Note: This is the second of a two-part series on UF’s defense. For Part One, click here.
I’ll keep this short and sweet: Florida has the best cornerback in the country (Vernon Hargreaves III), whom I would put against any receiver in the SEC, and would walk away the winner. As a true freshman last season, he started 10 games and finished the year with three interceptions (including a beauty at Miami), 15 passes defended, and 11 pass breakups.
Backing Hargreaves up and covering the other side of the field stands prized recruit Jalen Tabor. Initially thought a lock to play safety, he has shined through fall practice at his natural position of CB. Tabor adds length, and has a wingspan that would make Jay Bilas drool, but he needs to work on his tackling.
Duke Dawson, who is quick at gauging ball movements and covers his opponent well downfield, is also in the mix. He makes tackles happen, which is something that J.C. Jackson needs to work on if he wants to start opposite Hargreaves. Brian Poole, if all things work out on the ends, will be the inside cover.
Bottom line: this is one unit about which you need not worry in the coming weeks and months.
Go to 1:51 for the Hargreaves highlight below
Again, a position I’m pretty comfortable with going forward – though not as much as I am with cornerback. Marcus Maye and Jabari Gorman bring both depth and experience to the backfield. Maye was replaced by Jaylen Watkins last season due to poor decision making against Miami, but, based off spring and fall practices so far, looks ready to start.
Gorman notched 48 tackles, along with one interception and forced fumble apiece last season. He will fill the void left by Cody Riggs quite nicely.
The Gators are stacked at both the above positions, and should have a dominant, blanketing secondary.