Trattou Set to Lead the Defense

One of the main things you could count on from Tim Tebow as a quarterback was that he would be there to play, no matter what. As the nation watched Tebow suffer a horrific hit and concussion against Kentucky last season, the fact he played in the next game was a signature of his leadership. Defensive end Justin Trattou has earned the same type of admiration from his teammates.

In the third quarter of the Arkansas game, Justin Trattou completely ripped one of the bicep tendons in his left arm. It caused him to miss the rest of the game, much like Tebow. But, faster than anyone thought, The senior defensive end returned to the field with one arm weaker than the other and performed as well as could be expected.

With a huge knot of rolled up tendon near the top of his left arm, Trattou played through the pain as it healed and dealt with the fact that he couldn't get the arm any stronger at the time because he was playing through it.

"The one I have is ripped off and is now scarred over," Trattou told a grimacing group of media as they pictured the injury. "It was hard to get stronger playing every other day. Now that I have had time to heal, it is actually stronger than it was. My bench and pull ups are stronger than they were at this time last year.

"At the time it hurt, but within a week it was able to work. The main concern was if I could make it worse. They said it would hurt, but it won't hurt me in the long run, so I decided to play."

His ability to play hurt and keep going along with his relentless motor and winning attitude has made him one of the defensive commanders in the off-season.

"Any time you play injured you earn respect from the guys," Trattou said. "Me and (senior safety) Ahmad Black are leading the defense this winter.

Less than a month before spring, the team is preparing for another big season and getting themselves with yet another grueling off-season work out regimen.

"I feel like this might be the toughest since I've been here, but I feel like the team is working hard and setting our goals high," Trattou said about the spring workouts. "Every year we always have tough lifts at this time of year and this year it is no exception."

The Gators were the preseason favorites to win it all last season and held on to the No. 1 spot basically through the SEC title game where they lost mercilessly to Alabama. The game will certainly serve as motivation for Trattou and the Gators, but that isn't the only thing that will motivate.

"We are always going to remember that game and next year we are playing at their place," Trattou said. "It will be interesting...It is good to have an edge, but there is a whole bunch of things that are making us hungry."

The Gators lost a lot of big time personnel to graduation and leaving early to try their hand at professional football. Ten Gators are participating at the NFL combine this weekend and more than that could get drafted in May. The respect for the 2010 squad certainly isn't there compared to that of the 2009 Gators. That is something to motivate in and of itself.

"Last year we came in as the top dog, this year people are coming in and saying the Gators are going to have a rebuilding year," Trattou said. "We are just coming in and working hard and hope to prove everyone wrong.

"It is definitely a different team and a different group of guys, but we have a new group and are excited about this year. It's my senior year and losing guys like Stamper and Spikes, new guys have to step up and lead by example. We have to do what we have to do."

The Gator defense also lost two coaches and that will be an adjustment. Teryl Austin was brought in from the NFL as the defensive coordinator along with D.J. Durkin who came to Florida from Stanford to coach linebackers. These changes and the loss of dynamic players like Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, Major Wright, and Ryan Stamper, means there are a lot of changes that will be dealt with over the spring.

"We have some other talent on this team," Trattou was quick to point out. "Those were all-American type players, but it's not a talent issue, we just have to see how the guys perform this year. Any time you lose that much, everyone in their right mind is going to say its a rebuilding year. We will see this spring. We have a new coach and we will have to just get this going.

"...It will be a big spring, new coaches and they have to mold to our team. It is the same group of players and my coach never left, I think it is going to be a big year."

There is still a question out there about the return of Urban Meyer to the team, and when that might happen. Meyer is on a leave of absence to get better from some form of undisclosed illness. It has been listed as an undisclosed length of time but Meyer told a television audience last month that he would be back for spring practice.

Meyer placed offensive coordinator Steve Addazio at the helm in his absence and the players just aren't sure when Meyer might return.

"He is going to do what is best for him and his family and I hope the best for him," Trattou said. "I just know he is going to try and take care of himself and his family first. He put Coach Addazio in charge and I have all the trust in the world in him and he's doing a great job so far."

"We would love for him to be there (at spring practice), but we know he has to do what is right for him."


The Gators signed the nation's best defensive line haul in February. Defensive tackle Leon Orr is already on campus, but tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley along with ends Ronald Powell and Lynden Trail won't be in until June. Trattou knows that there are high expectations for the young group.

"I am excited for them to get here and start working with them," he said. "They are talented guys and it is exciting for the future of the defensive line at Florida."


Replacing Tim Tebow will be the biggest obstacle for this 2010 Gator squad. Junior John Brantley is ready to step up and Trattou believes Brantley can do a great job of leading the offense.

"I feel like he is going to do a great job," he said of Brantley. "He is training hard and has a lot of talent. He has been waiting his turn now and I think he will be great. From what I have seen he can throw the ball great. He doesn't look like he is that quick, but he is actually pretty fast."

Brantley will get the benefit of one player that decided not to jump to the NFL. Michael Pouncey stayed behind for his senior season while his twin Maurkice Pouncey decided to leave early to play professional football. Michael will move from right guard to center, vacated by last year's Rimington Trophy winner.

Trattou understands how much Michael Pouncey means to the line.

"He is really leading the offensive line and working hard," Trattou said of Michael. "It is definitely different without both of them there, but Mike is doing a good job."

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