Defensive line shake-up working well for Gators

It was no surprise when the Florida Gators defensive line struggled last season after defensive tackle Dominique Easley, the star of the unit and a leader on the team, went down with a torn ACL during a late September practice.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp tried to fill in the gaps the best he could, but the Gators had issues stopping the run, getting to the quarterback or doing much of anything at times with their defensive front seven.

So while the offense is in the middle of an overhaul under new coordinator Kurt Roper, Muschamp and defensive line coach Brad Lawing are tweaking a unit that must make significant improvements if Florida is going to have substantial success in 2014.

Before the Gators could begin improving came the realization that they would have to do so without redshirt senior Leon Orr, who is not expected to be cleared until May 1 as he recovers from a fractured wrist he suffered last season.

Filling in for him on the interior is junior Jonathan Bullard, a defensive end who played some tackle in 2013 despite not actually having the desire to switch positions. Bullard admitted Tuesday that he was frustrated when Muschamp asked him to move inside because he had never played the position before and felt like his production would significantly decrease (which it ultimately did).

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Former Florida Gators participate in 2014 Pro Day

Thirteen former Florida Gators football players participated in Pro Day in Gainesville, FL on Monday though the event was not able to be held in front of the public at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as originally scheduled.

Due to heavy rain, Florida was forced to cancel the on-field workout and move things indoors. Players ran 40-yard dashes and participated in other drills on a rubber track inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center – many took their shoes off and ran barefoot – before returning to the practice field for some positional drills.

“That was a first,” said UF head coach Will Muschamp of seeing the players run barefoot. “Proud of those guys working hard, a great day for them. The culmination of a lot of work. Have a great opportunity to play in the National Football League. …

“You play football in the rain. Our guys, it’s amazing how many scouts [came out]. Last year, we had a cold day. This, year we had some rain. The scouts walk up and the coaches walk up, Mike Zimmer walks up and says, ‘Hey, I appreciate you guys working.’ That means a lot. Believe me, these guys are professionals; they understand the conditions and the things the guys go through. None of our guys bellyache; they go work, and I’m proud of them for their effort.”

Representatives from all 32 NFL teams were in attendance with 59 scouts reportedly in Gainesville on Monday. Unlike last season, when general managers and coaches did not attend because the Gators held Pro Day on the same day as the start of 2013 NFL free agency, a number found their way to The Swamp with Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan standing out as notable faces.

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Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Tuesday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Defensive backs Loucheiz Purifoy* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB44), Marcus Roberson* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB48) and Jaylen Watkins (Group: 11 | Camp: DB58) concluded their combine experience on Tuesday with the full workout, though Watkins only participated in one event.

* Junior

Check out Tuesday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Monday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (Group: 7 | Camp: DL09) and linebacker Ronald Powell* (Group: 9 | Camp: LB23) concluded their combine experience on Monday with the full workout, though Powell is the only one who participated as Easley is still rehabilitating from his ACL injury.

Defensive backs Loucheiz Purifoy* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB44), Marcus Roberson* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB48) and Jaylen Watkins (Group: 11 | Camp: DB58) competed in the bench press on Monday while also undergoing psychological testing, attending an NFLPA meeting and doing team interviews. They will complete the combine with the full workout on Tuesday; all three players are expected to participate.

* Junior

Check out Monday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Sunday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley* (Group: 7 | Camp: DL09) and linebacker Ronald Powell** (Group: 9 | Camp: LB23) competed in the bench press on Sunday while also undergoing psychological testing, attending an NFLPA meeting and doing team interviews.

Defensive backs Loucheiz Purifoy* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB44), Marcus Roberson* (Group: 11 | Camp: DB48) and Jaylen Watkins (Group: 11 | Camp: DB58) arrived at the combine on Saturday. They were officially measured, completed medical exams, met with the media and continued the interview process they began the previous day.

Check out Sunday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Saturday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com continues our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Offensive lineman Jon Halapio (Group: 1 | Camp: OL12), OL Jonotthan Harrison (Group: 1 | Camp: OL13) and tight end Trey Burton (Group: 3 | Camp: TE03) concluded their four days at the combine on Saturday by competing in the full workout (results below).

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley* (Group: 7 | Camp: DL09) and linebacker Ronald Powell** (Group: 9 | Camp: LB23), who both arrived at the combine on Friday, were officially measured, completed medical exams, met with the media and continued the interview process they began the previous day.

Check out Saturday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Florida Gators at 2014 NFL Combine: Thursday

For the fifth-straight year, OnlyGators.com begins our coverage of the eight former Florida Gators participating in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

Players began arriving on Wednesday but action did not begin until Thursday when offensive lineman Jon Halapio (Group: 1 | Camp: OL12), OL Jonotthan Harrison (Group: 1 | Camp: OL13) and tight end Trey Burton (Group: 3 | Camp: TE03) were officially measured, completed medical exams, met with the media and continued the interview process they began the previous day.

Halapio, Harrison and Burton will remain on mostly the same schedule throughout the week. The trio will continue interviews on Friday, take the Wonderlic and other psychological tests, and perform on the bench press. On Saturday, they will participate in the on-field workout before departing Indianapolis.

Check out Thursday’s results from the 2014 NFL Combine…after the break!
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Eight Florida Gators invited to 2014 NFL Combine

Updated on Friday at 9:00 p.m.

The official list of invitees was released by National Football Scouting on Friday, and eight former Florida Gators have officially been invited to participate in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 19-25, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to a major job interview for these athletes to participate in ahead of the start of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

The eight former Gators student-athletes invited to the NFL Combine include:

Tight end Lawrence (Trey) Burton – Group: 3 | Camp: TE03
Offensive lineman Jonathan (Jon) Halapio – Group: 1 | Camp: OL12
Offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison – Group: 1 | Camp: OL13
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley** – Group: 7 | Camp: DL09
Linebacker Ronald Powell* – Group: 9 | Camp: LB23
Defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB44
Defensive back Marcus Roberson* – Group: 11 | Camp: DB48
Defensive back Jaylen Watkins – Group: 11 | Camp: DB58

* Junior
** Easley (torn ACL) will not participate in the NFL Combine.

Notable names apparently left off the invite list include: wide receiver Solomon Patton, DT Damien Jacobs, LB Darrin Kitchens and OL Kyle Koehne.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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