Defensive personnel that need a strong finish
The Gators plan for a reload on defense this year. Despite a likely few loses to the early rounds of the NFL Draft, Florida feels confident that this defense can be as good as or better than a year ago. If that is going to happen, they are going to have to need some strong finishes this spring from several players that lead to strong starts in the fall. Here is who we believe needs to step up and finish strong this spring.
Sophomore Keivonnis Davis had his redshirt pulled in the last four games a year ago. Despite getting to school in August, a couple of months behind most of his recruiting classmates, he was the guy they got on the field late in the season. With about 25 pounds added on, Davis has had a good spring as well and they need that to continue. He plays the RUSH end and a guy that can get after the passer or drop in coverage if he needs to.
Redshirt freshman Jabari Zuniga was the talk of the offseason. The strong side end seemed to be doing everything right heading into March. However, it has been pretty quiet on the Zuniga front since the start of spring. I have little doubt that defensive line coach Chris Rumph will get him on the field this year, but getting him playing at a high level is a big priority to finish spring.
Florida feels great about senior Joey Ivie and redshirt junior Caleb Brantley, but the odds are very high that both will be gone after this season. CeCe Jefferson will also get some playing time this year and he is a high motor, high level player already as a sophomore.
Bryan is the quick guy with the relentless motor. He’s been working on his consistency in terms of technique, but that has been coming. If he finishes spring the way he started spring, they will be in great shape with Bryan as a guy that is a play maker up front.
Clark is the big bodied 320-pounder that they would love to be the future at the NOSE> He played a good bot last year as Rumph utilized a lot of personnel, so he can draw on that experience. We haven’t heard much about him this spring, so getting him to step up his game is a priority.
The last member of the 2013 linebacker class is redshirt junior Matt Rolin. Sidelined by injuries for most of his career, he played in the last four games a year ago and finished strong. Like McMillian, he has had a solid spring, but needs to keep up the momentum and make a statement to end the spring.
True freshman David Reese arrived early in January and has been a big story this spring. At 240 pounds, he has the size to play right away in the SEC and they are grooming him to do just that. Reese has been very quick to pick things up and now it is a matter of playing at full speed and not having to think about it at all. He is on the fast track to a lot of playing time this fall behind Davis at inside linebacker.
Fellow true freshman cornerback McArthur Burnett is another that really needs to have a strong finish. The numbers at corner are just so low and he showed up this spring with the same mindset as Gardner in that he isn’t playing scared. A tremendous athlete, he is small, but he can play and will in 2016.
Sophomore corner Chris Williamson was slowed a year ago because he was worried about making mistakes. He came in this spring with a different mindset and that has paid dividends. They absolutely have to have Williamson ready in the fall; therefore he really needs to finish strong this spring.