Florida Football 3-2-1: Secondary Spring Preview

Mar 12, 2020 | 0 comments


With spring practices less than a week away, it’s time to start previewing what the 2020 Gators might look like position-by-position.

We finish up this series with the defensive backs. Here are three observations, two questions and one prediction about the group entering the spring.

Three Observations

1. They’ll miss CJ Henderson a little bit, but this cornerback group should be the most talented and deepest UF has had in several years. Kaiir Elam looked like a future All-American during his freshman season, and Trey Dean and Marco Wilson are probably due for bounce back seasons. Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough avoided redshirt seasons and got some experience in 2019. C.J. McWilliams should be back from injury this spring, and they welcome in a pair of early-enrollees in Ethan Pouncey and Jahari Rogers. Even the third and fourth units should have a ton of athleticism at corner this spring. It should be fun to watch.

2. The same cannot be said for the safeties, who will be perilously thin this spring. The only returning players are Brad Stewart, Donovan Stiner, Shawn Davis and Quincy Lenton. Stewart, Stiner and Davis have been wildly inconsistent throughout their careers, while Lenton has pretty much been injured since the day he arrived at UF. Rashad Torrence is the only newcomer at the position this spring.


3. They should be hungry and ready to bounce back from an uneven 2019 season. They weren’t bad by any means, finishing 32nd in the country in passing defense. Still, that was good for just sixth best in the SEC, and they got torched by Kentucky, LSU, Georgia and Virginia. For a school that prides itself on being ‘DBU,’ they didn’t look like it at times. If these players are the ultra-competitors they claim to be, they should practice this spring with a little extra pep in their step and fire in their eyes. Last year was a disappointment for them, and their chance at redemption begins now.

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Two Questions

1. What do the Gators do at ‘Star’? They have several options. Wilson finished last season at nickel after Dean was moved back outside. They could start the spring this way. Or, they could go back to how they started last year, with Dean at nickel. Ideally, they’d probably like to play both Wilson and Dean outside and let Kimbrough or Hill claim the ‘Star’ job. It’s great to have all of these options available, but Wilson will likely receive the first snap inside.

2. Can they avoid the injuries that plagued them last year? McWilliams missed the season with an injury, while Henderson missed three games and Davis missed one game. The prior season, they lost Wilson to a season-ending injury in the second game. Obviously, there’s a lot of luck involved in staying healthy and the season is still six months away, but it’s important that they make it out of the spring without any major injuries.

One Prediction

1. Stewart will look like the 2018 version of himself this spring. That year, he started seven games and made 41 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He entered 2019 with talk of him potentially being an All-SEC candidate. After missing the first two games with a suspension, he underachieved greatly, as he made just 28 stops and failed to record an interception or pass breakup. He lost his starting job to Jeawon Taylor. He’s a much better player than what he displayed last season. If his head is in the right place, he should enjoy a nice bounce back this spring.

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