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In the coming weeks, Inside the Gators will be taking a look at members of the 2012 signing class who redshirted last season by talking to the people who know them best. Up today is former four-star defensive end and linebacker Alex McCalister.
Alex McCalister had a good idea of what his first year at Florida would be like when he left Clemmons, N.C., for Gainesville last June.
Players cast as linebacker-defensive end hybrids don't play in the Southeastern Conference at 6-foot-6, 206 pounds. McCalister had a long way to go if he wanted to physically make it in the SEC and he knew that.
"I don't think it's been much of a challenge because they've done it and they've got the resources to do it," said Adrian Snow, McCalister's former coach at Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth. "He has the frame to do it. He just has to do it."
McCalister spent the season listed at 222 pounds on the UF roster. Snow said the last update he heard, McCalister was weighing in at 236 pounds. Florida's meal and weight programs, combined with the fact McCalister didn't see any game action as a redshirted player, seem to be working.
Still, McCalister is more lanky than your average SEC defender and could easily be mistaken for a basketball player around campus. That fits given the fact McCalister was a star basketball player at West Forsyth.
The transition from high school standout to member of the Florida scout team wasn't as rough as it sounds for McCalister. Knowing he would have to sit out at least one year, McCalister took the scout team role in stride and was often rewarded for it.
Florida coach Will Muschamp mentioned his name numerous times during the season as a player impressing in practice and often named him scout team defensive player of the week.
"He got to dress in some games and he still got to be a part of everything," Snow said. "They do a good job of making sure you feel a part. … They do some things to reward the kids who are doing what they are supposed to do, which is a good thing."
According to Snow, McCalister took care of things off the field as well. He posted a perfect GPA in his first fall semester of college and adapted well to living more than 500 miles from home.
Snow didn't know of a target weight for McCalister to reach, and Muschamp has often said Florida's weight program is more situational than it is set numbers.
McCalister is still being molded for eventual action as a hybrid player in the Florida system that bounces between 4-3 and 3-4 foundations. Until he is ready for that, he might be a perfect candidate for a special teams role given his athleticism.
"The cool thing for Alex is he's smart and he doesn't mind doing stuff like that. He just wants to play. He understood what this year was about and now it's more along the lines of, 'Alright, what can I do to help myself down the road?'" Snow said. "I know they've got some great players, but I don't know if there's a better athlete. He's amazing. He is freakish."