Florida position breakdown: Linebackers

UF has experienced linebackers, but lack of depth could be issue

Antonio Morrison (3) and Michael Taylor (51) bring versatility and experience to the UF linebacking corps.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/File
Published: Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 9:54 p.m.

The upside



This is the fourth part in a seven-part series. Offensive line will be covered next Sunday.

The Gators' top four linebackers — Neiron Ball, Jarrad Davis, Antonio Morrison and Michael Taylor — all have extensive playing experience, with a combined 33 starts, and have trained at all three positions. Taylor has the most experience (12 starts) and has started at both middle linebacker and weakside linebacker. Neiron Ball really came on in the second half last season and has shown a lot of playmaking ability with his speed and athleticism. By the end of last season, Davis, a true freshman, may have been the Gators' best linebacker (and biggest hitter). Based on what he showed last fall and again in the spring, Davis has a chance to develop into an elite defensive player in the SEC. Morrison also has that kind of potential, but needs to prove himself again coming off a true sophomore season in which he underachieved. Daniel McMillian struggled as a true freshman, but has learned the system and started making plays in the spring. Alex Anzalone struggled with injuries and saw limited playing time as a true freshman in 2013. He's a former five-star recruit who could see significant time at middle and outside linebacker. Matt Rolin, another true freshman in 2013, was expected to see significant playing time, but his season was ended by an ACL injury in camp.

The downside

Depth is a serious concern. The Gators have only eight scholarship linebackers and two of them — Rolin and Jeremi Powell — are coming off ACL surgeries last fall. For Rolin, it was his second major knee surgery in less than a year. Anzalone also has struggled with injuries and gained very little experience last season. Morrison flashed star power as a true freshman two years ago, but fell into a slump last fall and never was the player the coaches were expecting him to be. He bounced back with a strong spring. Now, he'll have do it on the field this fall.

Young guy to watch

If (and it's a big if) Rolin can stay healthy, he has a chance to be a major contributor. He was on schedule to play as a true freshman last year before he hurt his knee. The coaches really like his athletic ability and tenacity, and he could help improve the Gators' outside pass rush. It may all depend on how his knees hold up.


Weakside linebacker

51-Michael Taylor

40-Jarrad Davis

13-Daniel McMillian

34-Alex Anzalone

Middle linebacker

3-Antonio Morrison

51-Michael Taylor

34-Alex Anzalone

Strongside linebacker

11-Neiron Ball

28-Jeremi Powell

9-Matt Rolin


1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. S. Carolina

4. LSU

5. Miss. St.

6. Florida

7. Tennessee

8. Auburn

9. Ole Miss

10. Arkansas

11. Vanderbilt

12. Missouri

13. Kentucky

14. Texas A&M

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