Bullard working to become complete player
Published: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 11:33 p.m.
Jonathan Bullard didn't come up with the nickname.
But the Florida sophomore defensive end is OK with being known as one half of the “Bash Brothers.” Sophomore teammate Dante Fowler Jr., another highly touted defensive lineman, coined the moniker after talking about the future the two could have together.
“He just came up with that, and I was like, 'Yeah, that's got a good twang to it',” Bullard said.
Bullard is hoping to do more bashing in 2013. A strong run-stopper on the edge, Bullard finished with 27 tackles, including five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in limited snaps as a freshman.
“Jon-Jon is like my brother,” Fowler said. “That's just who he is. We were two good guys coming out of high school. We told each other we were going to face the fact (that) we were going to be compared to each other a lot.
“Jon-Jon brings some stuff to the table that he does well. I bring some stuff to the table that I do well. He's a great run stopper. I'm a great pass rusher.”
But Bullard's goal is to become a more complete defensive lineman in 2013. He's been working with new Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing on his pass rush technique in an effort to boost his sack total.
“He's done a lot of stuff with my hands and my hip work,” Bullard said. “Me being a bigger end (6-foot-3, 265 pounds), I didn't always have the best hips last year, really setting the edge of the pass rush. I was more of like a run stop guy last year, but I feel like my hips are getting better this year.”
Bullard also is aware he could see more double-teams this season.
“You have to work to go through that, work to get better at it,” Bullard said. “Me coming in last year, coming out of high school, there really weren't a lot of double-teams.”
With Fowler and Bullard and defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell (six sacks in 2011) back healthy from a torn ACL, Florida is hoping to get to the quarterback more often. The Gators finished ninth in the Southeastern Conference in sacks in 2012 with 30.
“We had a good pass rush last year, but of course, we want to be better and get better every year,” Bullard said. “So having Powell back and Fowler on the end and us going, we're going to be pretty good.”
Bullard said he welcomes the increased responsibility as a projected starter this season.
“I have to set examples for the younger guy that's coming in,” Bullard said. “It makes me just want to push myself that much harder, to show them that it takes work. It's a different level than high school, which I experienced fast, being thrown (into college football) that fast. Just stepping up, trying to be a good role model.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.