The Florida Gators football program is over a month away from the start of the Dan Mullen era. Mullen was part of the Gators coaching staff for their most recent National Championship as an offensive coordinator. He will now try to repeat that feat, but now as the head coach. The Gators finished last season with a disappointing 4-7 record, but expectations are much higher. Florida has a talented roster with top NFL prospects and big-time playmakers. Everybody knows the stars like Cece Jefferson, Marco Wilson, and David Reese but there are other players that aren’t getting as much attention. This could be the season that those players finally break out and show the nation what they’re made of. Here are three potential breakout players for the Florida Gators defense.
The first player on the list is sophomore Tedarrell Slaton. The former Army All-American is coming off a freshman season in which he transitioned from offensive guard to defensive tackle. Slaton received some playing time last season and even made some big plays in the Vanderbilt game. One of Slaton’s biggest issues is conditioning. At 6’4” 360 pounds, he lacked endurance and it showed on the field. Now, in better shape and in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense, Slaton is expected to break out. Slaton’s body and skill set are built for the 3-4 defense. His huge frame and strength will make him one of the best run stoppers on the team.
2. Shawn Davis
The safety position at Florida has produced a lot of NFL talent like Keanu Neal, Major Wright, and Ahmad Black. Shawn Davis will look to become another star in the long history of great defensive backs out of Florida. The sophomore safety out of Miami had a lot of playing time last year but had his struggles. With a full season under his belt, the former four-star recruit has put on a lot of good weight and looks great. He is a much bigger safety that has always been known as a hard hitter. Davis should get a lot of playing time this season and possibly win one of the starting safety jobs.
The last player on the list is former Under Armour All-American Antonneous Clayton. The skilled defensive end came into Florida with high expectations but has not lived up to them yet. As a freshman, he struggled to add more muscle and didn’t play most of the season. Last season, he had a hard time getting into the rotation and was still learning how to play with his new frame. Now, the former five-star recruit is playing in a defensive scheme that plays into his strengths. Clayton is a pass rusher and is really aggressive when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Clayton will probably not start this season but he will get a ton of playing time on third downs to rush the QB.