Gators
South Carolina receiver Shi Smith (13) spins out of a tackle by Florida defensive back Jaydon hill (23) during an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, Pool)

New Role For Gators Defensive Back Jaydon Hill

Florida junior defensive back Jaydon Hill has stepped out of his comfort zone this season. The veteran defender switched his position last spring from outside cornerback to nickel.

So far, Hill has made the transition look seamless.

Jaydon Hill on Position Adjustment

The nickelback position is generally regarded as one of the most physically demanding positions on the football field. A major difference between this position and outside cornerback is having more responsibility in helping with the run.

At nickelback, it is much more crucial to be able to fight through blocks and close run gaps, Hill explained. He described some of the work he has had to put in to adjust to this physicality.

Hill credited his early success to the reps he had gotten in the spring, as well as his work with his coaches. He mentioned several coaches, such as Director of Speed Improvement and Skill Development Tiger Jones and Strength and Conditioning Assistant Edward Jones when speaking about his physical development.

Hill has battled injuries in the past that have forced him to miss time in prior seasons. This season, Hill is grateful to be healthy and has developed some extra explosiveness on the field because of it.

In addition to the physical adjustments, Hill expressed that there is also mental adjustments he needed to make. As the inside defensive back, the burden of communication on the field falls on the nickelback more than it would on the outside corner. The nickel has the responsibility of quickly relaying the play call to other members of the secondary, he explained.

Looking Ahead

After a dominant home victory for the Gators against Vanderbilt, the team’s focus now shifts to South Carolina. Florida will travel to Columbia, South Carolina for its matchup with the Gamecocks and will be looking for its first road victory of the season. The Gators have dropped both of their road contests to open the season.

Hill admitted that the team was aware of their struggles on the road to this point in the season. He also said that they have to move past what has happened and come out focused on winning this matchup.

Florida defeated South Carolina 38-6 in the Swamp last season. Despite this, Hill emphasized that this is a new season and this 2023 Gators team needs to head into this contest ready to play and execute at a high level.

The Gators will head to Columbia for a matchup with the Gamecocks Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

About Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major with a sports media focus. He is aspiring for a career in sports media writing, production or sports content creation. Contact him at austinstirlingg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg

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