With rush ends Jachai Polite and Cece Jefferson preparing to move on to the NFL, there probably is some concern out there over Florida’s ability to generate a steady pass rush in the fall.
But defensive coordinator Todd Grantham doesn’t seem even the slightest bit worried about it.
“I’ve had to replace guys every year,” Grantham said. “I had to replace Justin Houston (at Georgia), and then Jarvis Jones came along. So, I’m not concerned about that.”
Grantham spent the spring working multiple players at the rush-end position that produced 12 sacks last season, 11 by Polite.
Those getting reps at the hybrid position included Jabari Zuniga, Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard, redshirt freshman David Reese and true freshman Mohamoud Diabate. Jeremiah Moon, who did not participate in the spring due to an injury, and true freshman Chris Bogle will join the mix in preseason camp.
“(Jabari) Zuniga is pretty good. He’ll be off the edge,” Grantham said. “We brought Jonathan in to be an edge rusher for us. Mohamoud is a guy we signed to be an outside linebacker. When you look at young David Reese, he’s a guy that has some speed for us. Moon’s a guy that played last year for us. You got Bogle coming in, too.
“So, we’ve always going to find ways to manufacture pass rush. That position over the last eight years in the league has averaged 10-and-a-half sacks. So I’m not concerned about that. We’ll find a way to get after it.”
Zuniga, an end and tackle last season, produced 6.5 sacks. He seemed to elevate his game with a strong spring.
“He’s a guy that’s very conscientious and wants to be really prepared,” Grantham said. “With him it’s just a matter of continuing to refine his craft, because he can give us rush both inside and outside. It’s about what combination of guys gives us the best rush. So we’ll mix and match those guys.”
Sophomore defensive end Zach Carter also is moving inside to tackle in certain situations. He delivered a steady pass rush from both positions in the spring.
“A little bit more maturity,” Grantham said of Carter. “The weight room has helped. He’s playing to the identity we want him to play to. Playing multiple spots for us, being able to play end and tackle for us. A guy that wants to be a good player. He’s got the tools to be a good player.”