First Step is Deadliest for Easley

Dominique Easley

It may have been a rough transition year for Dominique Easley as a freshman, but from all accounts year No. 2 could be a special one for Florida's sophomore defensive tackle. Blessed with a sudden burst off the line of scrimmage, Easley has drawn raves from others on his side of the ball and he has put his freshman year behind him.

The Florida Gators graduated four defensive tackles from the 2010 squad and some young interior linemen are going to have to step up. With a new defensive staff and new systems, it will be some work for everyone involved and sophomore Dominique Easley is ready to prove himself in the new defense.

"Everything is going good," Easley told the Florida media on Monday. "Everyone is getting after it and learning a new system and going hard so far. I am working hard and getting into the system every day."

It's been a smooth few months for Easley who really had his issues as a freshman. There were rumors of trouble between him and teammates and a possible transfer, but Easley brushed it off as the misguided actions of a young man in his first year in college.

"I was just a freshman going through a phase and I am over it," he said. "Everyone gets a little homesick. Everybody went through it, I went through it, and now this is my home.

"Everyone goes through their thing as a freshman. Now I am so adapted to the place, it is much easier."

Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Ronald Powell was part of a No. 1 recruiting class with Easley and the group hung tight through some tough times in 2010 that included an almost complete staff change.

"I was actually one of the guys sticking with him and staying with him," Powell said when asked about Easley's tough time. "We all came here together so we decided to stay together."

Easley was adamant when pressed about never telling anyone he was planning on leaving Florida, even going third person in his response to questioning.

""I never thought I was going anywhere else," he said. "Dominique didn't (say that)."

Now Easley and the 2010 class have bonded and are ready to make a strong go of the 2011 season.

"I want to play for my teammates, Sharrif, Ronald, and the rest of the team," he said adding that he likes playing with fellow 2010 class members Powell and Sharrif Floyd. "It is great having great players right next to you."

These guys are tuned into the team unit.

"Playing as a team… everyone is focused to win a national championship so everyone is striving for one thing and that is what you want on a team," he said.

Easley is playing both inside spots on the defense and likes both about the same.

"I like the nose and tackle," he said. "I feel like I am playing both the same amount. Whatever gets me on the field."

According to Easley the tackles get a great deal of instruction from both defensive line coaches, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young.

"There is no main coach, they both try to teach as much as they can. (Coach Young teaches all about) technique and to work harder, how to get off blocks and use your hands… defensive line techniques."

He's also learning a lot from his competition in practice every day when he goes up against the Florida offensive line. He believes the whole OL unit is a good one.

"Every one of them," he replied when asked which linemen are hard to go up against. "We work each other and get better at the same time."

What the offense is having a hard time dealing with is Easley's first step. There has been an underlying theme when it comes to Dominique Easley and how he plays up front for the Florida defense. He seems to get to the backfield faster than anyone else can.

"I would say that is what everyone loves about me," Easley said with a smile.

Junior linebacker Jon Bostic says the defense sometimes has to re-watch practice film of Easley just to see how quick he really does get into the backfield. "Easley… that is probably the fastest I have ever seen anybody get off the ball," Bostic said. "The center says ‘hut' and Jonotthan Harrison is two yards in the backfield. (Easley's) get-off is crazy. Sometimes we just paused the film and look and every other defensive lineman had taken just half a step and Easley has taken two or three."

However, Bostic says it is no surprise. They watched a lot of the same stuff from the sophomore defensive tackle as a freshman.

"I saw a lot of this stuff last year," Bostic said. "That is something I have always noticed since he got here… his first step coming off the ball."

"Easley is so explosive off the ball His get off is just ridiculous and it makes it hard for guys to block him," Powell said. "By the time they snap the ball and get ready to block him, he is already passing them."

All of that is something the Gators' defense didn't see enough of last year. With a premium on a pass rush, Easley's development is crucial to the success of the 2011 season.

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