By Alex Gray
GatorCountry.com continues its series previewing the players who will make up the 2012 Florida Gators football team.
Each day, we’ll count off another scholarship player until the Florida football season officially begins Sept. 1 against Bowling Green in The Swamp.
Today, with only one day remaining until kickoff, we take a look at senior linebacker Jon Bostic.
In 2009, Jon Bostic was ranked as the nation’s fourth-best inside linebacker prospect by Rivals.com and eighth-best outside linebacker prospect by ESPN. Bostic was also regarded as the 64th best prospect overall according to Rivals after a senior season at Wellington (Fla.) Palm Beach Central High School in which he amassed 55 tackles, including four forced fumbles, and 468 rushing yards with six touchdowns. Bostic also completed four of four passing attempts for 130 yards and three touchdowns, all coming off the heels of a junior season at Central where Bostic had over 100 tackles and lined up at cornerback, safety, running back, tight end, linebacker, and defensive end. Bostic selected Florida over Clemson, Auburn, Miami, LSU, and FSU at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and headed to Gainesville just days later to begin his UF career.
Bostic arrived at Florida ready to be groomed as the Gators’ next great middle linebacker and spent the 2009 season as an understudy to senior all-American Brandon Spikes. Playing on a loaded defense in which the entire two-deep returned from a national championship run the year before, Bostic saw limited time for the Gators in ’09, but did manage to collect 18 tackles, including 14 solo stops. The following season, Bostic split time at middle linebacker with fellow 2009 recruit Jelani Jenkins and appeared in all 13 games for the Gators while starting in six of them. Bostic finished the 2010 season tied for third on the team with 57 tackles, 36 of which being solo, and 21 assists. Bostic also notched 3 interceptions on the year which was the eighth best nationally amongst linebackers.
After a solid 2010 season, Bostic entered 2011 with much hype and was included on several pre-season All-SEC teams and award watch lists. After starting all 13 games at middle linebacker, Bostic lead the team in tackles with 94, including 10 for loss along with three sacks and a pass breakup. To date, Bostic has started in 19 games and leads all current Gators with 169 total tackles including 12.5 for loss, along with 4.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Bostic has become an unquestioned leader on a talented Florida defense that features only four seniors on the two-deep. In his three previous seasons, Bostic has shown a nose for the football and an ability to make big plays when the Gators need them. He possesses above average speed for a middle linebacker which could probably be attributed to his experience as a defensive back in high school. His time in the defensive backfield has carried over to college as Bostic has done very well in pass coverage for the Gators which is evidenced by his three career interceptions and multiple pass breakups. Even in tough Gator losses last season, Bostic showed up huge against big-time opponents including LSU in which he tallied 13 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. At 6-1 and nearly 250 pounds, Bostic should definitely have an increased physical presence this season after a spring and summer with new Gators Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Dillman, and should be able make plays against teams such as South Carolina and LSU, both of which will feature strong rushing attacks.
What to Expect
Coaches in the SEC obviously have a high opinion of Bostic as evidenced by his selection to the second-team defense on the pre-season All-SEC team.
With an offense that is still maturing, the Gators’ defensive unit will be relied on to keep teams out of the end zone, especially in the early-going of the season when the Gators will face back to back road tests in hostile environments. Bostic will be leaned on heavily to shore up a defense that finished 40th in the nation in rushing yards allowed last season. Bostic will have the luxury of a beefed-up interior defensive line that should keep blockers off, thus giving him the ability to make tackles.
As the center of a talented defense, Bostic will be able to garner quite a bit of accolades at season’s end. In his fourth year of playing solely linebacker, Bostic is now finally showing the upside that many projected when he came out of high school. With a great season, Bostic could very well find himself taken in the early rounds of next April’s NFL Draft.
Bostic’s not messin’ around: