Greenard’s love of the game

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Florida quarterback Emory Jones is chased out of the pocket by linebacker Jonathan Greenard during the annual Orange & Blue Spring Game on Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in April. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

It’s different here, different than Louisville anyway. Jonathan Greenard is trying to adjust to Gainesville, where the summers can be hotter than a fajita skillet.

“I take at least three or four showers a day,” he said. “And I have to wash clothes so much because I sweat so bad.”

But Greenard is not complaining. He simply wipes away big drops of sweat from his forehead and attacks the next day, the next play.

The transfer from Louisville was a huge get for a Florida team that got burned by the transfer portal this year. Players left, but the addition of Greenard could make them all forgettable.

He’s penciled into the Buck position occupied last year by departed Cece Jefferson, although he could play the end or (at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds) even slide into the middle. So he provides the kind of versatility defensive coordinator Todd Grantham values like precious gems.

He also provides a lot more.

Earlier this week, Grantham talked about his toughness. And his presence. And his leadership.

Now you’re really starting to get excited.

“Jonathan comes in and has a work ethic that you like and that can feed off into the young guys as, yeah, this is how to do it,” Grantham said. “It’s important to get those kind of guys in each room to kind of bring the young guys along.

“I’ve always thought it’s important that you have guys with toughness, like, you have a guy in each room, to make that room a quality room.”

Greenard (pronounced Gri-nard and I know this because he spelled it out for a couple of us phonetically) participated in UF spring practice and his rebuilt right wrist passed all the tests. That injury came on the ninth play of the 2018 season at Louisville.

It was supposed to be a big season for him, coming off a 7.5-sack performance the previous year and representing the Cardinals at 2018 ACC Media Days.

Instead, it went south in a hurry.

“I dislocated it and tore every possible ligament,” he said, fingering the 3-inch scar on the top of the right wrist. “I actually played the next play. At first I didn’t feel anything. But when I got down in my stance, my hand started clicking.

“I didn’t want to look at it.”

Greenard had surgery the next night to have pins and anchors inserted to hold the wrist together. He acknowledges that it’s never going to be the same wrist it was before the injury and surgery, but it’s “the best it’s going to be.”

And he thinks that’s good enough.

So do his teammates.

Florida offensive tackle Jean Delance is one of them

“He’s got a very high motor,” Delance said. “I can see him being a better player (than Jefferson). He’s not sitting back there guessing. He’s just go, go, go.

“And he fit right in to our locker room. The young players look up to him.”

That’s high praise indeed. One reason Greenard doesn’t have to guess is that he was recruited to Louisville by Grantham and played for him.

“He saw something in me I didn’t even see,” Greenard said.

So when he decided to graduate from Louisville and enter the NCAA portal, he glanced at the big-name schools who were interested but honed in on the one where his former coach was employed.

“I didn’t want to learn a new system in my last year, so it was either here or stay at Louisville,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave my boys, but this was a no-brainer.

“I just had to understand the opportunity that was there for my career.”

That’s the thing. Florida didn’t just get a transfer, didn’t just get a good guy with a high motor, didn’t just get a player with versatility. Florida got a young man that can’t wait to play football again.

“You have a fire and it’s also humbling in the sense that this sport can be taken away from you at any time,” Grantham said. “Don’t take things for granted.”

He won’t.

“I’m excited. It gives me chills just getting back to camp,” he said. “I’m just antsy to get back into it.”

No matter how hot it might be.

— Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

4 COMMENTS

    • 2017 was like having a full six pack, but not the little plastic thingy that holds all the cans together. That started to change in 2018, and by jove you’re right, Daz — we’ve got a full case of six packs this year. All being held together by the best coach and staff that we’ve had in years.