Craig Stephens

Gators Move Easley To DT

Created on Apr. 18, 2013 12:36 PM EST

Last year, the defensive line was the strength of the Florida Gators. With Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter leaving Gainseville for the NFL, the unit has a whole new look. Dominique Easley is the lone senior on the new defensive line.

Coach Will Muschamp is moving Easley from defensive end to defensive tackle. Floyd made the same move last year and is now likely to be a top five pick in the NFL draft. Muschamp is hoping the move will be just as successful for Easley.

Easley entered Florida on top of many national recruiting boards. Easley and classmate Ronald Powell were poised to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks for years to come. Now, nearly four years later, that prediction may come true. Powell is still recovering from a torn ACL and looks to be back on the edge of the line by the middle of the season. Easley will provide pressure up the middle from the tackle position.

While both Easley and Powell have worlds of talent, they will need each other to succeed. Rarely do defensive lineman succeed in isolation. If a lineman is able to put up eye popping sack numbers it is normally because the whole unit is working well together. It will be hard for Easley to live up to his talent without Powell on the edge.

Gator fans should reserve judgment on either player until they are able to play together. Easley will look to lead the young group of linemen while taking on double teams and stuffing the run. It should be difficult for him to get to the quarterback with so many inexperienced players around him. If Powell is able to come back healthy and provide a speed rush from the end position, Easley will see running lanes and gaps in the offensive line open up in front him. With both on the field, the Gators will see the fearsome line they dreamed about years ago.  

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