Florida Defensive Line Spring Preview: New names added to the mix

Feb 27, 2023 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

The Florida Gators are preparing for year two under Billy Napier with plenty of questions to be answered after a disappointing 6-7 2022 season. The Gators will begin preparations for 2023 with spring practice, which kicks off on March 4. In anticipation, Inside the Gators takes a look at every position; who’s returning, what needs to be proven, and more.

Up today is the defensive line. 

Main Participants

  • Desmond Watson (Nose)
  • Chris McClellan (Tackle)
  • Jaelin Humphries (Tackle)
  • Jamari Lyons (Tackle)
  • Cam’Ron Jackson (Tackle)
  • Caleb Banks (Tackle)
  • Will Norman (Tackle/End)
  • Kamran James (Tackle/End)
  • Princely Umanmielen (End)
  • Justus Boone (End)
  • Tyreak Sapp (End)
  • Kelby Collins (End)

Out this spring

  • None

Arriving this summer

  • Gavin Hill (End)


  • Gervon Dexter Sr. (Declared for NFL)
  • Chris Thomas Jr. (Transfer portal)
  • Jalen Lee (Transfer to LSU)

Key Question: Depth was an issue last season. Can spring prove that it isn’t anymore?

Dexter Sr. took on a lot in 2022 between constant double teams and a high volume of snaps. Florida’s defensive line, especially in the interior, struggled to find consistency due to this lack of depth. Now, Florida brings in five newcomers for spring and returns plenty who are expected to take on a larger workload such as Desmon Watson and Chris McClellan. Hypothetically, the depth issues should be over. Can their spring performances do enough to convince otherwise?

Bonus Question: Is Desmond Watson ready to build off the hype?

Every time the 6-foot 5, 400+-pound lineman steps on the field, social media goes crazy, especially when he makes plays like the ones against USF and South Carolina. That being said, keeping his weight under control while keeping him on the field for decent periods of time has been an issue. When the current staff arrived, he became an immediate priority, and it showed with more playing time as the season went on. Now with hype and experience, can he continue to build off it while keeping his weight under control this offseason?

Something to Prove: Princely Umanmielen
After Brenton Cox Jr.’s dismissal and Dexter Sr.’s departure to the NFL, Umanmeilen becomes the new face of the Gators’ front four. He’s also the most experienced defensive lineman on the roster. With this, Umanmielen will have to prove he’s capable to be the face of the group while staving off those behind him fighting for more playing time.

He could surprise: Caleb Banks
The one thing the Louisville transfer doesn’t have is experience. However, his size is enough to excite staff and fans with a height of 6 feet 7 inches and 300 pounds, according to his roster page on Louisville’s website. As rotational roles and a starting spot are all wide open (Watson and Umanmielen are likely guaranteed starters) between early enrollees, returnees and transfers, Banks could make an early push for one rotational role, or even a starting role opposite.

Keep an eye out for: The freshmen’s place in the rotation
Billy Napier brought in three early enrollees for spring in Will Norman, Kamran James, and Kelby Collins. As with the newcomers on the offensive line, how will this trio fit as they get acclimated during spring? Depth shouldn’t be an issue with the plethora of transfers and the returnees, leaving the freshmen in awkward spots due to lack of experience. However, strong springs could equal immediate playing time come fall. Keep an eye on their early development and if they can leap some of the vets in the unofficial depth chart.

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