Bryan Cox, Jordan Sherit, Keivonnis Davis, Justus Reed, and Jabari Zuniga all return as defensive ends for Florida and all were expected to hit the field early and often for the Gators. None of that has changed. But, true freshman Jachai Polite, who just arrived on campus in June, has his eyes on seeing this year too. By all accounts that is going to happen.
"Jachai, that guy's a good football player,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain told the media earlier this week. “He's very smart, very intelligent and he picked it up quickly. Obviously, as you guys see him walk by, size wise, he fits what you're looking for and he's really a good athlete. He played both ways. He was a really good basketball player in high school as well. He's a rising star for us as the program goes forward.”
Polite came in as probably the least heralded of the three freshmen defensive ends which include Antonneous Clayton and Jordan Smith. Smith got a big jump start on things by arriving in January. While all three could play this year and is something I expect, it appears Polite will get the first reps of the three.
"Jachai Polite man, I feel like he’s going to be good, man,” said Florida starting offensive tackle David Sharpe. “He’s so strong to be that young. He’s going to be a problem."
"He’s stood out the most. I feel like him and Antonneous go hard every day and they give us a good look on our scout team."
Jordan Sherit sits atop the depth chart at the defensive end spot that Polite plays and he sees a lot to like in the young man, knowing that bigger things are ahead for him once he gets some game time under his belt.
“He’s actually my locker mate, I talk to him a lot,” Sherit said. “He’s a good guy. The guy loves football and if you love the game like he does, you’re passionate about it and you work hard, the rest is going to come easily and it has for him. That’s why he’s probably stood out as one of the freshmen and he’s only gonna get better. For him it’s the game slowing down, what we’ve talked about, but it’s only going to get better for him. I’m excited to see him on the field.”
“He definitely has all the intangibles that you need and look for. I think more than anything it’s just being able to play the next play. He forgets about it and goes to the next play as hard as he went on the first one. That mentality separates him and it’s something you look for in a defensive lineman.”
The good news for Polite is that defensive line coach Chris Rumph regularly uses every lineman that he believes can help, he plays more players than most. It is likely we get a big look at Polite in week one and if he does well that will continue.
You win games in the trenches and what is good for Polite is good for the Gators.