Replacing Brandon Spikes and Ryan Stamper

The Gators have considered the 3-4 defense this spring for one reason; Florida has an absolutely murderous linebacker corps. The exit of Brandon Spikes and Ryan Stamper will be a big impact, but Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones provide much need experience.

Middle linebacker is the only position up for grabs and it appears to be a two horse race between Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins. Bostic continues to impress with his grasp of the schemes and fundamentals. Jenkins is in the most of the freakish LB that can change a game with one tackle. Behind that, Brendan Beal has seen action in the middle, sliding Jenkins behind Hicks at weakside LB. (MLB and WLB are very similar in this defense.) Senior Lorenzo Edwards has made the case for being included in the rotation. Despite all of this, Neiron Ball might be the most impressive guy. The freshman does not have the size yet, (6-2, 214; he lost two inches between signing day and camp) and projects as a future DE, but he might get playing time too. 

With the exception of Hicks and Jones, UF's linebackers are all potential. But any team would kill to have a second string of Beal, Bostic and Edwards, with Ball used as a rush specialist. Like the rest of the Gators, the real question of their talent will come next season. Starting Saturday, they should only worry about continually improving. Like Spikes in his sophomore season, not matter your talent level, there is an institutional knowledge each player needs. That will come this season.

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