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Florida safety Amari Burney (30) celebrates with linebacker Ventrell Miller, left, and tight end Lucas Kull, right, after he blocked a Colorado State punt that led to a Florida touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gator linebackers look to improve

With only one returning starter returning, the Florida Gator linebackers will look to make some serious strides before the start of the season.

Inexperienced Vets

David Reese II is the only returning starting linebacker on defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense. Despite an ankle injury sidelining him for three games a season ago, Reese finished with the second most tackles on the team. He’ll look to be a leader on the front seven this year. The senior had high praise for the young group.

Joining the unit is sophomore Amari Burney. Burney appeared in 12 games last season as a rotation piece in the secondary and was a major factor on special teams. He recorded his first career sack against Michigan in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and will look to build on that as the season approaches. Burney described the biggest adjustment for him moving from the secondary.

The final piece to this starting group is graduate transfer Jonathan Greenard out of Louisville. He missed the entire 2018 season after suffering a wrist injury on his first defensive series. In 2017, he led the Cardinals defense in tackles-for-loss and tied for the lead in sacks.

How they line up

Grantham will utilize the same 4-3 defensive scheme that was effective a year ago. Reese will occupy the middle linebacker position while Burney plays the weak side. Greenard will play as the buck linebacker which allows him to drop back into coverage and rush off the edge. This scheme is what made Florida’s D-line, especially Jachai Polite, flourish last year.

Freshman linebacker David Reese went down during the offseason with an Achilles injury. With his injury, there is little depth among this group. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson will need to make sure his group is conditioned an ready to go with the season less than a month away.

The Miami Hurricanes will deploy a trio of All-American linebackers come game time in late August. In order for the Gators to come out on top against the Hurricanes, they’re going to need the inexperienced linebacker group to out duel the talented veterans on the opposing side.

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