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31 for 31: Omarius Hines, WR

This is the tenth in a series of 31 profiles in 31 days about players the Florida Gators will depend upon in 2011.

Omarius Hines, WR

Omarius Hines, 6-0, 220, wide receiver

Good things seem to happen when Omarius Hines touches the football. Last season as a redshirt sophomore, he caught 20 passes for 281 yards (14.1 per catch) and a touchdown and he ran the ball 12 times for 152 yards (12.7 per carry) and scored two touchdowns. During his Florida career, he has caught 34 passes for 453 yards (13.3 per catch) and two touchdowns.

Against Tennessee in 2010, Hines saved the game for the Gators when he took a fake punt 36 yards up the middle on a fourth and six for a critical Florida first down. In Florida’s Outback Bowl win over Penn State, Hines scored the Gators’ first touchdown on a 16-yard end around. In Florida’s win over Georgia in Jacksonville, Hines caught four passes for 50 yards and ran six times for 58 yards.

Those are very good numbers, the kind of numbers that indicate that this guy is a legitimate playmaker. And that is exactly what is so confusing. Last year the Gators struggled to move the ball consistently and put points on the board with any kind of regularity. For a team that averaged just 10.4 yards per pass completion and an almost dismal 6.3 yards per pass attempt, it begs the question why wasn’t the ball in Hines’ hands more often? A player who can move the chains in so many ways certainly should have had his hands on the ball more often.

With the retirement of Urban Meyer Florida’s offensive philosophy has changed considerably since last season. Gone is the spread option and in its place is a pro style attack favored by new head coach Will Muschamp and implemented by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. During his spring speaking tour of Gator Clubs, Muschamp made it perfectly clear that he wants a downfield passing game and a strong running game.

Hines can be a receiver to be reckoned with in the downfield game. He’s 220 pounds and physically the strongest of the Florida wide receivers. He is the kind of receiver that seemed to thrive in the passing game when Weis was the head ball coach at Notre Dame. With the option a thing of the past, Hines might not see the ball in the running game as often as last year, but Weis has been known to run reverses and it’s likely that he will incorporate some wildcat plays into the offense. As he showed last year, Hines is very good with the ball in his hands running the ball in traffic.

In that he is a fourth year junior, Hines will also need to become a leader for his position group. The Gators have nine receivers, but six of them are either freshmen or sophomores so the upperclassmen are going to need to show the way both with their words and actions.

There is no doubt that Omarius Hines can be a strong offensive threat for the Gators this year. With an offense that is shifting from a run first philosophy to one that incorporates more of a pro passing game, Hines has all the tools that should make him an indispensable weapon.

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