Over the next 90 days, GatorCountry 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 defensive end Jonathan Bullard.
Bullard was ranked by most recruiting sites as the No. 1 defensive end prospect in the 2012 recruiting class and the No.2 overall player in the state of North Carolina (behind fellow Gator D.J. Humphries). Bullard chose to attend Florida over schools like Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Clemson, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and North Carolina.
Bullard ran into some trouble last summer when it was unclear if he was going to be cleared academically and allowed to enroll at Florida. Bullard was not cleared in time to enroll with the rest of the recruiting class during the Summer B session but made it to campus for the fall semester.
Despite not making it to campus with the rest of his signing class, Bullard made his presence felt in a big way as a freshman.
Bullard finished his freshman campaign with 27 tackles (including a season high seven against Vanderbilt), 5.0 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1.0-pass breakups and 7.0 quarterback hurries. He played in all 13 games as a freshman and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Bullard is a strong player who has great speed for his massive size. Bullard has a good motor and is a solid tackler. He plays equally as well against the run as he does against the pass. He has a good first move off of the line of scrimmage and is a player who uses his hands well to keep offensive linemen from getting a hold on him.
Bullard’s only weakness is that he can get sloppy with his technique at times. It’s not often but, hey, we needed to find something to put here.
What to Expect
Bullard added size to his already massive frame this offseason and he now is listed at 6’3”, 271-pounds. He has the size to eventually move inside but will predominately play defensive end for the Gators this season. Bullard can also play the 5-technique (the position Sharrif Floyd played in Florida’s 3-4 schemes) which will allow the Gators to have Bullard, Dominique Easley, Dante Fowler and Ronald Powell all line up on the defensive front.
Bullard is going to start at defensive end and will have a very productive season for the Gators.
When it is all said and done, I fully expect Bullard to be named to an All-SEC team and he has the potential to be a very special player at the University of Florida.