Defense: Projecting the two-deep depth chart

Mar 11, 2022 | 0 comments

While a coaching staff may publically say that there is no depth chart and all jobs are open for competition, the truth is, when there is a returning coaching staff in place, they have preconceived notions about the players on the roster.

However, with an all-new coaching staff, the depth chart really does start over from scratch.

With that in mind, Inside the Gators' Cameron Parker shares his best guess of what he believes the two-deep will look like at the end of 14 spring practices and the Spring Orange & Blue Debut.

If viewing on a smartphone, turn the phone horizontally

Desmond Watson

Standing at six feet five inches and weighing 415 pounds, Watson’s size earned him early playing time in 2021, but he was mostly used as a reserve. A major goal for the previous staff was for Watson to drop weight, and that will continue to be a goal for Mark Hocke and the new strength staff as the offseason progresses.

Jalen Lee

Lee has yet to make an immediate impact on the field with only 11 tackles in 3 seasons, but with the lack of experience and Lyons not on campus, the former four-star has a head start to be the backup.

Gervon Dexter

After splitting time with multiple teammates the last two seasons, this is truly Dexter’s first opportunity to be the full time starter. With what he’s shown in split playing time, Dexter has the tools to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country.

Chris McClellan

Behind Dexter, there is little-to-no experience in the group, which opens for the true-freshman early enrollee to earn early playing time. McClellan has an edge over fellow signee Jamari Lyons due to Lyons not enrolling yet, but both will compete for early playing time behind Dexter.

Princely Umanmielen

Umanmielen saw a jump in playing time as the 2021 season progressed and started in Zach Carter’s place for the Gasparilla Bowl. With his experience, albeit limited, gives him the edge over the youngsters, at least for now.

Tyreak Sapp

The backup spot behind Umanmielen is truly wide open as Sapp, Summerall III, Powell or Justus Boone could win the spot. For now, Summerall III and Powell are listed as outside linebackers and Sapp’s high recruiting ranking put him slightly ahead of Boone.


Brenton Cox

Cox Jr. comes off his best season to date after recording a team-high 8.5 sacks in 2021. After contemplating the draft, he returns for what should be his final season in Gainesville and looks to be one of the SEC stat leaders while heading up a youthful group.

Chief Borders

Borders rarely saw the field in his first season as a Gator, but his ability to play both inside linebacker and outside linebacker as well as his size (six feet five inches and 242 Ibs) are hard to ignore. The backup spot is technically wide open as Lloyd Summerall III and Antwaun Powell will also fight for playing time, but it looks to be Borders’ job to lose entering spring.



Derek Wingo

Despite not playing much early in the season, Wingo’s role in the defense grew as the season progressed, especially when Christian Robinson took over play calling duties. With the tackling struggles last season and the recent transfers (Mohamoud Diabate and Ty’Ron Hopper), Wingo looks to be the early favorite for the starting spot.

Amari Burney

High expectations came as Burney began to grow in the defense, but he has yet to truly reach those expectations. He provides versatility as he can play both the linebacker spot and the STAR/nickel, but with his struggles outside, he would be best suiting inside at the natural linebacker spot full time, but don’t be surprised once Shemar James arrives on campus or for Scooby Williams to push for playing time.



Ventrell Miller

After a shoulder injury ended his 2021 season, Miller returns for a sixth season with the Gators and is the undisputed leader of the defense. Poor tackling as a unit was ran wild with Miller gone, so expect the number of missed tackles to decrease dramatically with him back.

Diwun Black

The nations No. 1 JUCO recruit in the class of 2021 was branded as the next big star due to his loyalty to the program and his ability to play the STAR and inside linebacker spots. However, he did not see the field often, leaving many to wonder what his role would be. With two linebackers transferring out of the program, it’s the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the depth chart.


Tre’Vez Johnson

The primary starter at the STAR position in 2021, it was a season of highs and lows for Johnson. He had inconsistency issues as he would miss a tackle one play but make a brilliant play the next. Going into spring, improving on tackling will be the focus for Johnson to make the next step in his progress.

Jadarrius Perkins

Another 2021 JUCO transfer and Black’s teammate, Perkins was Johnson’s backup and was slightly better at tackling than Johnson, but not by much. Should tackling issues continue with either Johnson or Perkins, Kamar Wilcoxson, who was just medically cleared to return to the field, could jump in. For now, it’s Perkins’ spot to lose.

Jason Marshall

A rare five-star recruit from the Mullen era, Marshall showed why he’s the next face of the famous Gator defensive back unit as he only allowed 191 yards in 2021, which was good for second in the SEC behind Kaiir Elam. Now, Marshall will get a full season to show why he could be one of the best corners in the SEC while continuing to develop.

Avery Helm

When Jaydon Hill went down with a torn ACL, Helm surprisingly was announced as the starter opposite of Elam. Helm had some growing pains, but after not giving up a single touchdown and, before the bowl game, ranking second in the FBS in least yards allowed (217 yards), he will be a solid contributor behind Marshall.


Jaydon Hill

Hill was greatly missed after tearing his ACL the first practice of fall camp, ending his season before it really began. He’s been participating in offseason workouts with a brace and will be ready to go, but he will take things slower than everyone else as he regains strength and continues to fully recover.

Jalen Kimber

By way of the transfer portal, the former Georgia Bulldog comes in ready to make an immediate impact. Like Hill, Kimber is also coming off a season-ending injury (shoulder), but he is not fully medically cleared just yet.


Rashad Torrence

As far as players who made the biggest jump from 2020 to 2021, Torrence II headlines that group. In his first season as the starter, Torrence II recorded 62 more tackles than the previous season while adding three interceptions. With a full season as a starter under his belt, he looks to take the next step.

Donovan McMillon

Outside of Marshall, McMillon saw the field the most as a freshman on defense, although it was as a reserve. Any experience is good experience, and with a new staff in place, McMillon looks to continue to grow as a backup.


Trey Dean

By way of the transfer portal, the former Georgia Bulldog comes in ready to make an immediate impact. Like Hill, Kimber is also coming off a season-ending injury (shoulder), but he is not fully medically cleared just yet.

Kamari Wilson

The face of Billy Napier’s inaugural recruiting class, Wilson provides talent and a high ceiling while also reestablishing the IMG Academy to Florida pipeline in recruiting. He most likely won’t start right away, but being a spring enrollee gives him an advantage, and a solid spring performance would give him playing time early and often.

Tags: Sport

Never miss the latest news from Inside the Gators!

Join our free email list