It’s commonplace for a program — especially one under new leadership — to reassess the roster following the team’s first camp.
And such is the case for Gators coach Dan Mullen, who has received two commitments in recent weeks that will shore up the Gators for the 2018 season.
The first — West Virginia graduate transfer Adam Shuler — fills a potential void left by Gators star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who injured his shoulder in the team’s Spring game on April 14. Shuler, who graduated from WVU in just three seasons, giving him two years of eligibility at UF, took an official visit to UF the same weekend Jefferson went down, and Florida amped up their pursuit of the 6-foot-5 Longwood native.
Although the injury to Jefferson will likely result in more playing time for established presences on the defensive line, such as Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga, Shuler gives the Gators a player with upside who showed glimpses of promise in two seasons with the Mountaineers. Shuler recorded 37 tackles and three sacks in 2017, and often had a nose for getting to the quarterback and creating pressure in the backfield.
But those who follow the Gators know that the defensive line is one of the few positions where the Gators have considerable depth — Zachary Carter, Antonneous Clayton and Elijah Conliffe all appear poised to contribute this season in a reserve role — and that the main area of emphasis for Mullen and Co. will be reviving the dormant UF offense.
Which makes junior college tight end Lucas Krull’s decision to enroll at UF a potential game-changer for Florida in 2018.
In short, Krull, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 tight end in the 2018 class and the No. 4 overall JUCO prospect, is an athletic freak.
Standing at 6-foot-7 — some reports list him an inch taller than that — and 255 pounds, Krull committed to the Gators last week, giving the Gators depth at a position that has seen minimal production since the departure of Jordan Reed.
While he opted to sign with Arkansas in 2016 as left-handed pitcher, Krull used his unique combination of speed and size to create mismatches on the high school level. He ran an unofficial 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds several years ago, and recently registered a time of 4.55 seconds in the event.
And his strength? Well, his fastball topped out at 98 miles-per-hour, which should speak for itself.
Krull didn’t shy away from the fact that he will need to get back into shape over the next month before Florida opens Fall camp, but his two seasons of baseball conditioning have prepared him more than many think.
“Baseball is a different world of training than football, but I’ve always loved the weight room. I’ve always pushed the limits for baseball, so for me it’s going to be easier than I would expect. Because obviously I’m out of shape right now, but I love the weight room,” Krull told The Gainesville Sun after his official visit on June 3. “For me getting back in the weight room, it will be an easier move. But it will always be tough, very tough.”
But if his social media posts are any indication, Krull may be farther ahead than he let on.
According to Joseph Potts, owner of TopSpeed Strength & Conditioning, LLC., Krull registered a maximum vertical leap that would have put him among the top-20 prospects in the 2018 NBA draft. Potts’ Twitter post also claimed Krull topped his previous highest vertical by an inch and a half — all of this after five sets of squatting 365 pounds.
So while much of the conversation surrounding Florida’s attempted resurgence has involved the revitalization of the offense and the strength and conditioning program, Krull seems to be ahead of the game even before arriving on campus.