Watkins is a triple threat

He is the Trey Burton of the Florida defense. Jaylen Watkins may not be the most notable name in the Gator secondary, but he may very well be the most valuable. Watkins enters the season a starter at safety, a position that lost both starters to the NFL. He will also spend multiple games lining up at all three of safety, cornerback, and nickel and knows what he is supposed to do on the field.

As a one of only a couple of seniors in a very diverse and talented group, Jaylen Watkins just wants to have fun, win games, and help some young guys make this 2013 version of Florida football a better football team. He is mainly looking forward to this last go around as a Gator playing the game he loves with his best friends.

"Just enjoying being with the group of guys I came in with and going out there winning together," Watkins said of what he is most looking forward to. "Stepping up my game and being a leader for the secondary since I am the oldest in the secondary."

Watkins could be an all-SEC selection at cornerback if he wanted to. But he is finding satisfaction in helping his team with his versatility and knows the Gators need help most at safety now with the return of juniors Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy at cornerback.

"I took it upon myself to learn all three positions and Coach Muschamp has been cross training me," Watkins said. "I am very prepared for it. I actually played all three in one game against Louisiana Lafayette and Louisville. In most of the games I played nickel and corner. It wasn't difficult because we prepare every game like I am a starter at every position. If I am a starting corner, I prepare like I am a starting nickel as well. I am going full speed no matter what they call or what position I am at."

Watkins has such a grasp of the defense, he is comfortable now questioning a call from the sideline that he thinks doesn't fit what the rest of the defense is doing on the field. A year ago it wasn't his position to do so, although he knew it when things were wrong, this year he knows he has to do that to get everyone on the same page.

"You have to know your role on the team," he said. "Last year I understood when it should change, this year I am looking to be more vocal about it. Out there, if a call is made in the secondary that is wrong, it is just easier when I know what is going on. It helps the other guys when I can show them whan something is wrong."

One of the things he enjoys the most is helping the younger guys. His time at Florida has flown by, but he knows he can help the guys that haven't seen the field much.

"I think all three of the safeties are hungry and are ready," he said like a proud poppa. "Camp is going to be big. Marcus Maye, Jabari Gorman, and Valdez Showers are hungry and it is their time. It will be fun in camp to see those guys compete against each other."

With all three positions under his belt and a necessity for him to play, his true love is still on the outside, in man-on-man coverage with the best receivers that college football has to offer. Watkins still loves the physical challenge of playing cornerback.

"I most like to play corner," He said. "I have been playing it so long and I like competing 1 on 1. (I love) trying to trail someone and you know what they are doing… it's pretty exciting.

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