Senior defensive tackle Adam Shuler doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about how the Gators are going to replace Jachai Polite and Cece Jefferson at the buck end position.
“I’m 100-percent confident in the bucks and players we have coming in this year,” he said. “America says that we lost talent. I say we gained talent.”
Polite and Jefferson have been replaced by Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard, Jeremiah Moon and true freshmen Mohamoud Diabate and Khris Bogle.
Greenard and Moon are expected to share playing time like Polite and Jefferson did last season.
Tackle TJ Slaton said there is no drop-off in talent at the position.
“Jachai really set it off of how how fast he was getting back there,” Slaton said. “But we got Jon Greenard who’s equal or even better — plays it even quicker. He’s strong. He’s a lot bigger than Jachai is, but they play the position the same.
“Moon, very long guy, very competitive. He’s got long arms and he uses his pass rush moves really well. We’ve got some guys to rotate at that position. I’ve got real confidence in them.”
The buck position has been productive over the years under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
It will be more of the same this season, Greenard said.
“They never know what you’re going to do,” he said. “You could rush, you could drop or hit the B-gap. You’re all over the place. That position requires a very smart guy. You know, athletic guys, which we have.
“We’ve got guys like Moon, Mohamoud and Bogle. Those guys understand what’s going on. They’re athletes. They can drop in coverage, very thirsty guys.
“We all fit and we understand that position is to make plays for the defense. Everyone else has a job to do and we’ve got to win and make a play.”
Return to the scene
Greenard is excited about the Aug. 24 opener against Miami and his return to football after missing last season with a broken wrist.
He’s also a little nervous about the opener because Camping World Stadium is where he injured his wrist in the season-opener against Alabama.
“Just to run out there is a huge blessing to play in the same stadium I got hurt in last year,” Greenard said. “It’ll definitely be another surreal moment to get back out there. I’m a little anxious about it and somewhat nervous. Just with prayer and preparation I’ll be fine.”
Greenard got hurt early in the game, so he basically lost his whole season a year ago.
“Just playing nine plays and having the anticipation built up so much and something tragic happens like that,” he said. “Just getting a little nervous because just facing the fears almost. It left a bad taste in my mouth last year. So, now it’s giving me a chance to go back out there and redeem myself. Doing things I should have done last year will be a great feeling.”
More Savage success
Starting defensive tackle Kyree Campbell is yet another Nick Savage success story. With the help of Savage, Campbell has lost weight (20 to 25 pounds) and gained strength.
Campbell said he feels a big difference on the field.
“Me running to the ball. I can run and I feel good,” he said. “I feel very good at this weight and I feel powerful.”
Campbell played at between 315 to 320 pounds last season. He’s now weighing in at 295.
“That’s something that I personally worked with Coach Savage and our strength staff to get down,” he said. “I didn’t want to lose weight, I didn’t want to lose a lot of muscle mass. I wanted to lose a lot of fat. With Savage helping me out and our new nutritionist helping me out, that’s what happened.”