The exodus of players out of Gainesville following a disappointing 2013 season apparently isn’t over for the Florida Gators. After watching a number of players decide to leave the program to finish their careers elsewhere, Will Muschamp received word of yet another defection on Wednesday when starting safety Cody Riggs announced he would graduate in the spring and spend his final year of eligibility somewhere else. The move is a blow to a Florida defense that was counting on having some experience back in the secondary next season.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Riggs started 12 games at safety last season and finished fourth on the team with 51 tackles. He also added 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and three passes defended in his first season at the safety position. For his first three years on campus, Riggs was a cornerback for the Gators and recorded one interception before getting moved. He has played in 40 games since 2010 with 26 career starts, but reportedly is hoping to transfer for a “fresh start” where he can move back to corner for his final year of eligibility.
Muschamp is confident that the team will be able to fill the void at safety left by Riggs’ departure, however. Marcus Maye saw some starting time last season while Keanu Neal was singled out as a player who continues to improve in practice. The team will also welcome back Marcell Harris from a knee injury this fall and Nick Washington has shown the ability to line up at multiple positions in the secondary. Nickel corner Brian Poole could also get moved around while Muschamp has high hopes for incoming freshman Duke Dawson.
The Gators will need someone from that group to step up and take command or find some combination of players to hold down the deep middle of the defense. While losing Riggs is definitely inconvenient for Florida, the Gators feel confident in the depth of their secondary to overcome the loss in 2014.