TAMPA – For those who have been clamoring all season to see more of stud true freshmen defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, you’ll probably get your wish in Saturday’s Outback Bowl. With senior tackles Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh out with injuries, Floyd and Easley are expected to see considerable playing time in the defensive tackle rotation against Penn State.
Floyd has already pretty much proven himself this season. He’s been physically dominant at times and figures to be the Gators’ next big-time defensive tackle. He has NFL DT written all over him, and figures to be a starter next season.
Easley is more of a mystery (some might say headcase). Early in the season, it looked like he was unhappy in Gainesville and ready to pack his bags and head back to New York. Then, Easley saw some playing time midway through the season, and he seemed fine. But he disappeared again in the last half of the season and the rumors started flying again that he was looking to get out. When Urban Meyer abruptly resigned, Easley was one of several young players who expressed disappointment, and it looked like his days at UF were numbered.
But now, according to some of his teammates, Easley is happy once again. He likes the idea of playing under new defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp, he’ll see some playing time on Saturday, and he’ll have a chance to compete for a starting spot in the spring under a new coaching staff. This Easley euphoria may not last, but for now, it looks like he’s ready to settle down and be a Gator for the next two or three years. We’ll see.
Another player who will see extensive playing time at defensive tackle is senior Brandon Antwine, whose career has been interrupted time and again by an assortment of major injuries. Meyer said Tuesday that Antwine is feeling better than he has in a long time and is ready to be a major factor on the defensive front Saturday. The UF coaches have said several times that Antwine has NFL ability and will have a chance to play at the next level if he can somehow stay healthy. Saturday’s game is a big opportunity for him to end his UF career on a high note and set himself up for a possible NFL career. It would be an amazing comeback story.