Defensive Two-Deep Very Young

Yesterday we offered up thoughts on the current two deep on the Florida offense, and truth be told there were not a lot of difficult decisions there. However in rebuilding the Florida defense there are a number of tough calls. Many of those debates center on the age old issue of veterans who have paid their dues versus more talented younger players with higher "ceilings".

Florida has more than its share of those type of issues, especially in the front seven where there is only one starter and a few reserves back from the 2006 unit. So after one week of practice we take our first stab at determining who will be the starters and first reserves on the Florida defense this fall.

First Team Defense

Ends, Derrick Harvey and Jermaine Cunningham ----- It's tempting to plug a true freshman in here, but so far Cunningham has held serve at the end opposite the Gators lone pre-season All-American. His play is crucial to keep teams from loading up on Harvey.

Tackles, Javier Estopinan and Lawrence Marsh ----- Javy is a favorite among the coaches and his teammates with his work ethic and relentless effort. Marsh is potentially a star with size, speed and just enough nastiness. There's a nice mix here with a veteran and young talent.

Linebackers Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe and Lorenzo Edwards ----- My first "out there" assignment plus Edwards right into the starting lineup. He has size, speed and excellent instincts in pass defense. I'm not yet convinced which guy should play which spit, but I'm leaning towards keeping Doe at WLB, moving Spikes to SLB and playing Edwards in the middle. This unit is physically superior to last year's.

Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Markihe Anderson ----- Haden was a revelation during spring practice and is a supremely talented rookie. Haden has as much talent as Dee Webb and Avery Atkins and that's a bunch. Anderson does a fine job in coverage and is learning to be more physical.

Safeties Tony Joiner and Jamar Hornsby ----- Everybody is rooting for Kyle Jackson to have a big senior year, but I just like Hornsby's big play potential. Plus his size in the back line can be a tad intimidating. Joiner is poised for an excellent senior season.

Second Team Defense

Ends Justin Trattou and Carlos Dunlap ----- It took defensive line coach Greg Mattison two practices to being raving about Trattou's fundamentals and coach ability. Dunlap has all the tools to be a Kevin Carter-like outside rusher and run defender.

Tackles Terron Sanders and Clint McMillan ----- Like the first team selections at this position a hard-working veteran is paired with a talented redshirt freshman. Sanders has had some struggles with the sun and heat, but looks a lot better than he did last year and should see the field quite a bit. Brandon Antwine and true freshman Torrey Davis will also be heard from before long.

Linebackers Ryan Stamper, A.J. Jones and Brandon Hicks ----- Stamper gives the Gators a veteran off the bench while Jones appears to be completely healthy after a severe ankle injury. Hicks gets a slight nod over the other true rookies on the Florida squad. This trio shows how important it is for the Gators to load up on linebackers in recruiting.

Cornerbacks Markus Manson and Wondy Pierre-Louis ----- There is a lot of speed in this tandem and a world of potential. Manson is trying to make this his home after spending most of his football life as a running back. Pierre-Louis has just three years of football experience after leaving his native Haiti and has unbelievable potential.

Safeties Dorian Munroe and Kyle Jackson ----- Florida's strongest and deepest position offers solid ability and experience in this second unit. Munroe will be part of nickel and dime packages while Jackson could still end up as the starter. Both better watch out for Major Wright who is bound to be a special teams star if nothing else.

That's my two deep at this stage including a few unique suggestions. What's yours look like?


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