Spring practice for the Florida Gators football program begins on Wednesday, March 13 and lasts for 15 practices concluding with the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game on Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. Below is the second half of OGGOA‘s new two-part series that takes a look at the team on a position-by-position basis.
PART ONE: Offense
Returning starters (0/2): None
Fresh faces: Junior Darious Cummings, redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams
The Gators have plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball and it will be up to new defensive line coach Brad Lawing and assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young to figure out how to plug up the middle. With Sharrif Floyd set to become a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and Omar Hunter finally graduating after five years at the school, Florida will be looking to replace both of its starters. Senior Damien Jacobs, a junior college transfer who played in 12 games during his first season with the Gators, likely has the edge for one of the jobs but will still go up against Cummings (a 2013 JUCO transfer from the same school as Jacobs), Williams and redshirt junior Leon Orr, all of whom will compete for the two positions.
Returning starters (1/2): Senior Dominique Easley
Fresh faces: Redshirt freshman Bryan Cox, Jr., redshirt freshman Alex McCalister, freshman Joey Ivie
Easley started all 12 regular season games at defensive tackle in 2011 and will be used inside some in 2013 despite starting 11 games at defensive end last season. His flexibility leaves the door open for a number of other players to make an impact. Sophomore Jonathan Bullard earned a pair of starts in 2012 and got rave reviews from the coaching staff; he is next in line to start and/or see major field time as a pure defensive end. McCalister, who won three Scout Team Player of the Week awards and was named Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Member at the team banquet in Dec. 2012, was praised by head coach Will Muschamp at the end of the season.
Florida’s defense also features a Buck, which can line up with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end or upright as a linebacker. (For the purpose of this feature, Buck has been included in this position group.) Redshirt junior Ronald Powell was praised as much as any member of the team in the 2012 offseason but wound up missing the entire campaign with consecutive ACL tears. Lerentee McCray started in his place but graduated after his redshirt senior season. Though Powell will not participate in spring practice, he will retake his role as starter in the summer assuming he is medically cleared. He will be joined by sophomore Dante Fowler, Jr. – Powell’s heir apparent – and McCalister.