Earl Okine Showing Versatility

About 10 days ago we had an article with Gator defensive line coach Dan McCarney talking about the move of Earl Okine to tackle. McCarney felt the redshirt freshman had a better future inside.

Last week I posted on one of the forum "threads" that I still believed Okine was better suited for end, particularly when you look at the 2010 candidates on the defensive line and the likelihood that tackle will be much deeper than end at that time.

Saturday those thoughts were reinforced when Earl Okine spent the entire scrimmage at defensive end, despite the tackle position being without Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders and Brandon Antwine. For his part Okine seems fine with doing whatever is asked of him, but talking with him afterwards there was no question where he would like to be.

LV: Earl you were back outside today is that a permanent switch back?

EO: "Oh no, it's just where they wanted to put me. I'm still a D-tackle and an end. He just put be out there because of all the injuries and stuff."

LV: Comfort-wise, do you feel a little more comfortable at end? You seemed to be flying around pretty good out there.

EO: "Yeah, I'd say I'm more comfortable at end, but I'm still getting used to D-tackle and I'll get it down soon."

LV: Tackles are not normally as tall as you are (6-7). How hard is it for you to stay low when you're lined up inside?

EO: "It's pretty hard to stay low. I'm trying to learn how to do it by bending my knees more and work the techniques they're showing me."

LV: Coach McCarney is pretty hard to please isn't he?

EO: "He's a perfectionist man, but that's just going to make all of us better."

LV: Where's the hunger coming from for a defense that has everyone back from a national championship team?

EO: "Coach Mac is always pushing us to be the best and we can not come out any day in practice and be flat. He's a great motivator and an excellent coach. Sometimes you hate him and sometimes you love him. Most of the time you hate him, but he's going to make us better."

LV: As you go through that do you feel like you've had a good spring?

EO: "I feel like I'm getting better. I think my pass rush had gotten better, but now I have to get used to the defensive tackle position so I can play a significant amount during the season."

It's not often players admit they hate their position coach, but almost all of them do at what point or another. It's not venomous, but more the cumulative effect of being pushed and pushed like they've never been pushed before. Earl Okine has the frame and he's done a good job building on it, now up to an impressive looking 275 pounds. He'll have to improve by leaps and bounds to be able to earn a great deal of playing time in 2009, but the following year the Gainesville High School product may well be a key part of the Gator defensive line.

And if he is, there'll be nothing but love for the position coach who helped to get him there.

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