Elam Ready to Lead

Sophomore strong safety Matt Elam is following in the footsteps of one of the greatest safeties in Gator football history. Ahmad Black was an instinctual player that made a ton of plays in his last three years on campus. Elam isn't ready to be the next Black, he wants to be his own man and understands he needs to lead the defense. He is having a great time so far in the first half of spring.

Under head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Florida promises to offer an attacking style and one that will play into the strengths of Matt Elam. Elam is an aggressive player and loves to play close to the football.

"I like the defense a lot," Elam told the Florida media on Monday. "We have a lot of opportunities and can make a lot of big plays. I like all of it, the whole scheme.

Even as a sophomore, Elam will be asked to help be a leader on a defense that will be super young, but ultra-talented.

"I have more of a role now and have to step up," he said. "I should be starting this year so it should be a good year for me. I just have to work extra hard.

"I think I have to be more of a leader this year. I am more involved. My role means I have to more of a leader.

"I am not used to being vocal, so I need to start taking on that role and being more vocal."

Ahmad Black was the leader of the 2010 defense, and will go down as one of the top three to five safeties in Gators history. Elam learned a lot from Black, but can't give up too much of his time trying to be just like the Gator Great.

"I learned a lot from Ahmad, practice the way he practiced and the way he handled his situation," Elam said. "I am not worried about filling shoes, I just want to go out and play football."

Elam has really grown to like the new Florida head coach.

"I love Muschamp," he said. "He is a cool man. I have learned a lot from him."

He was asked about attacking defenses and almost seemed to be afraid to give away too much about what they are going to do schematically.

"I love to blitz," he said with a big grin. "You know what I am saying…. I love to blitz."

When asked what will stand out about this Gators defense, he did not hesitate.

"The speed," he said emphatically.

He's also having a good time playing next to an o0ld teammate that came back to the ‘right' side of the ball. Tight end Gerald Christian has moved from offense to the SAM linebacker position and is doing well. Elam and Christian won a state championship at Dwyer High School in 2009.

"I love it," he said of Christian's return to defense. "I always wanted to play with him again, so it will be nice. He's doing well. He's a defensive person I feel, so it is good for him. When we were in high school and played defense, I just feel like he should be playing defense."

Elam thinks this defense will be all about taking the ball away. The speed on the field is going to mean they will be getting the ball back for the defense.

"It is very important in college," Elam said. "We have to force a lot of turnovers. That is how you win ball games. I think we are going to do that a lot."


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