GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s most recent additions to its 2012 recruiting class -- defensive tackles Visesio Salt and Damien Jacobs -- are junior college transfers who are expected to play early.
Salt committed to Florida on Dec. 18, while Jacobs signed his letter of intent with the Gators last Wednesday and will participate in spring practices.
This begs the question, though: Is Florida taking a risk by signing two players who will only be in the program for two seasons?
If history is any indication, Florida has been hit or miss with juco success, but the Gators have not had any success with juco defensive tackles in recent history.
In the last 10 years, the Gators have signed 14 junior college transfers. Of those 14, only Reggie Nelson, Reynaldo Hill, Jeremy Mincey, Anthony Guerrero, Tavares Washington and Carl Moore saw significant playing time for Florida.
Nelson and Mincey are still playing in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, and Reynaldo Hill played four seasons with the Tennessee Titans but is no longer in the NFL.
Though the success has been mixed, the defensive tackle position in the last 10 years has been a flat out bust with juco transfers.
The three defensive tackles Florida signed during that period -- Edwin Herbert (0 tackles), Troy Epps (2 tackles) and Eric Holcombe (19 tackles) -- combined for a whopping 21 tackles and no sacks in their combined six seasons with the Gators.
Jucos aren’t necessarily a recipe for disaster, however.
Nick Fairley at Auburn, Terrence Cody at Alabama and most recently John Jenkins at Georgia all had great success after transferring from junior college programs. Fairley (Detroit Lions) and Cody (Baltimore Ravens) are now in the NFL. Jenkins, with his size and production, is likely headed there either this year or next.
Salt and Jacobs aren’t being brought in to start or get double digit sacks, but rather to help Florida be more physical against the run and to provide depth behind Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Omar Hunter.
Salt (6-3/340) and Jacobs (6-4/304) have the size that head coach Will Muschamp wants in his defensive tackles. Florida switched to a multiple defensive scheme this year and would like to play more 3-4 defenses, especially against some of the Southeastern Conference’s better running teams.
Salt and Jacobs appear to be a good fit Muschamp’s preferred direction.