A junior college transfer, defensive tackle Darious Cummings was always confident in his ability and chose the Florida Gators as his new team because there was an opportunity presented to see the field immediately if he proved himself in practice.
He just didn’t think he’d be playing this much.
With senior DT Dominique Easley sidelined for the remainder of the 2013 season after tearing his ACL in practice on Sept. 24, Cummings was penciled into his spot on the first-string defensive line and has stepped up in a major way.
Though he was noticeably absent from making notable plays against Kentucky two weeks ago, Cummings made some notable plays and finished Florida’s 30-10 win over Arkansas with a forced fumble, tackle for loss and quarterback hit.
He may not be an exact replacement for Ealsey, who was projected as a potential first-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft before going down with his injury, but Cummings is doing what he can to help lessen the impact of his teammate’s absence.
“Coach [Will] Muschamp actually kind of challenged us after Easley went down. He said somebody needs to step up and somebody needs to fill that void. I kind of felt like I took it upon myself because that’s why I was brought here, to replace people and step up,” Cummings said. “So I just took it upon myself to get better week in and week out.”
Cummings, a Florida State commitment when he left high school in 2010, had plenty of offers two years later when he finished up at East Mississippi Community College. He decided to follow in the footsteps of senior DT Damien Jacobs, who left EMCC for UF one year earlier and is now the second-string nose tackle.
The Gators heavily recruited Cummings – and Jacobs was certainly in his ear – but he said Tuesday that something he noticed during the Florida-Texas A&M game last season helped convince him that UF was the right place for him to continue his career.
“One of the reasons why I came here is because I watched the Texas A&M game last year and I saw how Coach Muschamp adjusted at halftime and put the clamps on Johnny Manziel,” he said.
Muschamp may be faced with a similar task on Saturday when Florida goes up against a high-powered LSU offense on the road at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.
Having Cummings in the fold could help make any halftime adjustments go a bit smoother…if any are needed at all for the Gators’ top-ranked defense.
“I thought Darious played very well [against Arkansas]. I really did,” Muschamp said on Monday. “I thought he played blocks extremely well, played square on the line of scrimmage, got good penetration inside. Probably as far as our inside guys are concerned, probably played the best game of our inside guys. Certainly did.”
If the man affectionately known as “Bear” has anything to say about it, his performance last Saturday will be the first of many top-notch efforts as he tries his best to step in for an irreplaceable player.