Gator Position Analysis: LB Strengths & Weaknesses

For the next couple of weeks we’ll take a look at each position on the Florida Gator football roster and talk about their strengths and weaknesses as we head into the 2016 season.  There was a lot of turnover on both sides of the ball in terms of personnel, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Today we’ll talk about the linebacker position.

Expected Contributors: Senior Jarrad Davis (6-2, 240), Senior Daniel McMillian (5-1, 227), Senior Alex Anzalone (6-3, 237), Redshirt Junior Matt Rolin (6-3, 220), Redshirt Freshman Kylan Johnson (6-1, 228), Redshirt Freshman Rayshad Jackson (6-0, 220), Freshman David Reese (6-0, 239), Freshman Jeremiah Moon (6-4, 210), Freshman Vosean Joseph (6-2, 207), Redshirt Junior Cristian Garcia (6-1, 233)

Strengths: The strength at linebacker is in the top end talent. Especially when talking about Jarrad Davis. The senior inside linebacker is an All-Star candidate and if he stays healthy should have a banner year in Florida’s defense. He’s a head hunter and the true leader of the defense.

If healthy, a lot is expected of Alex Anzalone. The issue with Anzalone has been the lack of time on the field due to injuries. The staff loves him and think almost as much of him as Davis. He and Davis have elite size at linebacker and both are like coaches on the field.

There is a lot of athleticism still in the unit. If you were to build your own linebacker physically and with athletic ability you would build one like Daniel McMillian. McMillian’s issue has been keeping his head in the game, but they feel he is doing a much better job of that.

Matt Rolin has the length and nastiness to be a good one. Another guy with injury issues, if he could stay healthy he is a good one that can bring something to the unit.

Kylan Johnson and David Reese are two that came on in the spring and look to be very solid contributors this season. Both are quick learners and both have good size to play as freshmen in the SEC. Walk-on Cristian Garcia surprised in the spring and the Miami native looks to get on the field some this year. How much is yet to be determined, but he’s an older guy that has some size to him as well.

It is still a wait-and-see on Rayshad Jackson who has done everything the staff has asked and is on the verge of being a contributor.  Jeremiah Moon and Vosean Joseph are two guys it is too early to call right now. We’ll know more when they go through fall camp in August.

Weaknesses: The main weakness is the vulnerability of an Anzalone and Rolin and their injury situations. If they can stay healthy that weakness is negated and this will be a very strong unit. Beyond that, the lack of experience behind those two, Davis, and McMillian is non-existent, so something they have to work through and get those young guys on the field early in the season.  

Comparison to 2015: The big difference is the loss of Morrison. However, if you are talking preseason, remember we didn’t even know if Morrison was going to play a year ago until he actually got on the field in September. I believe Davis is ahead of anything the Gators started last year with. Anzalone is just about as good if he stays healthy. If McMillian has his head on straight, he can be a disruptive force. Rolin should be a steady guy, not spectacular, but allow them to plug him in when they need him. Can Johnson, Reese, and Garcia be difference makers? If any one of them come through, this unit should be better than a year ago.

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