Austin Looking for Another Starter

When Teryl Austin accepted the job to join the Florida Gators' coaching staff, he knew that he was going to be the defensive coordinator. What he didn't know is he would have the tough task of trying to find former Gator Joe Haden's replacement.

It was uncertain heading into spring practice what position some of the defensive coaches would be working with, but Teryl Austin has taken control over the cornerbacks.

Junior Janoris Jenkins is a sure thing at one of the cornerback spots, but Haden's departure leaves the job opposite Jenkins open.

With nobody coming back with much experience, the position will be up for any player to take.

"Anybody that dresses is a candidate, but I think we are going to let it play out over the course of spring," Austin said. "The nice thing is it is an open competition, so guys will be competing hard and it will let the best person win the job."

Although there is nobody with much experience, there are players who have been in the program for a while. Senior Moses Jenkins and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown came to UF with high expectations, but have not done much to leave up to them.

Just because they have some experience on newcomers like Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins, that doesn't mean they have an advantage on the younger players.

"You would like guys who have been in the program step up," Austin said. "It's good for the program as you mature in the program that you are getting better as a player and you step in and play, but I have no reservations playing a young guy if he is the best guy."

Both players lost a chance to gain more experience last season due to injury. Moses Jenkins suffered a concussion during the Kentucky game and missed most of the season. Brown has yet to play his in first two seasons at Florida because of a back injury.

"They have been fine. Obviously there is no hitting right now, so with the concussion issue, that is something you won't know about until we start hitting. And Jeremy has been progressing with his injury and he looks fine," Austin said.

In just the two practices they have worked with Austin, both players have already made good impressions with their new coach.

"It's going to take some time, but I'm excited about what I have seen so far. He is moving great and doesn't look like his missed a beat," Austin said of Brown.

"The thing that I have seen him do is he moves really well, he's a big, tall corner who moves really well on the ball. He has some good skills," Austin said of Jenkins.

Even though Austin is still unsure who will win that position battle, he has the luxury of having one the best corners in the nation opposite whoever does earn the job.

Janoris Jenkins has been a great complement to Haden in his first two seasons as a Gator, but this season the Gators not only need him to continue his success but take on a new role.

"We need him to play his game, to be a leader, to be the guy that people look to for advice," Austin said.

With Haden and Janoris Jenkins, the Gators have been able to rely heavily on man coverage the past two years, which has given them the ability to blitz more freely. But with the other corner spot still up in the air, Austin does not know yet if UF will be able to continue running man.

"We are going to do what we think is best for our team," Austin said. "If we can play man coverage, obviously that would be great because you take air out of routes and make the quarterback have tighter windows to throw in."

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