Florida Football

Parental Perspective: It's Deja Vu for Gator players in Super Bowl

February 3, 2019

Dominique Easley
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The Super Bowl can create a legend, make a moment that last forever and change how we think of the games most interesting players. When the New England Patriots face off against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday afternoon, it will pit the leagues old guard against the hotshot new guys, setting up for a storyline that can’t be predicted and has the potential to change the game. 

But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Dominique Easley still dances between plays, just like he did when he was a defensive star for the Florida Gators. So does his teammate, Dante Fowler Jr.

Easley, the former first rounder was who was traded from the New England Patriots to the Los Angeles Rams, has found a home on the west coast with the hotshot NFC Champions, much like he did in 2010 when he left New York to play football in Florida.

“He was comfortable, he was at home and he had friends,” Carina, his mom, tells Inside the Gators of the feeling her son was searching for in Gainesville that’s now mirrored in Hollywood.

“They watch over him, I wasn’t worried. Plus he was one, if he put something in his mind, he followed through.”

Fowler, the former first rounder who was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars in mid-season to the Rams, has found a home with Easley’s team as well, showcasing a playmaking ability that his mom Lanora tells Inside the Gators had been missing for a few years but is strikingly familiar.

“We talked and I told him, I said ‘DJ this didn’t happen by mistake, this was your destiny.’ And during the time when he was going through what he did in Jacksonville, I kept saying ‘hang in there D, hang in there, it’s just gonna get better. Bend don’t break.’

“When he made the transition over to Los Angeles and we just really can tell the difference in his spirit and how excited he was and how the guys took him in and helped him with the play book and he felt finally like ‘I belong and I can contribute a lot more than what I was at Jacksonville.’

“Just in the scheme of how the play was, you know DJ loved to rush, he loved to do different—different packages where you think he’s gonna rush but he ends up in the middle…and it’s almost like as if this is what I’m seeing now, what he did at Florida.”

What both did at Florida—creating a legacy of prolific edge rushers that set a standard with Easley notching 71 career tackles with 18 for loss and Fowler adding 140 career tackles with 33.5 for loss not to mention starting a tradition with a Chucky doll—began in much the same way that’s being repeated now. Easley suffered an ACL injury in 2013, forcing the younger Fowler to take on a much larger role at the BUCK position in Easley’s absence. While Dominique offered veteran leadership from the sidelines, Fowler found his calling on the edge in a scheme that allowed him freedom to play.

Fast-forward to the 2018 season and history is repeating itself, with Fowler brought in to join one of, if not the strongest defensive line in the sport while Easley rehabs from a knee injury. In 10 games with the Rams, Fowler has 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Yet again, the two can call on past experience, even on the games biggest stage, like how Easley uses the opportunity to teach his protégé.http://instagr.am/p/BtZB8vrgUaM" style="margin: 0px;" />

Easley Instagram
Donald, Easley and Fowler

“I’ve been encouraged, I’m proud of him,” says Carina

“He had different obstacles but he never, he’s a go-getter. That don’t stop him. Whether he’s playing or not, he’s still gonna support his team.” 

A team that yet again includes Dante Fowler Jr. and will be facing his former Patriots...which now boasts former Gators Duke Dawson and Trenton Brown

But for all that’s the same, there’s no denying the difference in today. This is the dream that every young boy dares to hope for while growing up, playing at in the backyard and citing as the ultimate goal. For the mom’s that have helped get them to this point, the day holds a special meaning as well.

“It’s gonna be a tight game, it’s gonna be a brutal game because the Patriots aren’t gonna go down,” says Carina Easley.

“I could see this going to overtime but the Rams, this year could be, this year’s the year, they’re ready for this.”

Adds Lanora Fowler, “I’m excited, kinda nervous at the same time, I don’t know why I’m nervous; this is definitely a different feeling.”

Dante Fowler was traded from Jacksonville to LA midseason


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