Previously I released an offensive breakdown on the early signees, now I’m coming back with the defensive breakdown. I wanted to wait for some players to be officials so I can discuss them all at once. Looking at the current defensive signees, here are three key players who I believe could have successful careers as a Florida Gator.
Tyron Hopper- 4 Star OLB, 6’2 205 pounds, Roswell High School
The Roswell prospect committed to the Gators during the early stages of this years recruiting cycle back in April. Hopper was one Mullens first new recruits to pop during a period where Florida looked pretty shaky on the trail. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson was one of Hopper’s primary recruiters during this cycle and he did an excellent job on keying in on the talented prospect early. Hopper is an early enroll and looks to compete for playing time during the spring football sessions.
Strengths: Two key physical features stick out for Hopper, he’s long and lean for a linebacker. During his high school career, he played a mix of corner and linebacker. For Florida, he looks to play linebacker and he’s an exciting prospect to watch. Hopper is a very physical linebacker that can run side line to side line due to his speed. Hopper also shows great coverage skills due to his defensive back instincts. Mullen wants his linebackers to be fast and physical to match the speed of the elusive players in the SEC. If Hopper adds the weight to fill his already big frame, he has the potential to be very good linebacker in years to come.
Player Comparison: Malik Jefferson
Chris Steele – 4 Star CB, 6’1.5 187 pounds, St. John Bosco High School
The Gators have been itching for a big commit for some years now, and Mullen finally brought one in his second recruiting class. The Bellflower, CA native was high on the Gators during the summer after Mullen and the staff tried their recruiting pitches in California. At the time Steele seemed to be a Gator lean. However, the hometown USC Trojans made a surge for the talented prospect and he chose them back in July. With a change in staff and Chris wanting to truly make a decision best for himself he decided to decommit during October. The Gators seemed to be the assured destination, but his primary recruiter/ safeties coach Ron English definitely had to make sure this time Steele wouldn’t go elsewhere. In the end Steele wanted to follow his heart and be home which is “DBU”. During his final season, he received First Team All-American by USA Today and MaxPreps. even though Steele committed yesterday he has already signed his LOI and will be on campus for spring ball. It should be fun to watch him compete for time on the field.
Strengths: Steele has all the tools to be a future NFL first-round DB selection. At 6’1, 187 pounds Steele shows his physicality at the line of scrimmage during press coverage. He shows great instincts in zone coverage and has shown to be a serious threat in the run game with his ability to layout running backs and receivers. Most importantly Steele flexes his versatility to be dominant at the safety position due to his highly graded football IQ and the ability to put on weight to his already good size.
Player Comparison: Marlon Humphrey
Mohamoud Diabate- 4 star OLB, 6’3.5 215 pounds, Auburn High School
Coming into this season Mullen knew he needed to add edge rushing depth due to the departure of senior DE CeCe Jefferson, and the possible break out season with DE Jachai Polite declaring for the draft. The defensive staff made their way up to Auburn, AL and snatched Diabate out the Tigers backyard. At one point it seemed to be Auburn, LSU battle but the Gators made Diabate a true priority and it was easy sailing since after his August commitment.
Strength: At 6’3.5, 215 pounds, Diabate played a mix of outside linebacker and DE during his high school career. However, the staff wants Diabate to be more of a hybrid edge linebacker. One thing that pops out while watching Diabate’s tape is his quick first step. He makes opposing offensive tackles look foolish at times when getting to the opposing QB due to his speed. Diabate has the ability to show his power in stuffing outside runs as well. Diabate doesn’t have the prototypical size as an edge rusher, but his long arms and huge hands size make up for it.
Player Comparison: Tremaine Edmunds