GatorNation video position preview: LB

ESPN’s GatorNation is previewing each position leading up to the start of the season with a short video. Each Friday until the season kicks off, Michael DiRocco and Jeff Barlis will analyze a position group, tell you who is starting and why, and provide a breakdown of the depth at the position. This week it’s linebackers.

The starters: SLB Michael Taylor (RSo.) OR Antonio Morrison (Fr.), MLB Jonathan Bostic (Sr.), WLB Jelani Jenkins (RJr.)

The backups: Lerentee McCray (RSr.), Darrin Kitchens (Jr.), Neiron Ball (RSo.), Jeremi Powell (Fr.), Gideon Ajagbe (RSo.), Kedric Johnson (RJr.), Alex McCalister (Fr.), Bryan Cox, Jr. (Fr.)

Comment: Bostic and Jenkins are stalwarts who are tackling machines. UF coach Will Muschamp, however, challenged them in the spring to start making more big plays. That’s directly related to Jenkins dropping six interceptions last season. Taylor is a versatile player who can play all three spots and Morrison was an early enrollee who drew praise for his physical play. If or when DE/LB Ronald Powell returns from his ACL tear this season, McCray will move back to strongside linebacker.

Young guy to watch: Morrison can single-handedly give the Gators depth because he's learning all three linebacker positions. He has the size, range, instincts and tackling ability to push for playing time despite the veteran corps of linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart. Ironically enough, an indicator of Morrison's tantalizing potential was displayed on the play in which Powell tore his ACL during Florida's spring game. Morrison made a beeline for the ball-carrier, sprinted right past Powell and registered the tackle for a loss. If he can do that consistently, he'll play.