Over the next six 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 have a two-pack of players to bring you, with the second being sophomore BUCK linebacker Dante Fowler Jr.
Fowler grew up a fan of the Florida State Seminoles and was committed to play football for them for more than a year before flipping his commitment on National Signing Day in 2012.
Fowler was a defensive end in high school but moved to Florida’s hybrid linebacker/defensive end BUCK position as a freshman. Ronald Powell’s ACL injury opened the door for Fowler to earn playing time and he didn’t disappoint.
As a freshman, Fowler finished third on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss and sixth with 2.5 sacks.
Fowler’s biggest asset is his speed. His quick burst off of the line, combined with his athleticism and speed allows him to quickly get around tackles before they can kick back and set the edge.
Fowler came to Florida at about 280-pounds but has shed some weight in the offseason and will play around 260 this season. Most of the weight Fowler lost was bad weight and he actually looks bigger even though he’s almost 20 pounds lighter.
Fowler is an active pass rusher and a solid tackler.
Fowler needs to continue to progress as a run stopper. He is much more adept at rushing the passer than he is at stopping the run. He needs to continue to develop this aspect of his game to become a more well-rounded player.
As a pass rusher, Fowler needs to work on his hand placement and working his hands against offensive linemen more. He relies on speed rush techniques but he could stand to add some more hand work and additional pass rushing moves to his arsenal because the more he plays, the more tape opponents have to study on him.
What to Expect
Fowler is set to start at the BUCK this season for Florida. He along with Ronald Powell, Jon Bullard and Dominique Easley make up a dangerous pass rush for the Gators.
Fowler looks to be even better than the player we saw last season and he could be the first player to record double digit sacks in Orange in Blue since Derrick Harvey in 2006.