Some tight, intense battles on 'D'

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Two of the biggest questions on the Florida defense are: Who will replace Joe Haden at cornerback and who takes over for Brandon Spikes at middle linebacker?

At this early stage in preseason camp, the competition is too close to call.

At middle linebacker, redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins finished the spring as the No. 1 guy. But sophomore Jon Bostic was right there with him all the way, and the two have carried their close battle over into fall practice.

“Right now, I don’t know of anybody leading,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “Jelani and Jon are both doing well in there. Both are going to play for us. Who starts is still to be determined. I think both of those guys are going to be very good players for us.”

They both bring something different to the position, Austin said.

“Jelani, you look at his speed, his absolutely flat out speed,” Austin said. “He sees the ball and he goes and gets it.

“Jon brings some speed, but he’s also a thumper. He gives you that big body who can sit down on some guards and fullback and get that (inside) stuff. They’re different type players. Each type can get the job done the way we want it. It’s just a matter of how it shakes out at the end.”

At Haden’s old cornerback spot, sophomore Jeremy Brown is considered the leading contender. But he’s battled back issues in the past, and he’ll have to fend off senior Moses Jenkins and three talented true freshmen — Cody Riggs, Joshua Shaw andJaylen Watkins. Shaw and Watkins went through spring practice as early enrollees.

“Yes, (Brown had a good summer),” Austin said. “Right now, it’s full speed ahead for Jeremy. We’re real pleased with where he is. He’s a great kid and he works his tail off. We’re going to keep our fingers crossed and hope he comes out of camp OK.”

The competition is wide open, Austin said.

“Jeremy Brown and Moses Jenkins are involved in that position, in addition to any of our freshmen,” Austin said. “We know Janoris (Jenkins) is one corner. What we’re trying to do is develop who is our next corner.

“What we’ll do as we get going through the next two weeks is we’ll determine who our second-best corner is. If it happens to be a guy that’s in the boundary, we’ll move him to the field (corner). If it happens to be that guy that’s out there (on the boundary), we’re going to move ahead and go full speed.

“We’re going to put our best players on the field. We owe it to our team.”

On the defensive line, Austin said highly rated true freshmen Sharrif Floyd and Ronald Powell are doing OK, but still have a long way to go.

“The big thing they’ve got to get used to is the speed of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Austin said. “I think they’ll adjust. They both have ability to be pretty good players.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the updates, Robbie! The real competition is for Janoris Jenkins’ old corner spot, isn’t it, with J. Jenkins assuming Joe Haden’s former position? Looks like we have loads of athletic, fast and physical guys to play linebacker spots and Trattou offsets some of the loss at end. My hunch is that our offense will be more explosive than last year’s and that the “D” will do the job well, too. Whaddayathink?

  2. As a UF grad living in Colorado now, I went to the open Bronco practice last Saturday night and took the light rail to Mile High Stadium. I wore a Gator shirt as did a lot of other Florida grads at the game.

    All everyone was talking about was Tim Tebow. There were more Tebow jerseys being worn that any others by far. Even a Georgia graduate told me he hoped Tebow would be the starting quarterback for the Broncos.

    Tim played very well and everyone cheered every time he completed a pass or ran the ball. He made all of us Gators fans proud. The Denver fans are really behind him and I think he knows that.

    Now it’s really great to be a Florida Gator in Colorado.

  3. we have a load of talent at both spots, thanks to great recruiting. the lb spot is in a better positon then the cb spot. jenkins is more of a outside lb, idont like hearing hes not a “tumper”, thatrs what a mibble linebacker dose[spikes]. the best way to play it might be to go 3-4 a little this season, we got the personel, u get the tumper at 1 mlb spot and all that beautiful speed at the other spot. at cb let j shaw grow into a full time shutdown corner, until then look at how we did j haden for his soph season, we played him alot at nickelback while he developed into an allSEC player, and a 1st round pick!