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Derek Wingo Talks Gators Defense

As the Orange and Blue Game approaches Thursday night, fourth-year Gator linebacker Derek Wingo spoke to the media Saturday on the upcoming season and how the spring has been beneficial for him.

Spring Practice

Despite limited participation this spring due to shoulder surgery, Wingo has been intentional about studying the playbook. Additionally, he’s been a veteran presence for the linebacker room. The former 2019 Gatorade Florida Player of the Year has waited his turn and is ready to make an impact as a player and leader this season.

“I’ve waited for this opportunity for a long time,” Wingo said. “I’m really excited to get back on the field and show what I can do.”

Wingo’s 2022 Season

In 2022, Wingo recorded 24 tackles and two sacks playing behind Ventrell Miller and Amari Burney. He also started back-to-back games to finish the season including a career-high eight tackle effort in the SRS Distribution Bowl loss to Oregon State.

Wingo noted that being around players like Miller and Burney helped give him a better understanding of what it takes to play in big time college football games.

Battling Through Injury

Wingo reportedly dealt with shoulder and foot injuries for all of 2022. However, he elected to play through them instead of shutting down his season and getting surgery. Although it was painful, he knew from the medical staff that he could not worsen his condition. He was also forced out of the bowl game due to an undisclosed injury, as well.

“All of last year, I played with a small foot injury and my shoulder has been kind of an ongoing thing,” he said. “I’m confident after getting everything healed up that I’ll be able to come back this year a lot stronger.”

Wingo’s endurance as a Gator is rare in college football nowadays and he’s continued to remain patient even when things haven’t gone his way.

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