One More Chance for Bostic

Asked what moment of his career he is the most proud of, Jon Bostic hesitated. He had to think back over his three-year career at Florida about what has been the best part. After searching for it, Bostic spoke about the friends and relationships he has made during his time in Gainesville. Entering his final year at Florida, the senior has a chance to make that moment an on-field accomplishment.

"Obviously we didn't have the year we wanted last season," Jon Bostic said. "This upcoming season, I feel pretty good about our chances and where we're going."

It seems like just the other day when Bostic was making an impact on the practice field as a freshman backing up Brandon Spikes at middle linebacker. He's now heading into his third year as the starter in the middle of the Florida defense.

The difference in 2012 is that it's the first time Bostic has played under the same defensive coordinator for the second straight year. Charlie Strong was the defensive coordinator in 2009 while Teryl Austin ran that side of the ball in 2010. For the past two years, it has been the scheme that Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn prefer to run.

He was looked at as a leader last year even when he was uncertain at times in the defensive scheme, but he still led the team in tackles. This year, he's confident in his leadership ability.

"I know I'm one of the older guys on the team, even though I'm not that old," Bostic said. "I'm basically just trying to the young guys out. I've been in their shoes before. They get down on themselves and I try to pick them up."

There are plenty of young players for Bostic to help. Even though the Gators bring back a veteran group of linebackers that saw plenty of action last year, there are newcomers that could see time. Freshman Dante Fowler could play at the BUCK linebacker position, and freshman Antonio Morrison has drawn positive reviews since he stepped on campus in the spring.

The depth is important at linebacker this season, but it's also important for the future, as the Gators will lose Bostic and McCray to graduation after the season is over.

"You never know when injuries are going to happen," Bostic said. "For us to be able to count on (the younger players) is really important for us. Our defense is not a very simple defense. It's actually very complex. There are a lot of calls and checks you have to make.

"The MIKE is required to make a lot of kill calls if we want to kill a defense and go to something else. It's really important for them to be able to step up if someone does go down."

If healthy, the Gators have veterans returning at linebacker. Quinn said on Thursday that McCray is the first team BUCK linebacker at this point in camp. Junior Darrin Kitchens and redshirt sophomore Neiron Ball are fighting for the SAM linebacker job. Bostic has the MIKE linebacker locked down while the Jelani Jenkins will start the year as the WILL linebacker.

Bostic, Jenkins and McCray saw a lot of playing time last year. When Ronald Powell returns from his torn ACL, the unit will have even more depth.

"We know we're in the middle of everything and try to take control of what's going on," Bostic said. "We split a lot of the calls up that may have a lot of checks. The SAMs deal with these calls, the MIKEs deal with the d-line and the WILL deals with the safeties. That all just comes together from being around each other."

The second year of the defense has the linebackers playing faster. They know the calls for the rest of the defense and have found faster ways to communicate them through the rest of the group.

Bostic said the unit's comfort in the defense has allowed them to shorten some of the calls before the ball is snapped.

"The communication is a lot better," Bostic said. "In the first year, the wording is pretty long. For us being the second year in the defense, we're allowed to cut those words down shorter now because we know what each other is thinking. We can look at each other and pretty much know.

"It makes us a lot better as a defense because we're playing a lot faster and getting the calls quicker than last year."

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