Bostic is a Huge Bonus for 2009

Jon Bostic

This was supposed to be a spring of maturation and building depth for the national champion Florida Gators. But, just like every spring, there was likely going to be a surprise or two along the way. The Gators return their best depth at linebacker in the last 25 years or more, yet it was a true freshman linebacker that probably surprised everybody except those that recruited him.

When the Gators set out to recruit linebackers for the class of 2009, they really were not pursuing many. All three starters were returning, and all of their backups for the deepest linebacker corps the Gators may have ever had. Still, there was this one linebacker they targeted in South Florida from the very beginning.

Jon Bostic played football at Palm Beach Central. The son of a former NFL player, Bostic actually was a safety in high school and utilized his speed and toughness to wreak havoc from the position. Still, the Gators knew Bostic was special and set out to make him their top priority at the linebacker position. For most of the recruiting process, he was the only linebacker they wanted.

Urban Meyer and company have been pretty spot on with their recruiting targets so far since his second year of recruiting and the Tim Tebow- Percy Harvin 2006 class that will go down as one of the best in Florida history. It looks again like they hit another home run, at least with the addition of Bostic to the 2009 edition.

Following the close of spring practice and the public scrimmage in front of 65,000 fans, Meyer addressed the media and lauded his prized freshman linebacker.

"I love the guy," Meyer said of Bostic. "He's professional. His father played in the NFL. We sat in his home when we were recruiting and he said, 'I am going to be very serious about my job and I am going to take care of my stuff off the field,' and he has. He's been tremendous in the weight room and has tremendous skill on the football field. He's the guy that deflected Tebow's pass...he's done that all spring. He's playing, the redshirt is gone...now he is battling for a starting spot at Florida. Think about that for a minute, we have some decent linebackers."

The unassuming Bostic didn't even know he would be playing on the first snap from scrimmage until the game was on. Starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes sat out the scrimmage and has been encouraging Bostic since he arrived on campus.

"I didn't know it was going to happen until I went out on the field," Bostic said of getting the first snap. "When they called for the first team they called my name. (Spikes) was just telling me that you have to want it on every play. I am just trying to follow in his footsteps right now and learn as much as I can"

There is little doubt he has been out of position a lot this spring, but there is less doubt that Bostic will be one heck of a linebacker at Florida before all is said and done. He learns quickly and has become a steady and spectacular force on the defense as the spring progressed.

"I learned a lot, just from the couple of days we were out there, I learned a lot more about linebacker than I have before," he said. "Most of the time I was running around out there and trying to make plays. Now I am learning to read guards and splits...everything. It's not so tough when I am watching someone else do it, I am watching Spikes every time he is in. Whatever he is doing I am trying to do the same thing when I get in.

"It has come quickly and pretty easily. When I watch something I can usually turn around and do it the next play."

Bostic could be found many times this spring making plays all over the field. He has that nose for the ball and the instincts to shed blockers and get to the ball carrier any way he can. Once he is there Bostic had a knack for hurting people this spring.

"At safety (in high school) I really liked contact back there and moving up in the box means I can be in the action a bit more," he said.

In the final scrimmage and in front of the crowd on Florida Field, Bostic made his first big play at the start of the second quarter. Tim Tebow was back to pass and tried to throw over the middle. Bostic dropped correctly into his zone and was able to deflect the pass as a teammate ran under it for an interception.

"I could have gotten the interception," he said matter of fact like. "I didn't think I was going to get that high to get the ball. I actually got both hands on it and tipped it up for Dorian Munroe get the ball."

Bostic had no preconceived notions as to what might happen with him in his first year at Florida. As it turns out, he needs to be mentally ready to hit the field in that first week in September.

"My thoughts coming in were to learn as much as I could this year and if I had to redshirt, then redshirt," he said.

At 235 pounds and speed like he is shot out of a cannon, Jon Bostic is a human wrecking ball on the football field with a ball carrier in sight. He was by far the big surprise of the spring, in a spring that had a lot of positive surprises for the Gators. He hurt more ball carriers than anyone this spring, and did so with legal but punishing hits. He is going to be a pleasure to watch for Gator fans and a terror for future opponents.

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