Morrison adapting at middle linebacker


Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 6:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 6:13 p.m.

Had Jelani Jenkins returned for his senior season, he was going to move from outside linebacker to middle linebacker, where he would replace Jon Bostic.

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Florida's Antonio Morrison (3) and Kelvin Taylor (21) lock up during a drill at spring practice. Morrison has made the move from outside linebacker to middle linebacker this spring.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer

When Jenkins decided to leave early for the NFL, the coaches' next choice at middle linebacker was obvious — true sophomore Antonio Morrison, who played outside linebacker as a true freshman in 2012.

“Correct,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Thursday.

Morrison seems to best fit the mold. Not only does he have the size (229 pounds), speed and athletic ability required to man the middle, he's also perhaps the biggest, most devastating hitter on the UF defense.

Durkin said it hasn't been a major adjustment for Morrison.




“For us, our Mike and Will linebacker spots are pretty much similar in most things we do,” he said. “Obviously, there's some difference, but they're pretty similar

“Those positions are mirrored for us. We have Mike Taylor and Antonio Morrison both playing at Mike and Will right now, and both of those guys do a great job. They've played for us in games and done a great job.”

As a true freshman last season, Morrison delivered the hit of the year for the Gators — a thunderous shot on EJ Manuel that forced a fumble and knocked the FSU quarterback out of the game for a few plays in the fourth quarter in Tallahassee.

Durkin said the coaches knew early last spring that Morrison was a player.

“The first day we put pads on,” Durkin said. “The first day he was allowed to hit someone. He made it very clear that he likes hitting people. We like people who like hitting people on defense.

“He made that statement very clear early on. The players recognize it, the coaches recognize it. We knew we had something there, a guy that was going to play and help us.”

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