Jelani Jenkins Working Through Changes

The Florida Gators will still invoke a pressing, attacking style of defense in 2011, but it will be a little different. The new defense will probably be a little more aggressive in nature and will be more multiple than in the last several years. Sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins is busy soaking it all in, but loves what the defense is doing so far.

Spring is usually a time to sort out the depth chart for the next season, but at Florida in 2011, it is all about learning new systems under new coaches. Jelani Jenkins will be a mainstay in the defense, and he is busy figuring it out.

"Every day we add new plays," Jenkins told the media about the spring. "A lot of it is different, but a lot of it is stuff we (are repeating). Every day we have new stuff going in. "It can be overwhelming at times, but it isn't that bad. I think for a lot of new guys it can be overwhelming, but if you study your playbook it isn't that bad."

One main component of the 2011 defense will be a multiple look and the Gators will want to implement some of a 3-4 front to help confuse defenses. Still a base 4-3 defense, the Gators will roll a lineman off the line of scrimmage and line up in a four linebacker set pretty often. Jenkins likes the thought and says it is good for the linebackers.

"It was new and everything is different," he said about the new sets. "It is an adjustment and we have to keep getting better. I like it a lot. It seems it really frees up the linebackers.

Look for the defense to be faster in the alignment because according to Jenkins, who could line up as the WILL or DIME on the field, the linebackers can just fly around.

"It depends on the play, but (in the 3-4) the linebackers just run," he said.

Regardless, the defense has been practicing very well and Jenkins expects the same numbers from this defense as we have grown accustomed to in the last several years.

"We are going to be the same defense we've always been at Florida," he said. "We will run, hit hard, keep being relentless, and being aggressive. That is how we've always been. There won't be much of a difference."

Jenkins can feel the enthusiasm from his defensive teammates about the defense and the opportunities it will bring.

"I think everyone is excited about the new things that are going in," he said. "There are a lot of great plays in there and everyone is working hard and having fun.

"Running a pro-style defense, you can tell (defensive coordinator Dan Quinn) knows what he is doing and the whole staff knows what they are doing. He's intense, and he knows what he is doing. He's passionate."

Jenkins will be playing alongside or behind a fellow sophomore in Ronald Powell who Jenkins says has some real tools to be a difference maker at the college level. He also said Powell has really grown as a teammate and a leader in a year.

"Ronald Powell is a great player," Jenkins said. "He is a leader and works hard. He is trying to get better every day. He pushes a lot of people and is very athletic. I am excited to play behind him.

"He's one of those guys that you can move him around wherever. He can play on the line or move him back, just wherever we need him.

"He's really stepping up and being a leader. He knows what to expect and helping out some of the younger guys like Clay (Burton)."

Another sophomore that will; get in the action is Gerald Christian. A year ago he was playing tight end and fullback on offense, and to start this spring he is playing SAM linebacker. Jenkins believes Christian is coming around and transforming quickly from being an offensive player.

"He is very athletic, but he has to learn how to switch his brain from offense to defense," Jenkins said of Christian. "That shouldn't take a lot of time, as soon as he gets more reps at linebacker. He has the athletic ability I know he can be a great linebacker.

"It's a whole different aggressive style as a defensive player than an offensive player, going from running and catching to trying to kill people. It's a big difference, but he'll be fine."

Early reports form camp are that the defense is flying around and playing very well. With the athleticism at linebacker like Jelani Jenkins, Ronald Powell, and Gerald Christian, there is size and super speed on the field.

Fightin Gators Top Stories