An early look at the 2020 Florida football team’s defense

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Florida defensive linemen Kyree Campbell (55) Adam Shuler (88) and Zachary Carter (17) celebrate after the Orange Bowl win over Virginia on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens. Florida won 36-28. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 On Monday morning, with the first team meeting of the year, a new Florida football team was born, the 2020 team. How this team evolves into what it eventually becomes will be determined over the next seven or eight months.

  As the players take their first dive into Nick Savage’s offseason strength and conditioning program, The Sun is offering an early peek at the 2020 Gators.

 Today: Defense.

Defensive end

 Who’s gone: Jabari Zuniga

 Who’s back: Zachary Carter, Andrew Chatfield.

 Who’s new: Redshirt freshman Lloyd Summerall.

 Who’s coming: Incoming freshmen Antwaun Powell.

 What’s next: Zuniga, one of UF’s most dominant defensive players, missed almost half of last season with a nagging high ankle sprain. While he was out, Carter really stepped up his game and became a productive player. The position is his now, even though he’ll step inside at times and play tackle. He’ll get pushed by Chatfield, who saw playing time last season and is a highly rated prospect. Summerall has the size and skill set of a rush end, but the coaches may give him a look at end due to the lack of depth heading into the spring. Powell is a highly rated prospect who will have a chance to get into the playing rotation as a true freshman. 

Defensive end/outside linebacker

 Who’s gone: Jon Greenard.

 Who’s back: Jeremiah Moon, Khris Bogle, Lloyd Summerall.

  Who’s new: Georgia transfer Brenton Cox, a five-star prospect coming out of high school who redshirted last season.

 Who’s coming: Antwuan Powell, who likely will get reps at both end spots.

 What’s next: Replacing Greenard is going to be tough, but the Gators have some promising options, led by Cox, who tore it up on the scout team last fall, making all kinds of plays against the No. 1 offense. Moon, when healthy, has shown he can thrive at the position with his athletic ability and length. Moon likely will begin the spring as the starter, but he figures to get pushed hard by Cox and Bogle, a highly rated prospect who saw significant playing time as a true freshman last season. He’ll be a bigger, stronger version of himself after a full offseason under Savage. Summerall should be in the mix here and possibly at the other end spot.

Defensive tackle

 Who’s gone: Adam Shuler and Luke Ancrum.

 Who’s back: Kyree Campbell, T.J. Slaton, Zachary Carter, Marlon Dunlap, Elijah Conliffe.

 Who’s new: Redshirt freshman Jaelin Humphries.

 Who’s coming: Incoming freshmen Gervon Dexter, Johnnie Brown, Jalen Lee, Lamar Goods.

 What’s next: The Gators have some decent numbers here now, with five of the top six from a year ago returning, led by Campbell and Slaton. Carter will start at end, but also will get some reps inside, where he can be a disruptive pass rusher in obvious passing situations. Humphries will be one to watch in the spring. He missed most of last season recovering from a knee injury, but he’s an excellent prospect. The two tackle spots will receive a major boost with the addition of four highly rated freshmen, led by Dexter.

Linebacker

 Who’s gone: David Reese II.

 Who’s back: Ventrell Miller, James Houston, Amari Burney, Lacedrick Brunson, Mohamoud Diabate and David Reese (out injured last season).

 Who’s new: Redshirt freshmen Ty’Ron Hopper and Jesiah Pierre.

 Who’s coming: True freshman Derek Wingo, a four-star prospect from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas.

 What’s next: Reese not only was a tackling machine and major run stuffer, he was also the leader of the defense the past two seasons, so someone is going to have to step up in that capacity. Miller is a leading candidate, especially after his strong performance in the Orange Bowl spying Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. Houston, Burney (who also can play the star position in the secondary), Brunson and Diabate all saw significant playing time last season and seem ready to take on expanded roles. Hopper and Pierre are redshirt freshmen who flashed a lot of potential last fall. Wingo is one of the highest-rated players in the 2020 recruiting class and should push for immediate playing time. The younger Reese, who ruptured his Achilles tendon last summer, was still on crutches at the Orange Bowl and his status for the spring is uncertain.

 Cornerback

 Who’s gone: Junior CJ Henderson, who has declared for the NFL draft.

 Who’s back: Marco Wilson, Kaiir Elam, Trey Dean, Chester Kimbrough, Jaydon Hill, C.J. McWilliams.

 Who’s new: No one (at least this spring).

 Who’s coming: Incoming freshmen Jahari Rogers, Ethan Pouncey, Mordecai McDaniel, Avery Helm and Fenley Graham.

 What’s next: Even with the early departure of Henderson, the Gators appear in good shape here in terms of numbers and experience, led of course, by Wilson, who made the decision to return. Dean is a seasoned junior who has been a starter at corner and nickel the past two seasons, while Elam, Kimbrough and Hill all saw significant playing time as true freshmen in 2019. Elam, who had a crucial interception in the Orange Bowl, could be UF’s next star at corner. Both corner spots will be bolstered with the arrival of five highly rated true freshmen, led by Rogers.

Safety

 Who’s gone: Jeawon Taylor.

 Who’s back: Shawn Davis, Donovan Stiner, Brad Stewart, Quincy Lenton.

 Who’s new: True freshman and four-star early enrollee Rashad Torrence.

 Who’s coming: Incoming true freshman Tre’Vez Johnson.

 What’s next: The decision by Davis to return for his senior season is big. He emerged as one of UF’s best defensive players over the second half of last season and should be a major impact player (literally, with the way he hits) in 2020. Stiner and Stewart are experienced and proven players who will continue to compete for the starting role opposite Davis. Torrence will have a chance to work his way into the playing rotation in the spring. Johnson is a three-star prospect, but coach Dan Mullen has named him the sleeper of the recruiting class because of his speed and playmaking ability.

 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds all good, just hope Grantham gets his head out of his ?? and starts playing tight coverage in the secondary to knock passes away rather than let them catch and tackle(or run away because nobody was near them!!!!! I do think we are set at the D-line with Cox coming playing!