Countdown to Camp: Defensive Line

Look for a rotation from eight to 10 guys for the deepest group on the defense. Much is expected of Cece Jefferson (96) this seaoson, along with the rest of the UF defensive front, by far the deepest position group on that side of the ball. * Part 5

DEFENSIVE LINE

They’re back: DT Taven Bryan (6-5, 293, R-Junior); DE/DT Cece Jefferson (6-1, 261, Junior); DL Khairi Clark (6-2, 319, R-Junior); DE Jabari Zuniga (6-3, 245, R-Sophomore); DE Jordan Sherit (6-4, 254, R-Senior); DE Keivonnis Davis (6-4, 241, Junior); DE Antonneous Clayton (6-3, 220, Sophomore); DL/DE Jachai Polite (6-2, 271, Sophomore).

Fresh faces: DE Elijah Conliffe (6-4, 312, Freshman); DL Zachary Carter (6-4, 263, Freshman); DT Tedarrell Slaton (6-4, 349, Freshman); DE Jordan Smith (6-5, 240, R-Freshman); DT Kyree Campbell (6-3, 323, Freshman). Taven Bryan Overview: Defensive line coach Chris Rumph was promoted during the offseason to co-defensive coordinator because of the incredible job he’s done developing linemen the last two seasons. The Gators, who ranked second in the Southeastern Conference to Alabama in total defense (293.3 yards per game) and fifth against the run (144.5 ypg), must replace a trio of players now on NFL rosters — Caleb Brantley (Cleveland) and Joey Ivie (Dallas) were drafted, while Bryan Cox , Jr. (Carolina) signed as a free agent — but this group is far better positioned to fill the the vacancies left by pro-bound players than the two areas (linebacker and secondary) we’ll be writing about Sunday and Monday, respectively. UF figures to roll out a rotation anywhere from eight to 10 players deep, which means guys who produce know they’re going to play. That makes for very good chemistry. Bryan and Jefferson are top candidates for serious breakout seasons. Bryan, the so-called “Wyoming Wildman,” has been, pound for pound, one of the best athletes on the team since he first set foot on the Florida campus. Some really good players and maybe an unwillingness to play within the scheme have kept him on the sidelines. Bryan, though, made big-time strides in the spring relative to his on-field discipline and will be turned loose in 2017. Ditto Jefferson (30 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hurries in ’16), the former five-star recruit who already has some pretty good tape on his resume — from both the end and tackle spots. Those two, plus the oft-injured Sherit (38 tackles, 5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and 2 QB hurries), and Clark, who has played in all 27 games his first two seasons, loom as the veteran leaders. Then come the underclassmen — and there are a bunch of good ones. Which of them seize the opportunity is something that will play out during preseason and probably into the regular season. Zuniga, long and lithe, showed some spurts last season on his way to five sacks. Davis played in all 13 games last season. Clayton was a five-star who may look undersized, but makes up for it with […]