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Position Review: Young but talented linebacker corps has high ceiling

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Sophomore linebacker Vosean Joseph (11) (USA Today Sports Images)

With spring practices in the books and fall camp about three months away, Inside the Gators now will take a position-by-position look at Florida's roster. Today, we examine the linebackers.

THE PLAYERS:

Spring participants at linebacker: Kylan Johnson (redshirt sophomore; 6-1, 231), Vosean Joseph (sophomore; 6-1, 226), Cristian Garcia (redshirt senior walk-on; 6-1, 231), Jeremiah Moon (redshirt freshman; 6-4, 218), Rayshad Jackson (redshirt sophomore; 6-0, 226), Camrin Knight (junior; moved from tight end to linebacker; 6-3, 246)

Injured this spring: David Reese (sophomore; 6-0, 244; wrist)

Non-contact this spring: James Houston IV (freshman early enrollee; 6-1, 233; torn ACL)

2017 summer semester enrollees: Ventrell Miller (freshman; 6-0, 227), Nick Smith (freshman; 6-3, 210), Lacedrick Brunson (freshman; 6-2, 210)

Departures: Jarrad Davis (graduated), Alex Anzalone (declared early for the NFL Draft), Daniel McMillian (graduated)

OVERVIEW: As Florida operated primarily out of the nickel for much of the 2016 season in Geoff Collins' defense, the Gators rode mainly Davis and Anzalone at linebacker for the first half of the season. When UF would turn to a three-linebacker look, McMillian was often utilized at strongside linebacker.

However, Davis (ankle) and Anzalone (arm) eventually suffered injuries that would either hamper or sideline them down the stretch. Soon, we witnessed a few true or redshirt freshmen - Johnson, Reese and Joseph - see increased roles.

Reese stepped up to the plate at middle linebacker, starting four games in 12 appearances and finishing fifth on the team in tackles (49). Johnson's role also increased, seeing time at outside linebacker in 13 appearances (six starts) and logging the seventh-best total on the team in tackles with 39. He also would add five TFL, a sack and a fumble recovery.


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