Gators freshmen profiles: Defense

Florida freshmen football players went through orientation on Tuesday morning, and it’s an impressive crop of players on the defensive side.

Considering the two months Jim McElwain and his staff had to build its defensive recruiting class, they were able to fill needs and still get some star power.

Sebring (FL) HS defensive end Luke Ancrum (6-4, 220): With the frame to grow and play multiple spots on the defensive front, Ancrum could be an intriguing project for defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and defensive line coach Chris Rumph to work with. Ancrum’s name popped up late in the recruiting process, and while he may not be needed because of the depth on the defensive line this year, he does have a high upside with Rumph coaching him.

Miami Central (FL) HS defensive end Keivonnis Davis (6-3, 220): Another name that was unfamiliar to Florida fans until late in the process, Davis comes from a powerhouse program in South Florida. The Gators would love to get more involved in the Miami area, and Davis is an important way to make that happen. He’s also a quality player that will help the Florida pass rush in the future.

Pasco (FL) HS defensive tackle Andrew Ivie (6-2, 280): The younger brother of Florida defensive lineman Joey Ivie, Andrew will be one of the strongest freshmen on campus. He won state medals in weightlifting and wrestling, finishing second with a 735-pound total in weightlifting while benching 405 pounds and 330 pounds on the clean and jerk. He’s another one that likely won’t be asked to contribute immediately.

Baker County (FL) HS defensive end CeCe Jefferson (6-3, 258): The five-star signee took Florida fans on a roller coaster ride through his recruiting process but ultimately signed with the school he grew up loving. Jefferson is versatile but thrives as an edge rusher. Learning under Alex McCalister this year will be beneficial, but Jefferson is talented enough to get on the field from day one this fall.

Miami Norland (FL) HS linebacker Rayshad Jackson (6-2, 215): Linebacker was a big need in the 2015 class, but the staff elected to sign only Jackson instead of taking prospects they didn’t like as much just to fill numbers. That could mean Jackson gets a chance to play immediately if he learns fast. Randy Shannon played a big role in getting the under-the-radar prospect from Miami.

Skyline (TX) HS safety Kylan Johnson (6-3, 205): After playing quarterback and defensive back for a Texas high school football power, Johnson will move exclusively to the safety position. His athleticism is easy to see on film, giving defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan an exciting project to work with. His history at quarterback will give him an advantage in the secondary, understanding the reads quarterbacks normally go through.

Gainesville (GA) HS cornerback Chris Williamson (6-1, 185): Williamson went from a prospect with few offers heading into his senior year to one wanted by many SEC programs heading into signing day. The Gators pulled him away from staying instate and playing at Georgia. He’s a great athlete that could play both ways but he’ll be in the Florida secondary. The Gators lose a lot from the secondary after 2015, so it will be important for Williamson to get ready to battle for a starting job in 2016.

Sprayberry (GA) HS defensive end Jabari Zuniga (6-2, 265): Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins knew about Zuniga before taking the job and turned him into a priority soon after moving to Gainesville. His film shows an athlete with natural pass rushing ability that can continue to add weight and become a nightmare off the edge. This is the kind of project the Florida coaches will be excited to work with this fall.

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