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    Rod Johnson looks to lock down a starting position and be a leader on the offensive line in 2015. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

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Florida Gators will build
around Sharpe & Johnson

Written by Nick de la Torre, January 10, 2015, 4 Comments,
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Rebuilding.

The word sends chills down the spine of sports fans and they pull their hair out only to have grey ones take their place.

But sports are cyclical. The hot team or program for four, five or six years likely won’t stay there. Look at FSU fans who recount “the lost decade” before going on their run the past two seasons. Look at the Gators, who ripped off win after win and two championships in a three-year period. Not everyone will reach the mountaintop but everyone will spend some time down in the valley.

Coming off of a 7-5 season and with a new coach at the helm the Gators are rebuilding. The rebuilding is no more evident than along the offensive line where the team has just eight offensive linemen on scholarship and only three prospects currently committed.

“Let’s face it,” Jim McElwain said. “You guys look at our attrition on the offensive line it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure we don’t have many numbers there.”

David Sharpe, Gainesville, Florida

David Sharpe will take over at left tackle heading into his sophomore season with the Gators. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

The Gators numbers are scary thin on the line. It’s part of the reason that offensive line coach Mike Summer was retained on staff when McElwain took over. Summers did an incredible job with the offensive line last season. Summers is aware that he’s working with less than a cupboard but he is confident that the rebuilding process already has two cornerstones.

David Sharpe and Rod Johnson both played considerable time last year as freshmen — Johnson as a redshirt freshman and Sharpe as a true freshman.

“Certainly those are two key positions,” Summers said of his bookend linemen. “Rod Johnson is just an absolute pleasure to be around. A kid that you just love to put your arm around and watch him grow. He’s like a plant that you put water on and you just see him start to develop.”

Johnson’s passion on the field is evident. Max Garcia and Chaz Green have said they’ve had to tell him to tone it down at times, not to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. The passion he plays with is what makes him a special player. Johnson played every game this past season, rotating in at right tackle, earning starts against Kentucky and Alabama. He also played right guard when Florida needed him there.

Rod Johnson, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida

Rod Johnson during Gator Walk before the Gators faced off against Kentucky. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Sharpe came to Florida as a highly touted recruit from Providence School of Jacksonville. The biggest knock on him was that he was too light, needed to gain weight to play in the SEC. Sharpe showed up at Florida weighing 330 pounds and hadn’t lost a step on the field. He played in five games as a freshman and held up well in his biggest test against Alabama.

“Of course David has come in and how to be a college football player and that process is still going on,” said Summers.

So, yes, on one hand it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that the Gators need some help on the offensive line. The coaching staff is trying to address that through recruiting. There is, however, a great foundation to work with and two young, talented bookends to build around.

Nick de la Torre

About Nick de la Torre

A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC

  1. malscottJanuary 10, 2015, 11:05 am

    Good stuff, Nick…You would hope that when kids see we’re so thin at the O-line it would motivate them to come onboard. While playing time is never guaranteed, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist ( as mentioned), to figure out where the help is needed and probabilities point to early playing time. A decent group there would sure help our cause. And, yes, a measurable difference since Summers has been here. In the past, that has been one of our Achilles heels, with coaching and players alike. ROAD GRADERS NEEDED-CALL COACH SUMMERS FOR DETAILS> Go Gators.

  2. moorjd2January 12, 2015, 10:18 am

    New member here and these journalists here are awesome! You guys actually breathe life into UF recruiting because some of the other’s just quit during the weekends and here there’s always a new article. Great job Nick.

    • Nick de la Torre
      Nick de la TorreJanuary 12, 2015, 11:37 am

      Thank you! Welcome to Gator Country.

  3. wpelfrey5January 10, 2015, 4:39 pm

    And that’s why your not a football coach at any level. While the center has an important job in determining which shifts to utilize and who to pick up on certain coverages. The left tackle is your most important lineman.. if he can’t keep up with a bull rush from an excellent defender or doesn’t have mobile feet then your qb is going to eventually get hurt. The blind side could educate you on a lot of fundamentals

http://www.gatorcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/florida-gators-florida-football-the-swamp-eastern-kentucky-super-gallery-florida-gators-offensive-lineman-roderick-johnson-block-150x150.jpg Nick de la Torre FeatureFootball ,,,,,
Print Friendly

Rebuilding.

The word sends chills down the spine of sports fans and they pull their hair out only to have grey ones take their place.

But sports are cyclical. The hot team or program for four, five or six years likely won’t stay there. Look at FSU fans who recount “the lost decade” before going on their run the past two seasons. Look at the Gators, who ripped off win after win and two championships in a three-year period. Not everyone will reach the mountaintop but everyone will spend some time down in the valley.

Coming off of a 7-5 season and with a new coach at the helm the Gators are rebuilding. The rebuilding is no more evident than along the offensive line where the team has just eight offensive linemen on scholarship and only three prospects currently committed.

“Let’s face it,” Jim McElwain said. “You guys look at our attrition on the offensive line it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure we don’t have many numbers there.”

David Sharpe, Gainesville, Florida

David Sharpe will take over at left tackle heading into his sophomore season with the Gators. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

The Gators numbers are scary thin on the line. It’s part of the reason that offensive line coach Mike Summer was retained on staff when McElwain took over. Summers did an incredible job with the offensive line last season. Summers is aware that he’s working with less than a cupboard but he is confident that the rebuilding process already has two cornerstones.

David Sharpe and Rod Johnson both played considerable time last year as freshmen — Johnson as a redshirt freshman and Sharpe as a true freshman.

“Certainly those are two key positions,” Summers said of his bookend linemen. “Rod Johnson is just an absolute pleasure to be around. A kid that you just love to put your arm around and watch him grow. He’s like a plant that you put water on and you just see him start to develop.”

Johnson’s passion on the field is evident. Max Garcia and Chaz Green have said they’ve had to tell him to tone it down at times, not to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. The passion he plays with is what makes him a special player. Johnson played every game this past season, rotating in at right tackle, earning starts against Kentucky and Alabama. He also played right guard when Florida needed him there.

Rod Johnson, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida

Rod Johnson during Gator Walk before the Gators faced off against Kentucky. / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Sharpe came to Florida as a highly touted recruit from Providence School of Jacksonville. The biggest knock on him was that he was too light, needed to gain weight to play in the SEC. Sharpe showed up at Florida weighing 330 pounds and hadn’t lost a step on the field. He played in five games as a freshman and held up well in his biggest test against Alabama.

“Of course David has come in and how to be a college football player and that process is still going on,” said Summers.

So, yes, on one hand it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that the Gators need some help on the offensive line. The coaching staff is trying to address that through recruiting. There is, however, a great foundation to work with and two young, talented bookends to build around.

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