Over the next three 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 sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison.
Morrison was a highly rated linebacker from Bolingbrook High School in Illinois. He chose Florida over other offers from schools like Alabama, Illinois, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon and Tennessee among others. Morrison enrolled early in January of 2012 and instantly made an impression on the coaching staff with his physical play and work ethic on the field.
Morrison was thrust into action early on during his freshman season due to an injury to starting Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins but he performed well playing in all 13 games, including three starts.
Morrison moved from the weakside to middle linebacker this offseason and once again earned rave reviews. He will miss the season opener against Toledo but will return to the middle of the defense in week two against Miami.
Morrison is an old school, hit-you-in-the-mouth type of football player. He fits perfectly into the mold of what Will Muschamp is looking for at Mike linebacker and looks like a natural at his new position.
Morrison is a tough run stopper who fills the gaps and delivers a boom when he makes contact — just ask E.J. Manuel the kind of power that he hits with. Morrison has great instincts as a football player and he recognizes run vs. pass quickly.
Morrison isn’t the fastest player on the defense but he has sneaky speed and can cover ground very well from sideline to sideline.
Morrison’s biggest weakness is his pass-coverage skills. He struggles in man coverage and sometimes gets out of position when playing in zone. Morrison covers underneath routes well but struggles when he’s responsible for a deeper zone or when matched up 1-one-1 with running backs and tight ends.
What to Expect
Morrison will miss the first game but expect him to be in the middle of the defense for the rest of the season. Morrison’s hard-nosed mentality will become the face of Muschamp’s defense and he has a bright future at Florida. Morrison has All-SEC/All-American potential and Gator fans will have a lot of fun watching him play his brand of football.