With exactly 54 days to go until Florida kicks off the 2017 regular season against Michigan at AT&T Stadium, numerous questions still sit unanswered regarding UF’s football team.
Who is the starting quarterback? Which players will step up on defense? Which freshmen are expected to contribute this year?
However, with SEC Football Media Days kicking off this week, Gators fans should receive a little bit more clarity on some of those issues.
Coach Jim McElwain will attend the media gathering held at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, today from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., along with cornerback Duke Dawson, safety Marcell Harris and offensive lineman Martez Ivey.
This year marks the first time since 2009 that Florida did not appear on Day 1 of the event. Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee began the festivities on Monday afternoon. Georgia, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State will join UF at today’s meeting with the media.
Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas A&M are scheduled to speak on Wednesday, and Auburn, Ole Miss and South Carolina will wrap up the convention on Thursday.
McElwain and the Gators enter media day as the defending two-time SEC East champions. Since arriving at Florida in 2015, the Missoula, Montana, native has led the program to a 19-8 overall record, tying Steve Spurrier for the second most wins by a coach through his first two seasons at UF.
The Gators’ 13 conference wins over the past two years are also the second most in the SEC behind Alabama (15).
“I think the excitement and the momentum that we’ve built, it continues to roll and move forward,” McElwain said in March. “Seeing some of those things come to fruition is pretty cool.”
For Dawson, Harris and Ivey, the trio of players attending today’s conference all figure to play a big role for Florida in 2017.
Dawson started seven games at nickelback last season and is expected to move outside this fall with the departure of cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson to the NFL Draft.
Harris recorded a team-leading 73 tackles last year and will continue to serve as a stalwart in UF’s defensive backfield.
And Ivey – the Gators most experienced starter on the offensive line – will move from left guard to left tackle in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior from Apopka, Florida is a budding star who commanded his coach’s respect from the moment he stepped on campus two seasons ago.
“(Ivey) is a guy that has a lot of pride,” McElwain said last fall. "He works hard, it’s important to him. He cares. He’s a guy that when he does talk, people listen.”
Florida opens the 2017 regular season on Sept. 2 against the Wolverines in Arlington, Texas. The team’s situation at quarterback is still uncertain, with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and grad transfer Malik Zaire viewed as the frontrunners to win the starting job. UF also lost seven starters on last year’s defense, forcing players like Dawson, defensive back Chauncey Gardner Jr. and linebacker David Reese into larger roles.
Expect McElwain to give some insight on both topics, as well as other issues surrounding the team.