FOOTBALL

Truesdell a 'big addition' for Gators defense, will play Saturday

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Tyrone Truesdell (94)
Auburn practice on Monday, April 12, 2021 in Auburn, Ala.
Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

It often takes an extended period of time for a student-athlete — from high school signees to graduate transfers, and everyone in between — to contribute at their new destination. 

But that apparently won’t be the case for the Florida football program’s latest addition, Tyrone Truesdell. 

The 6-foot-2, 326-pound graduate transfer was added to Florida’s roster Monday, a little over two weeks after the former Auburn defensive lineman entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal, with UF coach Dan Mullen citing “the recruiting gap” along the interior of the Gators’ defensive line that paved the way for Truesdell’s arrival. 

The assumption was Truesdell would provide depth for the unit, considering his apparent lack of familiarity with the program and personnel, but Florida’s defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, doesn’t envision Truesdell riding the pine. 

When the Gators take the field Saturday against Florida Atlantic, expect Truesdell to be contributing at some point throughout the night. 

“He'll play Saturday, he’ll play Saturday,” Grantham repeated. 

It should come as no surprise to those who’ve followed the progression of Florida’s defensive line. In 2020, the Gators had little experience behind Kyree Campbell and TJ Slaton, which allowed former five-star prospect Gervon Dexter to see the field within his first year on campus. When Florida released its depth chart earlier Monday, Dexter was listed as the back-up at nose tackle, while sophomore Jalen Lee, who played in five games as a freshman, was listed as the second-string defensive tackle. 

However, the unit’s depth took another hit when Mullen said Lee was “questionable” to play against the Owls. 

Hence why Truesdell may see the field before players who have spent more time on campus, in Florida’s film room and on the practice field. 

Long term, there’s still work to be done when it comes to rebuilding UF’s depth along the interior of the defensive line, but Grantham knew the Gators needed to make a late addition in the interim. 

“We're certainly excited to have him. You know he's a big-bodied guy that can give us some stoutness in the middle, allow us to maybe expand some roles of some guys in there, and you know you never can have enough depth at that position as you go through the season,” Grantham said. “And he was a guy that we were excited about trying to get here, and then we're, you know ,certainly happy and fortunate that it finally came about and we look forward to watching him play on Saturday."

It wouldn’t have come as a surprise if some took issue with Truesdell seeing action in a game; after all, loyalty is valuable, especially inside a Mullen-coached program, and rewarding Truesdell with playing time may send the wrong message to some. 

But another player with Auburn ties, junior linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, doesn’t mind the decision, calling Truesdell’s arrival “big” for a Gators defense vying for a return to form in 2021. 

“I feel like adding True to this roster is a big addition. He’s a big body, experienced guy, and played a lot of SEC ball, so he knows what to do,” Diabate said. “That’s somebody that we definitely want a part of your team.”

Besides, Grantham has stated the Gators need at least 24 players with experience on defense this season, meaning the designations of “starter” or “back-up” are ultimately inconsequential, expressed Diabate. 

“Talking about the depth, our ones and twos are really interchangeable, you know. We have so many people who can play at a high level at this point. We have two guys, like (Jeremiah) Moon, that have been here six years, guys like Zach (Carter) who have been here five years, and guys like myself, who has only been here three years but have played a lot,” Diabate said. “That gives us the opportunity you know, even when the guys are tired we rotate and it’s somebody who already played, and it’s not really a dropoff.”