When you think of number 15 for the Florida Gators, the one that first comes to your mind is probably none other than 2008 Heisman trophy winner and current New England Patriots backup quarterback, Tim Tebow.
There’s no reason not to after what he accomplished in Gainesville as part of Urban Meyer’s spread option offense, which won two BCS championships with him behind center. He set five NCAA, 14 SEC and 28 Gator records, while also winning the Heisman trophy. Who can beat that? Who would even try?
That was before Loucheiz Purifoy stepped on the field at the Swamp donning the blue and orange number 15 jersey.
After a freakish sophomore campaign last season, Florida junior cornerback/wide receiver Purifoy may be the one of the best SEC draft prospects not named Jadeveon Clowney coming into the 2013 season.
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds Purifoy, named to both the Nagurski and Bronco award watch lists this offseason, possesses incredible size, physical coverage skills, top flight ability, shifty elusiveness and a blazing 4.3 40-yard dash to accompany his game tape that NFL scouts are still dwelling over from last season.
He made 51 tackles, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks for the Gators last season. The highlight came when he blocked a Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajun punt that was recovered and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Jelani Jenkins with seconds left to win the game for the Gators.
Purifoy’s showed his overall instinctiveness at the field corner against Georgia in their Florida’s lone SEC loss, recording six solo tackles.
In his junior season, the Gators will look to use Purifoy as a cornerback, wide receiver and punt returner to incorporate his big-play ability in all phases of the game.
Looking for immediate big-play ability after last season’s lack of passing offense and the sudden injury to star receiver Andre Debose for the season, Gators offensive coordinator, Brent Pease and former Kentucky head coach/current Gators wide receivers coach Joker Phillips are counting on Purifoy to play some slot reciever as well.
Head coach Will Muschamp should have supreme confidence using Purifoy in multiple roles for the Gators this season. Purifoy will group up with Marcus Roberson for the second year in a row, and make up one of the best cornerback tandems in the SEC, and probably country.
This kid relates to a Deion Sanders back in his day as a three-sport athlete in Tallahassee for Bobby Bowden. He will make that team better on both sides of the ball with his playmaker ability. No reason not to think that when next April rolls around, he won’t be the first cornerback taken in the early first round range as a junior.
My only question is how do you game plan against the “Swiss Army knife” this season?