Despite sloppy play, easy to see NFL talent in SEC showdown
Tennessee-Florida was far from a classic, but a few Gators and Vols showed signs of NFL talent.
It wasn’t pretty for either team to start, but Florida was able to right the ship and defeat Tennessee in Gainesville, 31-17. Despite seven combined turnovers in the first half, several players stood out in this SEC showdown.
DT Dominique Easley, Florida – The senior is one of the most explosive defensive linemen in the country and continues to show it each week. Although his final stat line wasn’t overly impressive (one tackle, zero sacks), Easley was consistently in the Tennessee backfield and forced early throws and overall disruption in the Volunteers’ gameplan. He is routinely the first defensive lineman off the ball and uses his lateral quickness and body control to win gaps and angles to make him near impossible to square up for blockers. He doesn’t have elite power for the position, but with his nonstop motor, Easley is a load to handle, whether he lines up inside or outside on the Gators’ defensive line.
LT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee – There is no denying that he had his struggles today, especially against Florida's talented pass rusher Dante Fowler. But it’s easy to see why Richardson is so highly thought of by many at the next level. He has an ideal frame and wingspan for the position with the set-up quickness that is above average for a 330+ pounder. Richardson needs to iron-out issues with his technique, balance and finishing toughness, but he’s a very good mover for his size and has a lot of potential if he can continue to develop.
LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee – A player who is consistently around the ball, Johnson led the SEC in tackles a year ago and is on pace to be one of the conference leaders again in 2013. He finished the Florida/Tennessee match-up with 10 tackles, his 14th career double-digit tackle performance at the college level. Johnson has only average range and isn’t a special athlete, but he plays hard and fast on every snap, impressing with his high-effort mentality. He has strong hands and is a violent tackler who looks to strike through his target and leave his mark, something that was obvious on several occasions in this contest. While he isn’t that elite-type of prospect, he is a physical, hard-nosed linebacker who leaves it all on the field.
Florida true sophomore defensive end Dante Fowler might have had the best performance of the game, but we’ll have to wait another season until he’s draft-eligible.
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