Bullard Ready to Play

Admittedly he had some work to do in the classroom, but with all of that behind him now, Gators' signee Jonathan Bullard is ready to play for the University of Florida. At a much needed position and with a great deal of physical ability, Bullard is a welcome addition to a roster that could see him starting very early in his career.

Dominating the ranks of North Carolina High School football was fun for Jonathan Bullard of Shelby Crest. Doing it on the bigger stage of the US Army All-American Game in San Antonio last January may have been more impressive. But Bullard would still rather be remembered in high school as a guy that cared.

I hope they just remember me off the field as well," he told FightinGators.com a week ago. "I was a good team player. I know I had a lot of the spot light, but I liked to share that with my teammates. I liked to play with the kids. We had camps with little kids and I really enjoyed that."

But when it turns to the field of play, Bullard is anything but a nice guy. He will crush whoever is in front of him and his size and athletic ability makes him a prime candidate to start early at the big defensive end position for Florida. It is a position that has lacked a true player there and forced others in the spot for a couple of years. Bullard can change that quickly.

"I just want to be a dominant defensive player," he said of his next stop at the University of Florida. "Somebody that came in early and hopefully I can be all-conference as a freshman. I just want to do a good job with pass rush and stuff like that."

At 6-4 and 260 pounds he is about five pounds off of his desired weight of 265 he is SEC ready to play and the staff at Florida has told him to be prepared to do just that.

"They always say to just come in shape and come prepared to play," he said. "They say I will definitely be on the field next year as long as I earn it."

There was a point in time when him being at Florida was not an absolute given. Not prone to following through with his work in the classroom in his earlier high school years, Bullard pulled a great year as a senior and is set to show up in Gainesville on June 26.

"It was an issue, but I finished the school year off strong and finished with three A's," Bullard said of his qualifying academically. "I am absolutely good to go now."

He's also physically healthy after a senior year that he dominated but played through a nagging injury.

"I had a hamstring problem, I pulled it during the season," he said. "I am just trying to get it right. I have been doing hamstring exercises and everything, I had it cleared up a bit by the end of the season and I am absolutely good now."

Like most of the 2012 class he has kept in contact with a few of the other guys. His teammate Rhaheim Ledbetter of course is an easy one, but quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg and a few others are guys he kept tabs on.

"I texted Skyler the other day," he said. "I talk to (safety) Marcus Maye every once in a while. I am sure we will get a lot closer once we start working out together and get going."

One guy on campus already that he talks to a little more often is fellow North Carolinian D.J. Humphries. Florida has killed it in recruiting in North Carolina as of late and Humphries can offer a perspective of life as a freshman since he already enrolled at Florida early and in January.

"I know D.J. Humphries a good bit," he said. "I asked him how it is going and how it is down there. He loves it and says I better come in shape. They say they are running the mess out of him… I don't like running (with a laugh)."

The atmosphere in Gainesville was a huge draw for Bullard and all of the gator fans involved. He just wants them to know that they will get everything from him as a college athlete.

"I am a hard worker and someone that they can believe in from game one," he said.

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