For the next few months, GatorCountry.com will be previewing the players that will make up the 2012 Florida football team as we lead up to the season.
Each day, we’ll count off a scholarship player until the season officially arrives on Sept. 1 with a home date against Bowling Green.
Today, we take a look at true freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker.
Dunker arrived at Florida in January as a highly regarded prospect on the offensive line, despite playing only two years of high school football. He starred at Boynton Beach, where he quickly caught the eye of college recruiters.
ESPN rated him as one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the country, though overall his ratings slipped a little during his senior season in high school over concerns about his technique.
Still, Dunker played in the Under Armour All-American game and played very well at offensive guard, where he is projected to play at Florida.
He participated in all of Florida’s spring practice, staying healthy and earning a lot of repetitions with the second-team offensive line.
As somewhat of a raw prospect coming in, the major questions surrounding Dunker are how quickly he’ll pick up some of the more technical aspects of playing offensive line in college. He played mostly guard in the spring, and seemed to pick things up quickly.
Dunker was beaten routinely in the first two open practices of the spring we saw, but it was rarely by getting overpowered or out-leveraged in a one-on-one battle. His biggest issue was simply handling quick moves, with his lateral speed a big question mark.
From a size standpoint, Dunker certainly looks ready to contribute in a hurry. At 6 foot 4, 313 pounds, he’s certainly big enough to play in the SEC, and he looked to have good strength for a true freshman.
The biggest thing he needs to work on is his footwork, so he can put his big body in front of blockers. Once he gets that down, he should be ready to play.
What to Expect
Based on what we saw this spring, it’s probably only a year or two until Dunker is a starter on the offensive line. He’s an extremely powerful player for a true freshman, only needing a little refinement.
As experienced as Florida’s offensive line is this year, the Gators will likely try to get Dunker as many snaps as they can when games aren’t in question to get him ready for a much bigger role next season.
It would not be surprising at all to see Dunker crack the two-deep on the depth chart this season. He looked very good in the Under Armour All-American game and the spring game, and he will only get better with an offseason of strength and conditioning work.