Fowler better suited as a sophomore

He reported to school late last year and at 277 pounds. Dante Fowler had a Freshman All-SEC season a year ago and he thinks it could have been much better. He even ballooned up a bit near the end of the season and there was some talk of moving him inside to tackle and away from the BICK position. Once he decided he wanted none of that, Fowler got himself in primo shape.

It had to be a struggle for Dante Fowler in the summer of 2012. He was denied entry at the same time as his classmates to the University of Florida by the NCAA Clearinghouse while he completed the coursework necessary to actually enter.

In that time, he gained a little weight and showed up a little bigger than he probably wanted to. However, that didn't seem to set him back any when it came time to play on the football field. Fowler seemed to turn all of that negative karma into positive when the ball was snapped and had a really good freshman season.

With a year under his belt and all the experience that comes with it, Fowler knows he could have been a little more prepared a year ago to play a position that may be the hardest to find the right fit for on the entire defense.

The BUCK position is a hybrid defensive end / linebacker that will often times be asked to rush the passer and at other times may have to cover a back or tight end in the passing game, or play passing zones, all depending on the call. That guy has to be in great shape and have a great deal of athletic ability to play the position.

That is why he made a change.

"I was playing a little over weight, around 275," Fowler told last week. "I felt like in the SEC and playing the BUCK that I not only had to rush the quarterback, I was going to have to cover people too. I felt like in order to cover the fast receivers I needed to get down to a certain weight where I could play fast. I decided to cut my weight down a little bit."

He got up to the mid-280's by January, then he took charge of his weight and he trained in order to get down to 262 pounds by the start of spring ball in March. A healthier, leaner, and faster Fowler was now able to make all the plays on the field necessary and raised the stamina level.

Getting there wasn't easy.

"With me it was kind of hard because I am a person that likes to eat a lot," Fowler said with a smile. "My nutritionist and everyone has me right. I actually got leaner, faster, and stronger, so I like it."

And since the spring he has transformed even more. He has maintained his quickness and speed and added more muscle and is a ripped 6-foot-3.5 inches and 270 pounds of terror coming off of the end of the line of scrimmage and more of where he wanted to be.

His new thing is being a leader of a group of linemen that are mostly younger than his one year of experience. He says as of now he is a ‘by example' type of leader.

"I just try to show them great examples in what I am supposed to do and not supposed to do," he said.

As for expectations on the year, he believes the tightness of the line and the rest of defense is something that should propel them to a great year.

"I think our defense can accomplish a lot of things," Fowler said. "We have a great bond, a great chemistry with each other. That bringing us together, it helps a lot. It all starts in the locker room and being with those guys is nice.

His personal goals are really team goals.

"I just want to be productive," he said. "I want to be a team person, a team leader. I want to lead our team to a championship, a national championship. I just want to get W's."

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