida doesn’t really lose all that much this year, and even better, shouldn’t lose all that much after this year, either.
But there are a few big pieces that need to be, and I believe will be, filled adequately in 2011.
Ahmad Black, safety
What he meant to Florida:
If ever there will be a sequel to Rudy, they’ll make it of Ahmad Black. Here is a perfect example of a guy who was told he wasn’t good enough, he was too slow and too small, and that he couldn’t play for an SEC team. Turns out that while he wasn’t the fastest or biggest guy out there, he was plenty good enough to be the Gators’ rock in the secondary for three straight seasons. He made his living on incredible instinct, and that was what made him Matt McGloin’s leading receiver in the Outback Bowl. But he had a habit of picking off well thrown passes in key situations- like when he ended the Tennessee game in 2009 with a late pick to seal the 23-13 win, and when Juaquin Iglesias made a huge catch in the BCS Championship game and Black just took it away. The perfect ending to Black’s movie was the pick 6 to end the Penn State game.
My guess is Matt Elam, who has never started a meaningful game, but has the great talent that makes a quick transition from bench to starter possible. He is an absolute headhunter, and will be more of a combo of Black and Major Wright, but will probably play in Black’s free safety spot.
Mike Pouncey, Center
What he meant to Florida:
Aside from snapping balls all over Alachua County? Yeah, there was also the impressive fact that he played most of four years at Florida and started three of them. He earned All-American honors, and for a lineman, he was pretty quick. No, he can’t beat Chris Rainey in a race, but there have been instances when he played guard where he recovered from a missed block to hold off a linebacker shooting the a-gap and pushing him more to the outside, giving Tebow more time to throw. His athleticism will surely be missed.
Could be anybody. Sam Robey was once upon a time a true center and he seems to be the best bet as of right now. Remember, though, this is Florida, and every single player has to be able to play multiple positions. Tim Tebow was a QB, and techinically, our short yardage running back. Percy Harvin was a running back and receiver. Brandon James was a punt returner, but saw some time as a receiver and running back. So Weis might not hesitate to play musical chairs with the offensive line, either, and convert a tackle or guard (but he’ll actually make sure he knows how to snap a ball).
Again, though, we’re Florida. We’ll be fine with the way we recruit.