FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
- Anonymous Player Q&A II: Thoughts on the true freshmen
- Four-star Arnold talks final three, new Florida hire and more
- Redshirt Report: Lingard’s offseason work has already begun
- Redshirt Report: Torrence going from a 'don't mess up' to 'don't let up' mentality
- Where are they Now: Injury ended Chester's playing career, but life went on
- Redshirt Report: Anthony learned lessons on, off the field
- Anonymous Player Q&A: Thoughts on the 2020 season, Dan Mullen, and much more
- An unexpected path led Barber to fulfill a life long dream
- Where are they Now: Ingram looks to deliver a championship to hometown
- On the Mark: Is the recruiting tide turning for Florida at IMG Academy
- Where are they Now: Shane Matthews talks Florida Football
Gregory Moon will never forget when he saw his son Jeremiah Moon make his first career start for Florida against Michigan in 2017 as a redshirt freshman. Yes, the Gators got thrashed in AT&T Stadium, but he knew there would be better days ahead.
Now, four seasons and 21 starts later, he’ll see his son attempt to add to his legacy after the younger Moon announced his intention to return for one final season in the Orange & Blue.
After a quiet start to his career, it seemed the young man from Hoover, Alabama started to figure it out during the 2019 season. He recorded 31 tackles, 6.5 for loss, three sacks, and 20 quarterback pressures in the first nine games of the year – even putting up an SEC Defensive Player of the Week performance against Towson.
However, an injury against Georgia sidelined him for the season’s final four games.
Despite missing the final quarter of the season, he still attracted praise from experts such as Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy heading into the 2020 season.
While it hasn’t translated into great stats yet, @GatorsFB OLB Jeremiah Moon is one of the most physically talented defenders in ‘21 draft. Moon is only guy we’ve seen so far that flashes high ceiling rush talent and can also run with TE down the seam. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/RPzA6ifBiD
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) July 8, 2020
However, Jeremiah didn’t get much opportunity to build on that glowing endorsement this past season.
He missed the 2020 opener against Ole Miss before seeing action against South Carolina, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Georgia. Sadly, he again sustained an injury against the Bulldogs.
This time a stress fracture in his foot cut his season several games short.
According to Gregory, it was a nagging injury that didn’t heal as fast as Jeremiah thought it would.
Eventually, the family sought help from a foot specialist. Despite not requiring surgery, Jeremiah still continues to rehab.
“I just think, overall, the injury kind of kept him [from declaring]. Because he did want to go to the draft. I think everything was in place,” his father said “He had an invite to the Senior Bowl… if it (had) not been for the injury, he would have been there.”
The decision ultimately fell to Jeremiah but he made sure to get feedback from his parents. And while they know he’s mature enough to make a sound decision, both of them endorsed his decision to return.
They’re really happy about their son earning his bachelor’s degree in December 2020 and this sixth year gives him an opportunity to earn a master’s.
But it wasn’t just the injury. Usually, players seek feedback when gauging whether to enter the draft. Gregory pointed out Jeremiah received plenty of good feedback of his potential, but teams needed to see him get more playing time.
“We had a lot of teams asking about him and the main thing was they liked what they saw of his growth from last year,” Gregory said. “And teams just wanted more film.”
Thus, after some discussions with Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham, Jeremiah Moon decided to give it one last go-around in Gainesville. And just because he’s been around the block several times doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any goals.
His first goal hasn’t changed since he set foot on campus: graduate.
Additionally, Grantham wants to see him as a more vocal leader with the younger players. Sometimes a veteran voice combined with young talent can provide positive results.
Funny enough, Jeremiah’s not even that old despite 2021 being his sixth year. According to his father, he arrived at UF as a 17-year-old in 2016 due to his August birthday. So, he’ll basically be the age of a fifth-year senior in 2021.
Gregory even recalled notable Gator defenders like safety Marcus Maye and linebacker Alex Anzalone talking up his young son to him at a fan day.
“They told me ‘You got a tall, long rangy kid who pretty much was out there getting it on with the big boys,’” he said. “…Jeremiah wasn't always the biggest kid but he played with a lot of heart.”
Now, he’ll be part of a defensive unit looking to improve on last season’s performance that was often maligned by Gator fans. And, of course, Grantham received a lot of the heat.
According to his father, Jeremiah echoed what some of the Gator defenders said in 2020 about their side of the ball.
“Jeremiah’s not a complainer. Jeremiah realized he had good coaches, but players make plays,” according to Gregory. “You have to be in position to make plays. He tells me all the time ‘You got to be in your gaps. You got to play sound defense. You got to do your job.’”
The instructions from coaches like Grantham and linebackers coach Christian Robinson are there. It just comes down to defenders playing their position and doing their job.
“As a parent, yeah, you get frustrated for the kids (and) for the team,” Gregory said. “But what you see in-game time and what you see on TV when you get a chance to go back and actually look at it in detail, sometimes it's totally different.”
But last season is last season and, aside from his other goals, Jeremiah is looking to get back to 100 percent and finish his college career with a bang. “Start strong, finish strong,” his father said.
“Playing for the Gators, it's been an awesome thing to him,” Gregory mentioned. “And he loves the Gator tradition. Walking out of that tunnel. It means a lot.”
And Jeremiah’s parents are excited to see him get back out there and play again. It hasn’t been an easy road but it’s been rewarding. Seeing their son play Division I football in the SEC is well worth it. In the end, Gregory and Ramonia just want their son to be healthy, confident, and at peace.
Gregory called Jeremiah’s “last home game” in the Swamp a surreal moment. Now, with everything that’s happened, there’s a chance at another year.
“We’re definitely looking forward to it,” he said. “Looking forward to being back down seeing the other parents and getting back to some good Gator football. Hopefully, we'll have more fans in the stadium this year. That would mean a whole lot.”