2015 position breakdowns: DE


This is the sixth in a 10-part series looking at the positional needs and early targets for Florida football in the 2015 recruiting class.

The Gators currently have 19 scholarships available excluding walk-ons. With potential juniors leaving early and inevitable attrition, UF will likely sign 28-30 prospects next year.

Here’s a breakdown of the defensive end position:

CeCe Jefferson (left) and Byron Cowart (right) are Florida's top DE targets. (Photo via Jefferson's Twitter)

Returning players: Jonathan Bullard, Taven Bryan, Bryan Cox Jr., Dante Fowler Jr., Joey Ivie, Alex McCalister, Justus Reed, Jordan Sherit, Gerald Willis
Verbal commits: None
Top targets: Mekhi Brown, Byron Cowart, CeCe Jefferson, Arden Key, Albert Huggins, Jason Strowbridge
Others offered: Michael Barnett, Terry Beckner Jr., Austin Bryant, Jashon Cornell, Natrez Patrick, D’Andre Walker
The skinny: On paper, Florida should be in good shape at defensive end for 2015. However, juniors Bullard and Fowler are candidates to leave early for the NFL, and Ivie and Willis could grow into tackles. If those two scenarios happen, UF would return just five ends next year. That’s why the position is such a priority for the Gators, and they will try to sign three or four prospects.

At the top of their board are in-state targets Cowart (Seffner Armwood) and Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary Baker County), who both visited Florida on Saturday and rank in the Top 10 of the Rivals.com national recruiting rankings. Cowart and Jefferson have named UF their leader in the past and would like to play together in college. If the Gators can land them, it will be their most impressive D-line haul since Bullard and Fowler in 2012.

Brown also visited Gainesville this past weekend, but the Columbus (Ga.) Carver pass rusher appears solid with his Alabama commitment. Key, another Georgia prospect, has the Gators in the mix along with UGA and South Carolina. Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing is heavily pursing Huggins, a consensus top-100 prospect from Orangeburg (S.C.) Wilkinson. Strowbridge of Deerfield Beach, the same high school that produced UF early enrollee Brandon Powell, was offered by Florida during his junior day visit.

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Previous position breakdowns:
Running back
Wide receiver
Tight end
Offensive line


  1. From the clips, Cowart seems to be the bigger Beast. Motor and fighting power, shredding blockers and still manage to do the damage. CeCe seems to never get blocked, but has pretty good persuit. They both look good, I just like Cowarts films better it showed how much he can do, his versatility. GOGATORS!!!!

  2. It would appear Cowart is a lock for UF since he goes to Seffner Armwood. I don’t see how Bullard is a threat to go early, but then Ronald Powell was never any good and he left early, so I guess being a great player doesn’t matter. I would think defensive end, along with linebacker and running back, would be the highest priority this year.

  3. Ronald Powell was never any good? What a completely stupid thing to say! I’m sorry but nobody who knows anything about recent Gator football would ever say Powell wasn’t good. Maybe at the very most that another year would’ve been better for him or that injuries kept him from being what it looked like he would become but nobody who knows anything would say he wasn’t any good! I mean he did get 25 tackles as a freshman, led the team with 6 sacks as a sophomore, and led the team in sacks again in 2013 as well as set up a lot of plays for his teammates over and over. Not any good? Come on man you just sound like a bitter fan mad that his favorite player left.

  4. That UAT Guy, Snowprint is an FSU fan that trolls this blog. You can tell a poster is a troll because they make inflammatory statements contrary to common knowledge (or at least common opinion) without giving supporting facts. It’s the lack of any support that lets you know they are trolling and not really providing a different point of view.

  5. Ronald Powell was one of the biggest busts in UF’s recruiting history. He supposedly was the number one recruit and was never close to living up to the billing. Injuries happen to players, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for their poor performance. Powell showed up to play rarely, most of the time he was in Gainesville you wouldn’t have even known he was on the field because he “disappeared” frequently. Added to that, he embarrassed the team by spitting on another player. Like Driskel, he was a five star bust who never was a good player. He was one of the main reasons why the Gators defense never stopped anyone last year when it mattered against a team with a winning record, except for Toledo. I think you’ll see that a guy who has the “measurables” that are ideal for the NFL will go very low, if at all, because he played so poorly in college.

