Gators have one of the best in Jachai Polite
GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Do not let his name fool you. Jachai Polite is anything but polite when he sets his eyes on a quarterback.
"If you want to get to a sack you better get there faster than him," said safety Donovan Stiner. "He is really good at what he does and works really hard. It speaks for itself. What does he have like five sacks? Six sacks? I mean he is an amazing pass rusher. Unbelievable."
"I mean, he’s really explosive off the end," said Florida head coach Dan Mullen. "He’s got that type of explosion.”
"Jachai’s speed off the ball is probably the best in the country," linebacker David Reese said. "He’s probably hands down the best pass-rusher in the country, and I love playing with him."
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will certainly remember Polite's name. One week after being named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, the edge rusher added a forced fumble, two sacks, six tackles, and a pass break up.
He is also the only player in the country to force four fumbles this season through six games.
"He gives really good effort, and when he's out there he runs to the ball," said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. "Anytime you can get guys like him coming off the edge that can win one-on-one matchups, you can get tackles for losses, sack-caused-fumbles. You even get to cause penalties when you back them up. I mean that's a negative yardage play, too. "He's certainly done all that for us."
Polite is second in the SEC with six sacks. He is on pace to become the first Florida player to record double-digit sacks since Derrick Harvey, who recorded 11 in 2006.
"Knowing that you're taking the offensive person with the ball down before they make a decision with it, it feels wonderful," said Polite about taking down his target.
Polite's body has seen quite a transformation. The junior defensive lineman arrived in Gainesville weighing somewhere between 268-275 pounds. He now weighs 245 pounds.
"It's just been a mental thing because I'm not used to doing it," said Polite about lifting. "I'm getting used to it now."
His game certainly has been helped by the addition of director of strength and conditioning, Nick Savage, to the program.
"Great strength program. It's crazy."
Polite also benefitted from becoming a pure edge rusher in Grantham's system.
"I think that's what's going to separate him is his ability to bend and accelerate," said Grantham.
Florida can thank former Gator Taven Bryan for Polite's focus on flexibility.
"I used to always watch him do like ankle flexibility things. So I just stole his trick I guess," Polite joked.
Mullen knows a thing or two about successful pass rushers. However, even he just could not compare Polite's game to anyone.
"Been around guys that maybe have some different deals with some power, length," Mullen said. "You know, a Carlos Dunlap who had unbelievable length. You know I had Preston Smith who had great length coming off the edge as well with the explosion but not just the pure the quickness and the burst."
According to Mullen, Dwight Freeney would be the one player he coached (as a graduate assistant in Syracuse in 1998) that could come close to Polite's explosiveness. However, Polite disagrees.
"I was actually talking to my teammate about this and I don't really think so," said Polite when asked if he thinks his game is similar to Freeney or any other NFL player. "I think I'm different. I like other people like other people at my position, the way they play it but I don't think my game's the same as theirs.
"I'm Jachai and just, I don't know, I think I'm different. I know I'm different."
Polite hopes being different will help him when it comes to entering the draft. The Daytona Beach, Fla. native has made it clear from this twitter handle, RetireMoms, that he hopes to provide a better life to the woman that raised him.
"My mom, she's believed in me since I came out of her," he said. "Just don't want her to do anything. I'll take care of her."
With numbers like 6 sacks and four forced fumbles in six games, playing on Sundays seems like a pretty good assumption for Polite.
"Seeing how much weight he shed, how hard he worked -- he’s always been that athletic type of guy, I think he played tight end in high school, so that just lets you know what type of guy that is," said Reese. "And he can stop the run also, too, so it’s not like he’s just a pass-rusher. He’s an all-around guy."
"His ceiling to continue to grow is pretty high," added Grantham. "It's really important that you become a three-down player, and you're always working to play with your hands as a young player, understanding leverage, learning to stand, your ability to set the edge and doing those things.
"The great thing is he wants to be that kind of player, so we'll continue to work in practice and individual and show him on tape where he can improve so that we can continue to make those plays moving forward, maybe more."