Moon, Gators’ young linebacking corps ready to make noise

Florida linebackers
Florida linebackers Jeremiah Moon (50), Cristian Garcia (43), Kylan Johnson (28) Vosean Joseph (11) and David Reese (33) take a selfie during the annual UF Media Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium earlier this month. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Forgive Florida redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremiah Moon for having a slight chip on his shoulder.
Moon, who arrived in Gainesville in 2016 ranked as a four-star prospect by 247Sports, was one of the early standouts during last season’s Fall camp. It appeared certain the Hoover, Alabama, native would see the field early and often, but Moon would suffer a hand injury following Florida’s second game of the season. His season was over before it could really begin, forcing him to shift his focus to rehabilitation rather than improvement.
Yet Moon didn’t let the extended period away from the field affect him physically or mentally, although he’s not looking to experience it ever again.
“Recovery is good, I don’t have any problems with my hand,” Moon said. “But as far as being away from the field, it was … I don’t know how to explain it, I didn’t really like it. ‘Cause all I did was do homework because I couldn’t play or do anything. But when I got back, everything was OK, I didn’t have much problem with it.”
With former Gators starting linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis preparing to make their NFL debuts, UF’s linebacker corps will hope the depth at the position is more than enough to suffice this season. But that likely won’t happen without Moon, who at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, brings significant versatility to the position.
“I think I’ve grown a little bit, that’s what people have said, especially when I go home,” Moon said. “The linebackers, we’ve just been building that chemistry. I know we’re missing a lot of guys because a lot of guys went to the league, but just far as getting that playbook down, communicating together, just getting everybody on one page.”
Not often included in the discussion of UF’s deepest position — if you ask Gators coach Jim McElwain, he’ll tell you it’s the offensive line — the linebacker corps will count on a rotation primarily featuring fellow underclassmen David Reese and Vosean Joseph. What the trio may lack in age they’ve made up for with early experience playing at a high level.
“(Vosean’s) always trying to hit somebody hard. He’s just a physical guy. He’s just made to hit,” Moon said. “David (Reese) has definitely stepped up and become one of the leaders on the defense. I mean, he didn’t really have a choice, but he’s done a great job, honestly. You can tell, just how people respond to him when he’s talking. Or just when he’s out on the field, people really have respect for him.”
As for his skill set, Moon thinks people have no idea what to expect from him. With much of the opposing offenses’ preparation likely focus on Reese and Joseph, who each played significant minutes as freshman, Moon is expecting to fly under the radar at the beginning of the season. At least until word of his diverse skill set inevitably reaches Florida’s foes in the SEC.
“I think I can play in space, cover receivers, come off the edge,” Moon said. “Just be kind of versatile. Just whatever you need me to do, I think I can do.”