Reese helping guide UF’s next men up

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Florida linebacker David Reese tackles LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. in their Oct. 6 game in The Swamp. The key for 2019 is keeping Reese on the field. [Lauren Bacho/Staff photographer]

David Reese II understands what’s expected of him. 

“Just bring guys with me,” he said. “I feel like as long as I can bring guys with me, get them playing fast, I can help the team.” 

Entering his final season with the Gators, the linebacker has embraced the role and frequently helped guide Florida’s inexperienced linebackers throughout much of spring and fall camp. As the Gators have developed sophomore Amari Burney at linebacker — in addition to preparing Florida’s unproven yet talented players at the position — Reese has been an instrumental leader in the development process.

At this point, it’s just another anecdote about Reese’s revered leadership. 

The Farmington, Michigan, native has been regarded as one of Florida’s leaders — both on the field and in the locker room — for more than a year now, which has resulted in the team’s underclassmen frequently turning to the 6-foot-1 senior when seeking direction and guidance on the field.

He’s in the front of the film room coaching us up sometimes,” sophomore Amari Burney said of Reese’s leadership. “Coach will stop talking and just ask David Reese to tell us what we got and things like that. He’s a big help.”

If a fellow linebacker forgets his assignment, or simply needs affirmation of the situation at hand, Reese is waiting with the answer.
“He’s like the professor in the film room. Everything he tells us, we know he’s right,” Burney continued. “We don’t second guess him or anything like that. Whatever he tells you, that’s what we’re playing.”

And Reese’s guidance doesn’t stop there; he also serves as inspiration for freshmen looking to make an instant impact with the Gators. After arriving on campus, Reese quickly carved out a role as a reserve linebacker in 2016 — yet it was initially his play on special teams that caught the eye of Florida’s coaching staff. 

By the end of his freshman season, after some untimely injuries to Florida’s rotation, Reese was the next man up. 

Having to learn through experience in his freshman season helped build him into one of Florida’s most accomplished linebackers in recent history.

Meaning Reese isn’t just giving the answers to Florida’s next-men-up. 

“He puts us to the test. Sometimes he won’t say anything, and I’ll be like ‘David, what do I got?’ and he’ll be like, ‘You should have known’,” Burney said of Reese. “You just got to know your position and be helpful to him, too.”

While Reese would seemingly be happy to answer each and every question, that’s not the ideal way for a player to develop at the collegiate level. He’s simply treating Burney and Co. the way he was treated by former UF linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis. 

“I try to just get them boys everything that I got from different players here and growing up the same as them,” Reese said. “I know the system a little bit better, so I just want to get them to think as fast as I do on the field.”

With the Gators counting on inexperienced linebackers to fill the void left by Vosean Joseph, Reese knows that the linebackers will need help come Saturday night. That’s what he’s there for. 

But there’s also long-term benefit in trial by fire — just ask David Reese II.

“I want them to learn for themselves. I just don’t want it to be easy, because they’re all competing also,” Reese said. “So they don’t need cheat codes all the time. If they’re in with one person, they need to talk, get to know each other.”