Over the next two days, Gator Country will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season.
Each day we will count down using the player whose jersey number corresponds with how many days there are left until Florida kicks off against Toledo in The Swamp on August 31.
Today we take a look at senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley.
Dominique Easley came to Florida all the way from Curtis High School in Staten Island, New York. He chose Florida over schools like Boston College, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, Rutgers, Tennessee and UCLA.
Easley’s career started off rocky in Gainesville. Upset with his role on the team and feeling homesick, Easley reportedly skipped practice and contemplated transferring at one point. Easley decided to stick it out and moved into a starting role under Will Muschamp in his sophomore season. He started all 12 regular season games at defensive tackle before tearing his ACL against Florida State, missing the bowl game.
Easley returned as a junior in 2012 and started 11 games at defensive end — missing two with injury. He led the team with four sacks and decided to return to Florida for his senior season. Easley credits his mother as the main reason he chose to return, saying that she wanted to see him graduate and earn a degree, something he will do this spring.
He’s worn a tractor chain onto the field, carries a Chucky Doll everywhere with him, admitted that he doesn’t watch football and didn’t know who Bear Bryant was when he was asked at SEC Media Days. He’s Florida’s most interesting player and he might be one of their best as well.
Easley is unbelievably quick off the ball for a player of his size. His first step is unrivaled and allows him to get his hands on offensive linemen before they even get out of their stance. Easley is a terror against both the run and the pass equally. His size allows him to take on double teams and fill gaps.
At times, Easley can let his emotions get the best of him. In a game where he sat out last season against Vanderbilt, he had to have coaches separate him from Commodore players. He almost fought the entire Florida State football team in 2012. Easley also is one of the most penalized defensive linemen. He’s so quick off the line but sometimes too quick and consequently, jumps over the line a little too early.
What to Expect
Easley is sliding back down inside to defensive tackle — his more natural position. Easley said that he returned to Florida because his mom wanted him to earn his degree but he would also benefit from playing a full season without injury. After tearing his ACL against FSU in 2011, Easley missed two games last season and was never 100% healthy.
He’s poised for a big senior season as he steps into his role as a team leader.