Kan Li / Scout

Gator Wildcard Week: Reese / Johnson

Every day this week we are going to talk about one or more of the players on the 2016 Gators that can have a huge impact that hasn’t already done so. We are going to call this the Wildcard because there is a bit of the unknown. Thursday’s Wildcards are linebackers Kylan Johnson and David Reese.

How they got to Florida: Kylan Johnson was a real surprise commitment out of one of the premiere high school football programs in the country, Skyline in Dallas, Texas. A last weekend visit and with Randy Shannon and Geoff Collins in their first month or so on the job, they were able to convince Johnson to come for a visit just a day or two after committing to Kansas State. He loved the trip and what Florida had to offer and flipped his commitment from Kansas State on the Monday before signing day.

David Reese was pledged to Michigan for quite some time. After Jim Harbaugh decided that they needed offensive players to enroll early and Reese didn’t fit in those early enrollment plans. The Farmington, Michigan native went on a whirlwind tour of several schools in December, including Texas and Florida who fight it out until the end. Shannon really worked hard on this one and the entire family loved his approach, he enrolled in January of this year after committing.

Gator Wildcard Week: Duke Dawson (Saturday)

Gator Wildcard Week: Ahmad Fulwood (Sunday)

Gator Wildcat Week: Alex Anzalone (Monday)

Gator Wildcard Week: Mark Thompson (Tuesday)

Gator Wildcard Week: Taven Bryan (Wednesday)

What have they done at Florida:  Johnson arrived as a big safety a year ago and didn’t see the field behind a lot of talent. He started to grow physically and it was only a matter of time before he would be moved to linebacker. That move came just before the spring. He was active during the spring but was learning. Then he had a coming out party of sorts at the Orange and Blue where he led the entire defense with eight tackles. He looked to be everywhere and not afraid to stick his nose inside where he was supposed to.

Reese was talked about all spring. Florida head coach Jim McElwain praised his intelligence and work ethic and just his overall ability to learn and know what to do. He’s got SEC size already clocking in at 240 pounds and he is expected to contribute right away at a position that needs depth and right away.



Why are they Wildcards: Johnson fits the mold well because nobody heard much or expected much throughout the spring. If he can produce anything close to what he did in the spring game, he makes a big impact on the defense this year. We haven’t seen it in real game action, so that is what we are waiting on.

For Reese, it is all about the speed of the game rather than practice. He catches on quick, but when you are playing in The Swamp on Saturdays in the fall, things are moving at a whole new level. Expectations are high for the young man, but that is all they are at this time. 

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