Looking at the combined 2021/2022 classes on defense

Feb 5, 2022 | 0 comments


It happens every cycle, grades are assigned to individual signing classes. While they do serve a purpose, the best way to see what needs have been sufficiently met and where there are holes still to be filled is to combine the last two signing classes.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

PlayerCommentStars
@Chris McC">Chris McClellan‍  After committing to Florida while the Gators were without a head coach, Billy Napier and staff were able to hold on to him after home state Oklahoma made a charge. He had a standout week of practice at the All-American game, but someone who I respect as a line talent evaluator isn't all that high on him from a mobility standpoint. We shall see.""
Jamari Lyons‍ He has the frame, but needs to hit the weight room – and in a hurry. Florida has enough depth though that he won't be hurried into being needed, and can take a year or two to develop.""
Christopher Thomas‍ He’s battled through some injuries and didn’t see action until the last game of the season. He’s a bit of a loner, but if he sticks it out I can see him making some noise down the road with his size potential and the way he moves for a 300-pound plus man""
Desmond Watson‍ Nick Savage and company helped him take the first step, but the new staff really needs to work with him to get down to a more manageable weight. If he gets in the 330-340 range, he can be a handful because he has good burst for someone his size.""
Overview: After a big haul in the Class of 2020, Florida has done well cherry-picking top defensive tackles just below the elite level nationally. All four of the above-listed players have the ability to be upper-end type of starters. 
Losing: Dante Zanders
Need: 2

DEFENSIVE END/RUSH LINEBACKER

PlayerCommentStars
Justus Boone‍ If I had to bet on a current player following the career path of Zach Carter, it would be Boone. He has a solid build and is getting stronger. He should take the next step and be a rotational player this fall.""
Chief Borders‍ He still looks a little undersized for Buck, but he’s still a youngster. No one brings as much energy to the team, and he is quickly been viewed as a leader.""
@Jack P">Jack Pyburn‍ he’s starting out at Buck, but being just shy of 6-foot-4 while coming in at 265-pounds, he is likely on a fast track to strong-side defensive end at least, and perhaps even sliding inside. It’s true, I love stars, but he is a three-star well worth taking a gamble on. ""
Tyreak Sapp‍ He was overrated as a five-star early in his senior season, and that probably hurt him as far as expectations being too high. Then, he was late reporting, but the word on him is that he is going to be an upper-end pass rusher.""
Andrew Savaiinaea‍ If we're being honest, who really knew he existed before he visited? Seeing him in person, he is a little bigger than you might think based on his listed measurables. An added plus is that he is athletic for a lineman. Can you get as good in the state of Florida rather than go across the country? Yes, in most cycles. However, most of the in-state talent was already taken before the new staff took over.""

Overview: There is some young 'developmental’ talent at the position, but none of them are ‘wow’ type of players. So, then the question is are any of them in a position to be more than spot players in 2022? I’m not sure. We’ll know more after the spring.
Losing: Brenton Cox
Need: 2

LINEBACKER

PlayerCommentStars
Diwun Black‍ Being a jack of all trades is never a good thing for a football player. It normally means you are the master of none. After being moved all over the backend of the defense, he will concentrate on playing inside linebacker going forward. The talent is there, but to this point, the results aren't.""
Shemar James‍ There weren't but a handful, but this is another big recruiting win for Florida. He missed part of his senior season due to injury. We’ll see where he stands when he reports this summer.""
Jeremiah Williams‍ He started coming on as the season wore on and is seen as a future starter for Florida.""

Overview: The return of Ventrell Miller will take some reps from the younger players but it will also give them a steady player to study and learn from. At this time, Jeremiah Williams is the player most likely seen as the future of the position because Diwun Black is entering his junior season. That means that at best, the pathway for playing time may not be there until he is a senior.
Losing: Amari Burney, Ventrell Miller
Need: 1-2

CORNERBACK

PlayerCommentStars
Jalen Kimber‍ Obviously, going by his high school ranking and the fact that he was competing for a starting job, he has some talent. The fact that he only played in three games in two years though does raise some questions about his putting that ability to good use.""
Jason Marshall Jr.‍ He came just short of living up to his five-star ability, mostly because he wasn't able to harness his physicalness early on, but is still a star in the making and along with Jaydon Hill or Avery Helm, should be a part of the starting cornerback conversation.""
Devin Moore‍ One of the feel-good stories of the recruiting cycle for Florida. The Gators not only stole him from Notre Dame, but he was an All-American Game week standout, giving the Gator Nation bragging rights and a glimpse into the future.""
Jadarrius Perkins‍ He was a little up and down to start, but he really came on during the course of the season and could be someone who gets a look at covering the slot this spring.""
Jordan Young‍ When he first arrived on campus he was seen as a star in the making – and an absolute show out during practices. Then he fell off some and only played in three games as a freshman. The tools are there though to be an SEC-quality starter.""

Overview: If there is an area on the team where Florida has stacked young talent, it is at cornerback. Not only that, Florida is already in the running for some of the top prospects at the position in the Class of 2023.
Losing: None
Need: 2-3


SAFETY

PlayerCommentStars
Corey Collier Jr.‍ He is on par with Ethan Pouncey when it comes to defensive backs who simply don’t look physically ready to play in the SEC. Collier being at safety only magnifies the fact that he has to hit the weight room hard.""
Donovan McMillon‍ While I thought he would contribute as a freshman, he exceeded expectations. He will see an increased role this year, probably even moving ahead of some upperclassmen.""
Dakota Mitchell‍ He didn't play in a single game this past season, and he is one of those young guys you have to keep an eye on to see if younger guys start passing him up""
Kamari Wilson‍ The most heralded Florida safety signee since… He has some coverage ability, but for now he is mostly someone the coaches can put in the box to be consistent against the run, something Florida has been missing.""

Overview: We’ll see what the new strength and conditioning staff can do with Corey Collier before we put a bow on these last two signing classes at the position. One thing the new staff needs to do, either as a focus in recruiting evaluations or in actual on-field coaching is to improve the tackling ability of those on the backend of the defense. There have been way too many missed tackles and bad angles over the past couple of years.
Losing: Trey Dean
Need: 1-2

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