Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports

Thumbs up for Gators' Jeremiah Moon in 2017

He was headed for a lot of playing time in 2016 despite all the talent that Florida had at the linebacker position. As a true freshman Jeremiah Moon played in a couple of games to start the year, then injured a thumb so bad he had to miss the rest of the season. It wasn’t the best of scenarios for Moon, but he’s better for it now and ready to do big things in 2017.

The injury happened in practice in a regular drill that the linebackers go through. Grabbing a loose ball at the ground, he jammed his thumb. He said he felt it pop and it swelled a bit and that was it for Jeremiah Moon as far as playing for the rest of the season.

Moon says he learned a lot from the experience, both good and bad.

“It was sad, but at the same time it was humbling just to know that the game can be taken away from you,” Moon said following the Gators’ Orange and Blue Debut Friday night in which he played well. “It’s really, cherish every moment you have out there. I’m all right now. It’s a new year, so I’m ready to get out there.”

After a small amount of time, he was able to get back to practice without contact and then eventually able to practice, albeit too far into the season to get him on the field again.

"I mean, I was all right. I was mad, but it was good to just get mental reps from guys like Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone and all them boys,” he said. “Overall, it was just a blessing in disguise. I guess when I got back, I was on the scout team and playing against the ones. It made me better, so everything works out."

With the aforementioned Davis and Anzalone headed to the NFL, the Gators are looking for young linebackers to step in and fill the void. Moon is one of the young guys that have drawn praise from anyone that has seen him practice.

The redshirt freshman has a unique physical skill set and it was on display Friday night for the world to see. He ran sideline to sideline to make tackles and was tied for team lead with tackles in the scrimmage. He showed cover skills and the ability to bring a punch when he meets the ball carrier.

“I bring length and speed and just versatility,” he said. “Just dropping back in coverage and coming off the edge a couple of times throughout the spring. I just think I'm a little diverse."

Coverage assignments come from playing the Sam linebacker or even a little Nickel on defense. As a Nickel, this 6-foot-4, 230 pounder will be forced to cover slot receivers.

“I'm playing mostly Sam, but if the Nickel is not in the game, I'll be the cover guy,” he said. “It's just whatever he calls, regular or Nickel. I mean, I'll go out there and cover. The coaches have a little bit of faith in me."

Picture this massive framed linebacker trying to cover Brandon Powell in space. Moon says it is something he looks forward to.

“That's the fun part,” he said about covering the slot guys. “It's challenging. I'm challenging myself, like by going up against the ones when I was on the scout team last year."

“Just good to know that you know you’re going up against the best in college in B.P. and (Antonio) Callaway and Dre Massey and Tyrie (Cleveland). All of them in the slot, just playing against them makes me better.”

With all of his ability, Moon believes he wasn’t playing as well as he could have the last month or so.  

“I felt like I could have had a better spring just because I was trying to get in the groove of things,” he said. “I need to prove that I'm here to do what I'm here to do and what they recruited me for."

He also knows that he will have to work hard to get on the field. As much as the loss of Anzalone and Davis are big ones, there is some talent waiting in the wings with guys like David Reese, Vosean Joseph, and Kylan Johnson.  It’s a group that Moon thinks can be pretty darn good in 2017.

“We can be amazing,” he said about the Gator linebackers. “We can be as good as we want to be. Just making the right decisions and going to meetings on time and just getting the stuff out of meetings is just the big thing.”

 

 


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