For the past few years, Florida Gators football has been boasting the term of being “DBU.” This self-proclaimed title has brought national attention due to the numerous skilled defensive backs who were one of the top players in the country at the position. They would then go on to become high selections in the NFL Draft.
While many Gator fans hope this trend continues, new cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren has his focus elsewhere. His primary focus is seeing his young talented corners continue to build on the successes they experienced a year ago.
Growth in Year Two
One of the bright spots in what was a disappointing 2017 season for Gator football was the emergence of two solid corners. With the loss of Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson to the NFL, the void at corner was a major concern heading into last season. This concern would later turn to a strength for the team with then-freshman cornerbacks CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson. Henderson was tied for the team lead in interceptions with four and Wilson leading the way with 10 pass breakups.
With these two poised for another strong season in year two, Warren wants his prized corners to avoid hitting a sophomore slump, especially with the unit adapting to the new coverage scheme.
A way for them to avoid the slump and improve, according to Warren, is to boost their football IQs.
Warren is trying to instill a culture of competition with his cornerback unit. This is a widespread attempt by all the position coaches on new head coach Dan Mullen’s staff.
Warren wants his players to compete in everything they do, both on and off the field.
This culture must be adopted quickly among the corners especially because Warren hasn’t seen one particular player stand out so far in spring practice. Henderson and Wilson are expected to be starters when the team opens the season. However, the depth behind those two remains to be seen. Warren isn’t worried about the unit’s performance being its spring practice.
Warren said the group has room to improve as the unit competes for playing spots.
Even with the coaching change, Florida was able to assemble a strong recruiting class. The Gators finished with the 13th best class in the country, according to ESPN.
The signing of highly sought-after defensive back Trey Dean helped boost Florida’s class ranking. The four-star defensive back from Hampton, Georgia was one of the main recruits Warren had his eyes on back when Warren was coaching defensive backs at rival Tennessee. When Warren got the job at Florida, his recruitment of Dean continued ending with Dean signing to play with the Orange and Blue. What drew Warren to Dean was his physical stature, speed, competitive nature and ball skills
Warren said Dean has the skill set to make an early impact for the Gators.
Even though Dean comes to Florida as an early enrollee, he has already turned heads in spring practice. Dean has showcased his competitive side in practice, not shying away from the elder members of the team. Warren still has realistic expectations for Dean. There is a general understanding for many players who leave high school early that there is an adjustment period at the start.
Warren said Dean has room to grow once he becomes comfortable with college life.
Chance To Shine
Warren’s cornerback unit have the chance to showcase the development they have made this spring in next week’s Orange and Blue Debut. The spring game is set for a 3 p.m. start on April 14.