During the beginning weeks of the off-season, Inside the Gators will take an in-depth look at how last season went for Florida's 2019 signees who redshirted with our Redshirt Report series. Today, we focus on how this past season went for defensive lineman Lloyd Summerall.
Jonathan Greenard led the SEC with 9.5 sacks in 2019. Jeremiah Moon put together the best season of his career prior to his injury in November. Freshman Mohamoud Diabate emerged over the final four games with four sacks.
The Gators’ hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position known as the ‘Buck’ was arguably the deepest position on the team last season. Given that depth, it came as no surprise to top-250 prospect Lloyd Summerall or his high school coaches that he only played in two games and redshirted.
“I think it was something that we kind of thought was probably going to happen,” said Caleb Pickrell, an assistant coach at Lakeland High School, where Summerall spent his senior year. “It was an opportunity for him to get up there and build some strength and put on some weight and get adjusted to that level of football, the physical needs that it requires.
“Lloyd’s a humble kid and embraces [waiting his turn] and I think embraces working hard. So, obviously, it’s frustrating to put in all that work, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s gotten him down or lessened his spirits. If anything, I think that just makes you more hungry as a ballplayer, especially a kid like him. I just think he’s probably excited next year to have a better opportunity to get on the field.”
While some players might hang their heads and get nothing out of their redshirt year, Pickrell is confident that wasn’t the case with Summerall. Summerall got by on sheer athleticism and size prior to arriving at Lakeland, a Class 7A school that pumps out Power Five players annually. He embraced that he had a lot to learn when he arrived at Lakeland, was coachable and improved his craft, and Pickrell thinks he’s carried that same attitude to UF.
Summerall is a long (6-foot-5), fast and agile edge rusher who seems to be a near-perfect fit for what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes to do at the position.
“Really, really fast and long,” Pickrell said. “I think a lot of times when guys think they have him blocked and they think they’ve taken him out of the pocket enough, he’s so long and quick that he still has an arm for the quarterback and the ballcarrier’s really never out of his reach.”
However, as is often the case with young edge rushers, he needed to bulk up once he got on campus. He was listed at just 214 pounds last season, which makes him almost unplayable in anything other than pass-rushing situations. By contrast, Greenard weighed more than 260 pounds. For Summerall to earn a significant role in the seasons ahead, he’ll likely need to add a significant amount of strength.
He used his redshirt year toward this end, Pickrell said. Pickrell saw him three or four times last fall, and the physical difference in him was striking.
“He looked like a very good-looking high school kid when he was with us and looked like a grown man when he came back,” he said. “So, I’m not exactly sure how much he put on, but he really filled out. I’d say he put on every bit of 20 pounds, and it’s a good-looking 20 pounds.”
While Greenard is gone, the competition at ‘Buck’ figures to be just as competitive this offseason. Moon and David Reese return from injuries, Diabate figures to only get better, Georgia transfer Brenton Cox becomes eligible and signee Antwaun Powell enters the fold.
To help separate himself from his teammates, Summerall is trying to become more comfortable with the defensive scheme and become as mentally prepared to play as possible this offseason, Pickrell said. With the position being as young as it is, knowledge of the scheme could be a crucial deciding factor in who plays and who watches from the sideline.
Despite the cluster of bodies at the position, Pickrell believes Summerall has what it takes to rise to the top – both at UF and beyond.
“I think Lloyd’s going to be an NFL guy,” he said. “Obviously, you hope that there’s never any injuries or anything like that. But, when it comes to just being a pure football player and his just athletic ability and his natural length and his strength for the position he plays, I think he’s going to have an opportunity to play on Sundays as long as he just follows the course.”