Diwun Black finding role, though Gators won't 'pigeon-hole' anyone
The mystery of Florida junior linebacker Diwun Black’s position appears to have been solved.
Gators safeties coach Wesley McGriff revealed that Black, the top-rated JUCO signee in the midst of his first preseason camp, is taking the majority of his reps in practice at the ‘Star’ position in the UF defense, a role McGriff said he’ll “probably” play this season.
That may change, however, if it’s for the betterment of the team.
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“We’ll put the guys in the right position to help us win ball games, so we won’t pigeon-hole a guy in one particular spot,” McGriff said, “but right now he’s taking the majority of his reps at Star.”
Considering he only arrived on campus less than five months ago, Black still has some catching up to do.
And, on top of everything Florida’s football program entails, Black’s adjustment from the JUCO level to an academic institution of UF’s caliber has been a gradual learning process.
Diwun Black making transition from JUCO ranks
But on and off the field, Black toils away.
“He’s very long, very long athlete. He’s got good run ability. He’s constantly improving his change of direction. Constantly improving his demeanor in the classroom and knowing what to do, and, you know, just going about that communication deal — just communicating and knowing your assignments,” McGriff said. “But he’s a guy that certainly has a skill set and talent that he’ll be able to support us down the road when we get going in this thing.”
Whether that thing is this season or next remains to be seen.
From how McGriff tells it, high expectations may need to be tempered in the short term, though there’s little doubt Black’s potential warrants excitement.
Over the course of his sophomore season at Forest (MS.) High School, just as his recruitment was starting to gain traction, Black recorded 12 interceptions — three of which went for touchdowns — to go along with 159 tackles.
The question of where Black will line up didn’t start in Gainesville either — he hauled in four touchdowns on 16 receptions for 304 yards the very next season before transferring to Osceola High in Kissimmee prior to his senior year.
“That’s some really good ball production,” McGriff said. “That’s what you look for with a guy on the back end: if he can take the ball away and give an offense more possessions, that’s what you hunt for for a guy on the back end.”
That tenacity in the backfield has followed Black to Florida; junior defensive lineman Khris Bogle, who took his official visit with Black back on Jan. 25, 2019, said Black gives off nightmarish vibes on the field.
For a unit looking for a return to the “DBU” mentality, Black may be just what Florida’s defense needs.
“He's a monster in the back end, something that we were really looking for on our defense. I mean, he's fast, physical, bigger than most safeties and DBs,” Bogle said of Black. "We're just looking forward to having him."
A knack for finding the football is a prerequisite, whether one lines up out wide or in the defensive backfield.
Ultimately, that isn’t what will determine Black’s success at the Star position this season, but it will be an attribute he’s displayed over the course of his journey to Florida: desire to dedicate to the grind.
“Really the biggest key trait is work, your work ethic. You have to be willing to come in every day and have a work ethic,” McGriff said, “And the biggest thing outside of work ethic is attitude. I express to them every day that’s the one thing that you can control.”