Defenders receive praise from UF coordinator

Florida defensive lineman Jachai Polite. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said there were no defensive players who have surprised him with their camp performance, but he did single out three players for their improved play.

“I think that I’ve seen guys individually get better,” he said. “(End/outside linebacker) Jachai Polite, for example, is a guy who has flashed for me. Even the corners, between CJ (Henderson) and Marco (Wilson), really have bought in and tried to do the things the way we want and worked to improve their skill set. I would say as a group, I’ve been pleased with how we’ve moved forward.

“Polite has done a good job. He’s got some ability, he’s got some edge rush to him. He’s understanding the value of going hard all the time and playing that way. I certainly look forward to getting him on the field next Saturday and watching him play.”

Emerging safeties

Three players have made a move at the two safety spots that were considered wide open heading into camp.

“First of all (Donovan) Stiner, young guy that I’ve seen really progress, has shown the ability to tackle in space and continues to get better,” Grantham said. “Jeawon Taylor is a guy who’s played both spots. Brad Stewart has played both spots for us.

“(Those guys) have really kind of shown up and done the things we’ve asked them to do.”

Dean in the rotation

True freshman cornerback Trey Dean has followed up a solid spring with an impressive camp and has put himself in a position to play this season

“Trey’s going to play,” Grantham said. “Trey will be in a rotation. He’s really competitive. He’s got good size, he’s got all the skill sets you want in a corner. He’s really worked to improve the fundamentals and understanding leverages and why they’re important.

“He’s probably one of the most competitive guys I’ve been around. I think that’s allowed him to excel early and we’re certainly going to play him this year and get him in the rotation to help us.”

DT transformation

After seeing spot duty last season as true freshmen, defensive tackles T.J. Slaton and Elijah Conliffe are expected to play a major role this season.

Both have lost weight and gained strength since the spring.

“They’ve made strides,” Grantham said. “If you were to say on day one from spring to now, they are completely different players. They worked at perfecting their craft.

“To be an all-around player, you have to do (the right things) not only on the field, but with your nutrition, in the weight room. You are not going to feel great every day, but you have to push yourself through.

“Those guys have done a good job at working to make that incline to be the kind of players they want to be and we want them to be.”


  1. Music to our ears, and pretty high praise from a no-nonsense sort of guy. I feel confident the defense is going to be back at Gator standards and then some, and hopefully won’t be spending a disproportionate amount of time on the field this year. Cannot wait!

  2. I can only hope the energy and drive will last throughout the season and on to the next…we need recruiting to improve more than anything but if we can stay out of trouble and be humble when we finally do start winning then all should fall into place and blessings will continue to arise! Only time will tell…I hope we honor the state, the students, and ourselves to be successful! #gogators

  3. WOW!!! No-Names getting accolades! WOWEEE!! If this ain’t GREAT news for Gatornation then I have no idea what can excite the fans for a grator season than expected for almost a decade. Kudos to Savage for giving us fans an O-line that will free up the backs and recievers for an exciting great, great year that no one has seen coming … for a long, long time. Perfect coach at the perfect time with the perfect athletes! Go Gators! Highly under rated!

  4. Defense side of the ball is the easiest to get prepared, the past 8 Years minus a few games the defense has been good enough to win with. Offense particularly the QB position is the only concern, if that’s good this will be a competitive season, despite the win loss column.

  5. I would respectfully disagree. The key for our offense is the line. If the line blocks we have a stable full of good backs that will gain yards. Once the ground game is established the QB, whoever it is, will have time to find an equally good stable of receivers. It’s all about the line.

    • And I respectfully agree with you, R/S. Now, Cody mentioned the other day that there are some things the QB can learn to do that’ll help the OL hold for a little while longer…maybe that’s in the works too….but at the end of the day (I think that was at one time considered to be a metaphor but what the hell anyway), it sure would be nice if the OL was a part we didn’t have to worry about. But I see your point clearly — if they can open holes long enough for our speedy backs to get through and gain, that should make the defense that much more indecisive and whoever the QB is can exploit that in the air or on the ground himself.

      • It comes down to what most things in life need…balance and the O-line needs to provide it. It won’t matter how many good backs we have if we can’t throw the ball because the defense will just load the box on us. Being one dimensional, even if really really good at that one dimension, will only lead to losses and another season of frustration.

        But I’m just a parrot repeating what everyone else has said because there’s nothing that hasn’t already been. Is it game day yet?