Florida recruiting: How Gators’ 3-4 scheme affects their linebacker needs
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Is LB a true need if guys like Zuniga, polite, Jefferson, Clayton, ancrum can stand up and play a passable OLB position in the 3-4 scheme?
— JH (@DrJHow12) January 17, 2018
This is a great question. With few options at the position and Alabama commit Quay Walker no longer planning to visit the Gators, many fans have concerns about Florida’s linebacker class.
It’s important to keep a couple of factors in mind. First of all, the Gators don’t have a gigantic need at linebacker, despite changing to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
If James Houston and Ventrell Miller return from suspension, Florida will bring back seven players at the position from last season. Moreover, some of Florida’s defensive ends will now stand up and serve as the fourth linebacker.
CeCe Jefferson and Jachai Polite played in a 3-4 scheme in high school and did damage rushing from the edge. Jefferson should thrive in that role again, which is a big reason why he returned for his senior season.
The Gators are recruiting 4-star weakside defensive ends Andrew Chatfield and Caleb Tannor in the same capacity. If one of them chooses Florida, Grantham and linebackers coach Christian Robinson will have plenty of depth to work with.
Florida has signed 4-star recruits David Reese and Amari Burney, who is already enrolled in school. Both players could play linebacker or safety for the Gators, depending on how their bodies develop and where there’s a need for them.
Burney likely will start out at safety with the losses of Randy Russell and Marcell Harris, but has the size (6-foot-1, 219 pounds) to grow into a linebacker. Reese is one of the nation’s top outside linebackers and has a similar frame to Burney at 6-foot-1, 213 pounds.
The bottom line is that Florida should have enough numbers at linebacker and defensive end to field a formidable front-seven in 2018.