Sudden Impact?

Mike Nattiel has graduated

This upcoming season, Florida will have to replace the entire starting linebacking coprs with some fresh new faces. Some of these guys are very talented but just lack playing experience. Can freshman <B>Taurean Charles, Channing Crowder, Brian Crum, Earl Everett and Howard Lingard</B> all make an impact?

Spring Preview - 2003

Linebackers

Florida may have the youngest group of linebackers it's had in recent memory.  The Gator defense does return key players from last year's unit but also some question marks with veterans who need to step up.  The freshman are waiting for their turn and are very athletic and could all develop into big time playmakers.

Returners:


Todd McCollough (Junior OLB)

Started three games last season and played the third most snaps of any linebacker.  Did have some shoulder problems but battled through it to register 32 tackles.  Had a career high 8 tackles versus Auburn.
Strengths: smart intelligent player who is rarely out of position.  Rangey with good instincts against the pass and option.  Very tough run stopper.  Has a great motor.
Weakness:  Not great speed especially in recovery from behind.


Dwright Jackson (Junior,OLB)

Missed six games with injuries last season.  Had a good game against Ole Miss with 5 tackles and a TFL.  Very comfortable on the weakside and is looking to have a strong spring.
Strengths:  good attitude and very athletic when healthy.
Weakness: cannot stay healthy and struggles versus the pass.


Matt Farrior (Senior,OLB/ILB)

Matt was the starting middle linebacker in last year's opener.  He fell out of favor in the switch of Bam to middle because of his lack of toughness versus the run.  Provided special teams insurance.
Strengths:  has garnered a lot of experience and has good size and speed.
Weakness: toughness and will have to display a positive attitude and playmaking ability to not get left behind.


Taurean Charles (Freshman MLB)

Should compete with Channing Crowder for the starting spot at Mike.  He worked at strongside linebacker last fall but started working at middle during bowl preparations.
Strengths:  exceptional mike-linebacker speed.  He can go sideline to sideline and loves to play the run.
Weakness: will make some busts because of experience but will make some huge plays because of his aggressiveness.


Channing Crowder (Freshman ILB)

Sat out the fall recovering from knee injury.  Has a year on other freshman because his clock will start in January.  Very hard worker in the weight room.
Strengths:  once again a youthful fearless run stopper at the middle spot.
Weakness:  knee injury should be 100% but keep an eye on his confidence.  He also lacks experience.


Brian Crum (Freshman OLB)

He has the athleticism to play inside and out.  Could be a dominating outside backer especially on the strong side.  Spent last season at tight end  and won scout team player of the week twice.
Strengths: can really run and is very mobile.  Does not have to come out in certain packages because of his athletic ability.
Weakness:  guess? Experience, he will be green but has enough athletic ability to be in the mold of a Mike Peterson.


Others:  With the Harris experience, and the Fleming experiment both could move back to linebacker if it does not work out.  If one of the young guys get injured then that also will precipitate a move.  Expect Earl Everett, the frosh out of Bushnell, to get a long look this fall as well.  Howard Linguard can provide immediate depth and athletic ability on special teams also.  Larry Kendrick may get another look in the spring although he makes more plays when he lines up further from the ball.

Post Spring Depth Chart:

McCollough, Charles, Jackson