Gators should be physical, athletic on defensive front

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter is poised for a big year on the Gators' defensive front. [USA Today]

We break down the 2020 Florida football team by position group. This week a look at the defensive line.

The upside

 The Gators have four experienced and proven starters in ends Zachary Carter and Jeremiah Moon and tackles TJ Slaton and Kyree Campbell. That’s a good starting point for a line that should be physical and athletic — and a seemingly ideal fit in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s aggressive, attacking scheme.

 Moon is the Gators’ most experienced lineman and has flashed lots of playmaking ability from the rush end position that has been so productive over the  past two seasons, especially last year with Jonathan Greenard leading the Gators in sacks.

 Moon may not even start. If he does, he’s going to be sharing playing time, for sure. Georgia transfer and former five-star recruit Brenton Cox has a tremendous upside and has been flashing his playmaking ability throughout preseason camp. And behind Cox and Moon, redshirt freshman Lloyd Summerall III is a promising prospect who will have a chance to work his way into the playing rotation.

 At the other end spot, Carter is coming off a strong sophomore season that saw his confidence grow over the course of the year. He’s versatile enough to move inside and play tackle if needed, something he did occasionally last season. True freshman Princely Umanmielen has been impressive in camp and figures to see playing time behind Carter.

 The Gators should be steady and strong up the middle with the two veteran starting tackles — Slaton and Campbell. Redshirt freshman Jaelin Humphries and true freshman Gervon Dexter, a five-star prospect, have earned their way into the playing rotation with their performances in camp.

 Last season, Slaton, who has a big upside, started showing the consistency that was lacking in his play in his first two seasons. If he stays on that path, he has a chance to be an impact player inside.

The downside

 With an injury ending the career of Elijah Conliffe, the Gators enter the season with experienced depth at tackle consisting of just one player — senior Marlon Dunlap.

 Dexter and Humphries likely are not the only young tackles who will be counted on for possible significant playing time. True freshmen Lamar Goods and Jalen Lee also likely will see the field this season due to the lack of depth.

 The veteran tackles need to stay healthy, giving the young players time to develop over the course of the season.

Young guy to watch

  Redshirt defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries was one of the highest-rated members of the 2019 recruiting class and was expected to play as a true freshman last season. But a knee injury he sustained in high school sidelined him for the year. He’s 100 percent now and has the size and athletic ability to develop into an elite SEC tackle. He’s been having a strong preseason camp and has earned his way into the playing rotation.

Don’t be surprised if …

 Junior defensive end Zachary Carter has a major breakout season. He came close to having one last year, filling in for the injured Jabari Zuniga, who missed most of the season. Carter is big enough and athletic enough to play both end and tackle. Like last season, he’ll move inside on some obvious passing situations, but where he could be dominant is on the edge, where he’s strong against the run and also a potentially devastating pass rusher.


 “(The defensive linemen) are coming along nicely. I’m really pleased with the young guys, the young freshmen that are in this class. You just look at some of those guys and their ability level I’m really excited about. Obviously, there’s a learning curve and some of them missed some time. But I’m really excited about the future on the defensive line and building a premiere D-line with those guys. You have Jalen Lee and Jaelin Humphries. I put him (Humphries) in that almost young freshman (group) because he missed almost the whole year with his injury, with his knee coming in here. He’s coming along. Gervon (Dexter) is doing a really good job learning the game, obviously big and physical in there. Antwaun (Powell) and Princely (Umanmielen) are doing a really good job on the edge. Some of those newcomers along the D-line, I’m really excited about how they’re coming along.” — Dan Mullen

Possible depth chart


7-Jeremiah Moon

6-Brenton Cox

99-Lloyd Summerall

—  Antwaun Powell


55-Kyree Campbell

66-Jaelin Humphries

—  Jalen Lee


56-TJ  Slaton

91-Marlon Dunlap

— Gervon Dexter

— Lamar Goods


17-Zachary Carter

8-Khris Bogle

10-Andrew Chatfield

—  Princely Umanmielen

Ranking the SEC defensive lines

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Florida

4. LSU

5. Auburn

6. Texas A&M

7. Tennessee

8. Missouri

9. South Carolina

10. Mississippi State

11. Kentucky

12. Ole Miss

13. Vanderbilt

14. Arkansas

Up next

Who: No. 8 Florida vs. Ole Miss

Where: Vaught Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.

When: Noon, Sept. 26


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850