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Florida Gators Countdown to Kickoff: Big Gervon Dexter checks in at No. 9

Florida has a history of great defensive lineman. Gervon Dexter could still be among its best ever.

Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

It’s hard to get hyped for a defensive lineman, especially one who plays the interior.

It’s the Reggie Whites, Michael Strahans, and J.J. Watts of the world who get the sacks, after all. And sacks are so important that Michael Lewis wrote a book about the art and science of finding players to prevent them — which inadvertently led to Houston Nutt playing himself in a movie, something we should all be ... well, maybe not grateful for, but at least aware of.

Florida’s history of thrilling defensive lineman is largely a history of edge rushers, too: Jack Youngblood, Kevin Carter, Alex Brown, Jevon Kearse, Dante Fowler. Coming free in space is the sexy thing a defensive lineman can do. Controlling the trenches is drudgery.

Or, well, it mostly is. Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd managed to transcend that in their day, I think — despite injuries and a lack of on-paper production, both made their marks and earned their respect as men in the middle of the line.

Now it’s Gervon Dexter’s turn.

Hyped since the beginning of his recruiting cycle, Dexter has a rare blend of power and speed for the defensive tackle position, and has likely only gotten stronger under Nick Savage. He’s also publicly motivated by the memory of his late father, making him so very easy to root for.

He’s just a sophomore, and he’s going to be rotating on Florida’s line with a trio of experienced transfers and flanked by flashier ends. This fall may not yield the best we see from Dexter, nor even his best opportunity to wreak havoc.

But he has the tools to be a force, to flash on occasion and hold up on the regular. And I’ll be watching him eagerly hoping to see some of that grunt work done well.