JUCO players thriving on defensive line
Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.
Florida has had very limited success with junior college players in the past. That trend may be changing.
At defensive tackle, a position of need, the Gators are receiving a big boost this spring from two JC players — senior Damien Jacobs and junior Darious Cummings, former teammates at East Mississippi Community College.
“I've been very pleased with Damien Jacobs,” UF coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “He's played very square on blocks, doing a nice job of anchoring and playing the double teams and keeping his gaps. I think he's playing his best football since he's been here.
“I think Darious Cummings is probably a little further ahead of where Damien was this time last year, so that's promising for us. Not where he needs to be, let's not get that confused, but certainly ahead of where Damien was at this time last spring. That's promising.”
Cummings and Jacobs were two of numerous players Muschamp singled out Tuesday for having a strong spring. The others were offensive linemen Max Garcia and Tyler Moore, tight end Clay Burton, tailback Matt Jones, fullbacks Hunter Joyer and Gideon Ajagbe, defensive end/linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., middle linebacker Antonio Morrison, safety Marcus Maye and cornerback Marcus Roberson.
Muschamp said Roberson looks like a different player.
“Marcus Roberson is up to 193, 194 (pounds),” Muschamp said. “He's changed his upper body. It's gotten stronger.
“He's better on the line of scrimmage in press (coverage). He's more disruptive on receivers and routes. He's made some strides.”
Ajagbe has been one of the surprises of the spring after making the move to fullback from outside linebacker. He's up to 243 pounds.
“I've been very pleased with Gideon,” Muschamp said. “He's a guy that's done some nice things in the two-back stuff that we've been doing as far as the run blocking and things.
“To be in a new position, I'm very pleased with him.”
Muschamp said Fowler and Morrison have taken their game to a new level after having productive true freshman seasons in 2012.
“Dante Fowler is playing well,” he said. “He's rushing the passer well. He's understanding when we're in our 3-4 stuff standing up and moving around.
“Antonio Morrison is having a really good spring. He's been very consistent in his performance across the board.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.