UF’s freshmen DBs ready to play

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Jim McElwain
Florida head coach Jim McElwain walks the field during a Gator football practice at the practice fields in Gainesville Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Losing three defensive backs to the NFL, the Gators signed six defensive backs in February with the idea that several would end up playing as true freshmen. Now, it appears that all six could see the field this season.

In going over the freshmen who will be playing on defense, head coach Jim McElwain mentioned all six defensive backs.

“I’m excited about those young DBs,” McElwain said. “I’m excited about what they’ve done. We’re able to kind of put some guys on the corner. I think our nickel and dime spots are starting to get solidified, both with Marco (Wilson) and (Donovan) Stiner, who’s done a really good job in there.

“Shawn Davis, really happy with him, what he’s been doing at the safety spot. Both (C.J.) Henderson and (Brian) Edwards are ready to play out there (at cornerback), which is good. Brad Stewart has really come a long ways (at safety).”

One of the freshmen DBs is expected to start. Wilson, the younger brother of NFL second-round pick Quincy Wilson, has worked with the No. 1 defense at the nickel position throughout preseason camp. He’s also gotten reps at cornerback.

Like Wilson, Davis has been getting reps at safety with the No. 1 defense. He’s expected to play in the opener, but McElwain announced Wednesday that senior Nick Washington will start at that spot.

“Nick’s been great because he’s a guy that’s very cerebral in what we’re doing,” McElwain said. “He studies the game. What he does is he brings that to the young guys on the preparation piece.

“He’s a guy who will be starting. He’s a big key to what we do. There’s a certain level back there. There’s been a good legacy built in that room. Those young guys kind of understand and learn it from the older guys what that is and what it means. It’s been really good.”