Sophomore defenders stepping up for Gators
Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 at 12:17 a.m.
When Florida lines up against Ohio State for the 2012 Gator Bowl, expected to start are six true sophomores — fullback Trey Burton; defensive linemen Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd; and defensive backs Matt Elam, Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs.
“Without getting specific, there's no question that the majority of our playmakers are in that (sophomore) class,” Muschamp said. “You look at it offensively, defensively and special teams of guys that really contributed to our football team, really seventy percent of our roster is freshmen and sophomores. That's exciting for our future. Again, I like where we're headed.”
Muschamp praised the progress of Powell, a former Rivals.com, five-star prospect, who has not yet fulfilled expectations generated from his recruiting hype. So far the chiseled Californian has amassed 30 tackles and a team-high five sacks this season.
“I think he played better as the year rolled on,” Muschamp said. “He's been having a nice bowl practice as the days have progressed. I told him the other day that he had his best practice since we have been here – as far as pad level, hand placement, affecting the quarterback in the rush. He always plays with good effort and with toughness.”
Against Florida State, Powell logged five tackles — two for a loss — and forced a fumble.
“As with a lot of the guys, I thought he got better as the season went on,” Quinn said. “When we went into the bye (week), we looked at some things he needed to improve. I thought we saw that. He's had a terrific bowl practice.”
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