The numbers are tight this spring with just seven healthy scholarship players playing in the secondary due to injuries and those guys moving on. With that in mind, guys that weren’t doing a whole lot last year like junior Chris Williamson, senior Joseph Putu, redshirt freshman McArthur Burnett, redshirt freshman C.J. McWilliams, and even sophomore Chauncey Gardner who will be asked to play different positions are getting a ton of reps.
Senior safety Nick Washington will have to help lead the guys in the secondary, but says they are stepping up big early this spring.
“The young guys, they’re coming along really well,” Washington said after practice last week. “They’re communicating really well. We gotta communicate, you know from the safeties to the corners to the linebackers to the D-line. We’re trying to take that role in the leadership. And you know that’s about it.
“Everyone’s competing. And everyone’s communicating. Everyone’s willing to listen. They wanna learn. They wanna get the defense down, so everything’s going well.
“I think everyone that we have on the field has been playing. Toward the end of the season, everyone got a lot of playing time. Everyone’s making plays out there. So the first few days have gone well.”
Despite five gone form the back seven to the NFL. Washington believes this 2017 version of the defense can be just as good as the 2016 top 10 defense Florida had.
“I think we can be just as good if not better,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys stepping up, making plays and we’ve altered the defense a little bit.”
He understands that he has to help lead the young guys along, but he says the biggest thing he can do is make himself better and make sure he does the right things on the field when called upon to do so.
“Just making more plays on the ball, you know reacting faster, playing faster,” he said about wanting to make himself a better player. “For the early enrollees and the younger players it’s just leading the right way, it’s not as much vocal as leading by example.”
“(I just want) to top last year. Everyone can always get better… faster, stronger. Learn the defense better. Make more plays on the ball and just continue to make great plays and tackling.”