Like the Florida coaches have been projecting all along, many of the Gators’ young studs have started to make a move with game experience and are contributing more.
“There are a bunch of them,” UF coach Urban Meyer said. “(Linebackers) Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins are two off the top of my head. Those are two (young) linebackers that played at a very high level in this game against a very good runner. (Defensive end) Ron Powell is starting to make some tremendous strides and got his first sack. (Cornerback) Cody Riggs is the guy on special teams. He’s the one that downed the ball at the 1. He was absolutely perfect and textbook the way he closed in, and obviously the punt was hit perfect as well, but that is no easy task.
“A guy named Kitchens (true freshman linebacker Darrin Kitchens), he’s getting better. A guy named Kitchens, you are going to start
hearing from him more often, because, and I hate using ‘bought in’ because you use it with young people, but are they going to buy into the
system, even though I don’t know what that means. If you go real hard and play real hard, you will play. If not, you will sit and watch like
thousands of other people.
“He is doing very well. I know I’m leaving a couple guys out. I think (cornerback) Jeremy Brown is playing a little better. I know
he gave up one, but he had two that he stepped in front of the receiver because he read the drop of the quarterback, and that’s starting to
show a little experience.”
Powell, the nation’s No. 1 recruit last season, had his first sack against Tennessee and looks like he’s headed for more significant playing time. Defensive line coach Dan McCarney said Tuesday that Powell has made impressive strides.
“The transition is major from high school to Division I. Even more so to the SEC,” McCarney said. “I’m thrilled with him, I really am. I ecstatic with the improvement he’s made. He’s really started to figure out the system, the defense, how hard you have to play, the fundamentals you have to play with to be successful.
“You’ll continue to see him and (true freshmen defensive tackles) Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd. Those three are deserving and earning more playing time.”
Powell showed his versatility and athletic ability in Saturday’s game in Knoxville, lining up as a defensive end and at outside linebacker.
“Powell can put his hand down (as an end) as you’ve seen and now we’ve got him playing in a two-point stance some (at linebacker),” McCarney said. “He’s almost 250 pounds and he’s one of the stronger guys on our team as a true freshman. The transition takes time, but he’s really come a long way in the past couple of weeks.”