Early enrollee impact: Taven Bryan

Taven Bryan committed to Florida last summer after showing up at a camp and impressing the coaches. Little known to most people at the time, the Florida staff couldn't have been happier after getting to work with him on their own. They were able to do it again during spring practice after he enrolled early, and the early returns remained positive.

It doesn't take long to notice Bryan. Even at the first day of spring practice for a freshman that had only been on campus in Gainesville for a few months, his 6-5, 260-pound frame was easy to pick out of a crowd.

The spring started slow for him. Technique wasn't where it needed to be for a freshman, who should be finishing up his senior year of high school in Wyoming, to compete against polished Southeastern Conference linemen. But as practices wore on and Taven Bryan became more comfortable in what he learned from defensive line coach Brad Lawing, he made noticeable improvements on the field.

"He's only going to continue to get better," Will Muschamp said. "He runs extremely well. He's a good athlete. He's got really good strength. He's one of the stronger defensive linemen as far of just hand, hand strength. If you talk to our offensive linemen as far as a guy that gets his hands on people. He's a tough guy to deal with as far as that's concerned."

His fellow defensive linemen saw it, too. Bryan's wrestling background gives him a unique perspective on the position and a different strength than some of the other linemen had seen.

"He obviously has a good sense of how to use his weight, how to drop it," Bryan Cox said. "He has functional strength. I don't how strong he is in the weight room, but on the field I see he has functional strength. He can handle his own in there at about 250 with Trenton Brown, who's like 360-something. That's a big boy. He can handle his own.

"He's learning, coming all the way from Casper, Wyoming. He's going through a little bit of a culture shock right now, so we're just trying to get him on our same level."

Bryan proved this spring that he can make an impact when the fall rolls around, and there have been plenty of freshmen to do it in recent years. The expectation for his impact just has to be realistic.

In 2012, Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard earned plenty of headlines before the season started. Fowler ended the season with eight tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Bullard had five tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks.

The big impact can happen, but more likely than not, the freshman season for a defensive end that gets on the field doesn't produce consistent results.

The next hurdle for Bryan will be his path to playing time. Fowler has one of the defensive end positions locked up. Cox's standout spring makes it likely that he'll be the other starting defensive end. Alex McCalister and Jordan Sherit will also fight for reps at defensive end, while Bullard and Joey Ivie will split time between defensive tackle and defensive end.

Without an obvious second defensive end and the Florida staff's interest in rotating defensive linemen, it would be a surprise if Bryan didn't get important reps this fall. What kind of an impact he makes is up to the freshman.

Fightin Gators Top Stories