2010 Roster Breakdown: Defensive Line

Depth won't be the issue for the Florida defensive line this fall, but the ability to find playmakers will. The Gators lost 39 career sacks as both starting defensive ends move on to the NFL. Florida now heads into fall camp hoping to find a consistent pass rushing threat.

Justin Trattou serves as the only defensive end on the roster that has produced during meaningful snaps. That's how important Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap have been to the Florida program. Trattou heads into the fall with seven career sacks to his credit.

The senior played an integral role last season, serving as the nose tackle when the Gators used a three-man defensive line in their joker package. He is big enough to handle interior offensive linemen while also providing a pass rush. This fall, his most important role will come at defensive end.

Trattou has dropped some weight in the offseason in effort to get quicker. He has been solid against the run, but his play as a pass rusher is what must improve this season.

The starting defensive end spot across from Trattou looks like it will be decided during fall camp. If it's possible to be the favorite before putting pads on, Ronald Powell has put himself in position.

The true freshman has drawn rave reviews from the weight room, and they seem justified with his physical appearance. Powell is hovering around 250 pounds, but the trick for him is getting accustomed to the speed of offensive tackles he will face. That should come during camp as he lines up against Florida offensive tackles Marcus Gilbert and Xavier Nixon.

Senior Duke Lemmens will provide depth and leadership for the group. His motor won't quit, but this year he needs to be a consistent threat in the pass rush. He has two sacks in the three years of his career, both coming in 2008.

William Green came to school needing weight, and he is now above 250 pounds. Instead of gawking over physical attributes, this must be the year his size translates to sacks. The elite speed he shows in limited action during games must be disciplined this year, respecting the run instead of going after the quarterback most snaps.

Lerentee McCray is over 240 pounds, and a majority of the weight has come in his upper body. His arms look filled out, and his speed would be an asset to the defensive line.

Kedric Johnson still may not weigh enough to produce this season, even after a redshirt last year.

Year after year, everyone waits for Earl Okine to have his breakout season. The spring looked to be a perfect time for it with the lack of production at defensive end on the roster, but Okine struggled again and was moved to tight end in some situations.

Lynden Trail seemed to be a definite player to redshirt after his weight was kept down by running track during his senior year of high school. The weight has jumped on him since getting to Gainesville, now around 220 pounds. If the Gators struggle to get a pass rush, Trail could see the field.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: The Gators have a two-deep at defensive tackle that boasts four players who could start for most teams in the country.

Omar Hunter and Lawrence Marsh will battle to start at the one-technique position. Marsh started in 2008 when the Gators won the national championship, but an ankle injury kept him out of significant playing time in 2009. That allowed Hunter to start last season and emerge as a solid contributor.

Marsh is now healthy and ready to fight for the starting spot. Regardless of who wins it, the Gators will have plenty of depth. Marsh was a run stuffer in 2008, but Hunter has the quickness to provide a pass rush up the middle. They could be a perfect combination.

The three-technique spot will pit Terron Sanders and Jaye Howard against each other for the starting job. Sanders was the starter in 2008, but Howard started some in 2009 thanks to a good offseason and some injuries to Sanders.

Howard is the ideal three-technique because of his ability to get after the quarterback. He came to campus as a defensive end but moved inside after gaining weight. He maintains the pass rushing ability from the interior of the defensive line.

Sanders doesn't have the quick get-off like Howard does, but he is a fundamental player who can stuff the run and always be in position.

The upside is clearly in Howard's corner, but Sanders won't let him win the job with ease.

Brandon Antwine will be fully healthy at the start of fall practice. He has spent his entire Florida career battling injuries, but this year will be his final chance to be a consistent contributor. He was running around at the Gator Charity Challenge and looked healthy. He could be the most difficult defensive tackle on the team for the offensive line to move.

The depth at defensive tackle is evident when two of the top defensive linemen in the country signed with Florida and will start fall camp with the third team.

Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley have both impressed in their short time on campus. Their work ethic and attitude towards the workouts have impressed not only the coaches, but also the other players. Floyd is likely to play the one-technique, while Easley lines up at the three-technique.

They will provide depth this season, but their key year will come in 2011 when Marsh, Sanders and Antwine graduate.

Leon Orr has seen his body experience a transition in his short time on campus. He weighed over 330 pounds, and his body looked sloppy in the spring. He is now down to 309 pounds and looks the part physically.

BREAKOUT PLAYER: This will be the year Jaye Howard makes his mark. He has turned heads in the weight room already, and while things turned around for him near the end of 2009, this should be the year he has a complete season.

At defensive end, it has to be Ronald Powell. Most of the other players on the roster have shown what they can do, so it would make sense to let Powell start and begin adjusting to the college level.

ON POINT WITH BOB REDMAN: The inexperience at defensive end should be off-set by the experience and depth that the interior of the defensive line provides in 2010. With seven SEC quality defensive tackles on the roster, the Gators can afford to platoon the group and really make opposing offenses work hard. The fact that five of them have a great deal of experience is something Florida should be able to scheme around to help the lack of experience on the edge.

Trattou should be stout at the strong side end spot and should provide some play making ability which he showed in sports in the last couple of years. Lemmens lost a little weight in the off-season, no doubt to get quicker, and he will be asked to step up his game a great deal. Ronald Powell needs to be a difference maker here, the true freshman may be the most decorated defensive player out of high school that the Gators ever signed. If he can live up to half the hype, this defense will be very sharp up front.
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