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Florida Football

Former Florida Football Player Roundtable II

January 25, 2020

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We know how the media and the Gator Nation feel about the just concluded 2019 Florida football season. Over the next couple of weeks Inside the Gators will take it a step further by having former Florida football players share their thoughts on the season, grading Dan Mullen, the players who surprised and disappointed, who they believe will have a breakout 2020 season and much more.



Up today in Part II are former Florida offensive lineman Leon Hires, safety Kyle Jackson and defensive lineman Earl Okine.

Taking everything into consideration, record, program building, recruiting, etc... on a scale of 1-to-10 how would you rate Dan Mullen as Florida's head football coach after his first two seasons?

Hires: I would give him a nine. A playoff appearance would have gotten him a 10.

Jackson: I would rate Dan Mullen a nine. That is about as high as you can expect because of what he had to change coming in as the new head coach. The culture change, mindset and most important physically. But he’s not a 10 until we have a season like we have been having, but along with NOT losing to Georgia. Which I think everyone would have to agree with!

Okine:  I think you have to give him a 10. I think he has gone above and beyond expectations, especially considering the short time he has been the head coach. 

What is the one thing that most impresses you about Mullen/Florida football?

Hires: That no matter who has been the quarterback the team remained very competitive. That bodes well for the future.

Jackson: The one thing that impresses me most about Dan Mullen is that week in and week out he has the Gators mentally and physically prepared. Puts them in the best position in order to succeed in such a hard conference.

Okine: Coach Mullen's ability to connect with players and his sincerity when dealing with his players. Along with his obvious talent for creating offenses.

What is the one thing that you feel is least impressive about Mullen/Florida football?

Hires: Least impressive is the two games vs Georgia. We got out-coached on third down this year.

Jackson: The least impressive is that we can’t seem to beat those damn Bulldogs!! That has to happen this year, and I think he knows that.

Okine: There's nothing specific that I can point to as a deficiency. Some personnel changes earlier perhaps. 

What player surprised you most this past season?

Hires:  Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts.

Jackson: The player that surprised me the most would probably be the popular pick of Kyle Trask. When Feleipe Franks went down everyone counted the Gators out and Trask stepped right in and took over. He is a very poised quarterback for not ever starting a game - even in high school.

Okine:  By far Kyle Trask impressed me the most. He is definitely an NFL talent. 

What player most disappointed you this past season?

Hires: It has to be Kadarius Toney. It's not his fault either, it's because of low touches.

Jackson: As a safety myself, I am a little harder on that position, so the player that was a disappointment last season for me was Brad Stewart. I know he was battling some injuries but I thought coming into his junior year he was going to be the Captain in the secondary. He barely made any big time plays and was just not on the field enough. Hopefully this year with proper training and nutrition he will ball out his senior year like we all know he can.

Okine: Feleipe Franks was the most disappointing to me, but only because he was injured. 

Taking into consideration who is returning at their position, what departing player do you feel Florida will miss most heading into next season?

Hires: Even though the running back group has good depth, I think we are going to miss Lamical Perine the most.

Jackson: Originally I would have said C.J. Henderson at corner, but after seeing Kaiir Elam, we are just fine at that position. I would have to say David Reese at middle linebacker. He might be a little undersized but he was the leader of the team and defense. He was always in the right position at the right time and very rarely had a missed opportunity. He will make a NFL team and play for a long time.

Okine: The sky is the limit next year but I still think Lamical Perine will be a very missed piece of the puzzle because of his role in the offense will be hard for just one player to fill. 

What Florida player do you expect to have a breakout season in 2020?

Hires:  Finally! It's going to be Kadarius Toney.

Jackson: I think it’s Trevon Grimes time to have a breakout year. He has attributes you look for in a big time receiver. Now he needs to focus and make every catch/play that comes his way! He runs great routes and is fast, but needs to work on catching the ball this offseason. If he can minimize dropped balls - he will be an All-American and a first round pick no doubt.

Okine: Again, with another offseason under Dan Mullen, I believe Kyle Trask will have an even more productive year and possibly be in the Heisman conversation. 

Specifically, what do you think of how Florida looks heading into next year at the position you played?

Hires: The offensive Line remains the thinnest position on the team, but hopefully some of the younger guys will get stronger over the offseason and step up next year.

Jackson: Florida looks really good at the safety position with wwo starters coming back in Brad Stewart and Shawn Davis! I expect big things out of the group this year. It should be fun watching the defensive backs in 2020. DBU might be back!

Okine: The defensive line overall looked pretty good this past year and will definitely make strides this off season under David Turner.


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