  6. Snowprint,

    Saying Ronald Powell “was one of the biggest busts in UF’s recruiting history” is a complete exaggeration, which is in line with the majority of your posts. He may not have produced like most believed he would as the #1 overall recruit, but when he played, he was productive. Obviously, even you should be able to figure out that two ACL tears had something to do with his decision to come out early.

    Yes, you are a troll, because every post of yours is far from objective and viewed through your ketchup and mustard glasses.

  7. Fellas-snowflake is just that…a flake. Anyways-I see both of these dudes coming to UF. With CeCe being a lifelong Gator fan & wanting to play with his good buddy I see good things on the horizon with UF. Land these 2 and I for one would be satisfied as the rest of the recruits would be lagniappe. Keep doing a great job, staff. It’ll pay off in the end. Powell will be fine0injuries happen and he’ll make an impact at the next level. I’m rooting for him regardess-he’s a great kid. GO GATORS!!!!

  8. Snowprint.
    A “recruiting bust” of any kind does not start his entire career on a college campus when not injured and lead a team in sacks. If anything, Powell will go down in UF football history as a player who overcame serious injuries to become an impact player on the field. Did Powell live up to his full potential at UF? No, because of those injuries. But hardly a bust of any ill informed description.

  9. Don’t blame me because you guys can’t handle the truth. A bust is a bust. Powell thought he was all that just because he was the #1 recruit. I think he let his ranking go to his head. I’m glad he’s gone.

  10. I don’t know why you feel the need to impersonate me, but I guess you have your reasons. I’m not glad to see him go, I think he should have stayed and actually had a season that would prove me wrong about him being a poor player. The lower you are drafted, the less likely you are to make it in the NFL. A lower draft pick or free agent is not given any time to develop, either produce or you’re on the street. On the other hand, if you are a high draft pick, you are afforded some leeway. An example of that is Blaine Gabbart, he’s an awful quarterback who would have been cut long ago if not for the fact of him being a high draft choice. I just think Powell was stupid to leave early when his performance on the field was spotty at best. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise and someone will take his place that may be less talented, but will show up on every down and every game. If you think Powell always showed up and was someone the opposing offense worried about, you were not paying attention.

  11. honestly made the above statement before reading another poster said the exact same thing. I would change it to “college football” not gator – he was the number one recruit overall- blame the injuries etc but even before the injuries he was not Clowney.

  12. Really Mike?? So now if a player who suffered 2 ACL tears doesn’t stack up to one of the most dominant players in recent memory he’s a bust?? That’s insane. He may not have reached his full potential but he was far from a bust (again 2 injuries. Call it an excuse but I’d like to see you even come back from 1 much less live up to the billing of no. 1 rated recruit. Love how big people can talk sitting down from the couch). He led the team in sacks a few years and did the things on the field that don’t go on the status sheet but help out the team tremendously. But you geniuses don’t care about that do you? As a linemen I can say fans like you are what ruins things and disgust us. The reason the Heisman goes to only QBs and RBs and not necessarily the best player. Because you can’t use your brain or evaluate past the flashy stats. You don’t see the guy who stuffs the trap so another guy will be free to make the tackle, or the linemen who opens up the hole do the back can break free. You don’t care about that do you? It’s sad. But it’s OK. Ronald Powell will be making millions not knowing or caring about you at all while you’re bitter on your couch swearing he’ll fail soon enough and trashing some other college players who have done more for the school than you ever considered doing. Smdh

  13. Zach, Since you do the pro updates as well now, once you’re finished with this position breakdown, and baseball season starts, can you update us on what Gators are one opening day rosters? And summarize how all the Gators have done in the NBA this year?