SPRING: Young Gresham Making Transition

23 years ago Norm Sloan signed Darryl Gresham to a basketball scholarship to play for the University of Florida. Last year, Urban Meyer signed his son, Darryl Junior to a national letter-of-intent to follow his father's path to Gainesville. After a redshirt season, the one-time linebacker is learning the ropes as a defensive end and trying to make a mark this spring.

Gresham's move to defensive end could hardly be a surprise, considering he was a 250-pound linebacker in Roanoke, Virginia. He made over 300 tackles in his final two seasons, and more than ten of them were quarterback sacks. He has added about ten pounds to that frame since enrolling at Florida.

Florida's defensive end situation is solid with proven performers in Jarvis Moss and Ray McDonald coming off knee surgery. Add in Derrick Harvey and you have as good a top three as you could hope for. But Florida defensive line coach Greg Mattison is a greedy guy and he wants at least four ends ready for opening day. That means Gresham has an opening. I spoke with him recently about that opportunity.

LV: Darryl, how's the move to defensive end going for you?

DG: Oh, it's going good. It's a big adjustment but I'm just trying to look at the older guys in front of me and listen to Coach Mattison. Coach is a very good teacher so if I listen to what he's teaching me I should be alright.

LV: As a linebacker you are playing in space. At defensive end you are rarely if ever in space. Is that the biggest adjustment?

DG: It's a big part of it, learning to play with your hand down and someone right in front of you. Other than that, it's just playing football.

LV: What do you think your strengths are as a player?

DG: I think my strength is run stopping, but I can get better at everything. It's my first year at defensive end so I know I have to get a lot better.

LV: How are the guys on the d-line? Are any of them going out of their way to help you along?

DG: Everybody on the line has been great; from (Jarvis) Moss to Joe (Cohen) to (Derrick) Harvey and Marcus (Thomas). They're all trying to help me move on.

LV: So, have you talked with your dad since the Gators won the NCAA?

DG: Yeah, I talked to him. He said, "I told you Florida was a basketball school!" Really, he's very excited about it.

LV: Brandon Siler and some of the others told me they have really been affected by the Gators winning the title and it's motivating them to try and create a special celebration for the football team. Do you feel the same way?

DG: Yes, I feel that way. Congratulations to the basketball team and their win is a lot of motivation. But any time another program on campus wins a championship it gives the rest of us motivation. We all want to keep it up and make Florida look like they win championships in everything.

I asked Greg Mattison what he has seen in Gresham so far:

GM: Well Darryl is just now feeling what it's really like making the move from linebacker to end. You know he was a linebacker in high school and he didn't get a lot of reps at anything last year. Now he's getting a lot of reps, and everything you do, if it isn't good really sticks out. So he's seeing that now.

LV: What is the biggest adjustment he has to make?

GM: I think the biggest adjustment is just focusing on one thing. As a linebacker you're trained to see everything. As a defensive end if you do that you're not going to be very good. He's got to start focusing on one thing and that will tell him where everything else is going.

Obviously it's too early to make any bold pronouncements about Darryl Gresham and his ability as a defensive end. Florida likely won't call on him a great deal this fall, unless one of the top three guys goes down. But considering that Ray McDonald is a senior and both Moss and Harvey will be draft-eligible Florida's 2007 defensive line could need a big contribution from a guy whose dad owned one of the sweetest jump shots in UF history.

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