Roster Moves Prove Beneficial

Recruiting somewhere near 25 players a year and managing a roster close to 85 football players means not all decisions are going to be right in your scouting. Add in the issue of inheriting another coach's roster and there are often times a need to purge from or move guys around on the roster. That isn't an easy process and rarely works out. Then there are the good stories.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp is all about the big picture. Maximizing his roster for now and in the future will allow his team to play their best football.

As spring ball approached in March, Muschamp and the staff made a few position changes on the roster and most of them successful.

One of the more successful changes was moving linebacker Gideon Ajagbe to fullback. The rising red-shirt junior had been on campus for almost four years and has almost not seen the field at all. A team favorite and a pretty good athlete, Ajagbe just wasn't passing the muster at linebacker for whatever reason.

Florida tried to sign a fullback in the 2013 class and the one they wanted wasn't going to end up qualifying so they had to do without. With star junior Hunter Joyer at the position, Muschamp has the guy he wants, but there was absolutely nobody behind him in case of injury.

Insert Ajagbe and red-shirt freshman Rhaheim Ledbetter. Ledbetter had a positive spring as well after moving over from the safety position, but Ajagbe was a pretty good find as far as Muschamp is concerned.

"I think he is a very pleasant surprise for us," Muschamp said to a group of reporters gathered before talking to the Polk County Gator Club of the 6-2, 243 pounder.

Ajagbe is an intelligent player and as mentioned pretty athletic. He showed an ability to catch the ball and run after the catch this spring. He was a bull in pass protection. He even showed he could run with the ball when asked to do.

The move is a very natural one given his physical ability.

"Gideon is going to be a guy that can play some ‘move' tight end for us," Muschamp said of the 6-2, 243 pounder. "He gave us a little more than we thought we were going to have moving in there.

Muschamp and company feel real good about the starters among the defensive line. They also have some experienced and quality depth inside at tackle. On the edges, the staff feels like the starters can be exceptionally good. But, there was zero depth behind the two starters at BUCK and End.

One player that was moved from linebacker before the spring had to get ready for the move by changing his body. Bryan Cox, Jr. did everything they expected and Muschamp came away satisfied where he thinks the red-shirt freshman will be when the season starts in August.

"Bryan has a high motor," he said of Cox. "In high school he was weighing 225-230 pounds. He comes to college and we're trying to find him a home whether it's linebacker, putting his hand in the dirt, BUCK, or RUSH End. We settle on defensive end and decide to bulk him up. (Now) he's up to 265 pounds.

"That's all fine and good but his body has to learn to carry that weight. That's hard for guys early. He got fatigued and tired and the typical thing I have seen a thousand times."

Cox took to the move mentally and it showed in his play on the practice field despite the extra work he had to put in hauling the extra weight around. New defensive line coach Brad Lawing has had experience with a lot of big time players in his career and Muschamp says the d-line boss is happy with Cox.

"He has a high motor and is going to help our football team next year," Muschamp said. "He can pass rush, can do it inside. Brad is really pleased with the progress Bryan made through the spring."


Fightin Gators Top Stories