The sophomore spotlight moves back to defense today and to a player that many wouldn’t have thought would be in this position just a year ago.
Joey Ivie committed to Florida early in the 2013 recruiting cycle and stuck firm to his commitment. The Pasco product came to Florida without the fanfare of many of his classmates and appeared to be headed for a redshirt season before camp. He was listed as a “tweener”, too small to play defensive tackle, too slow to play defensive end, possibly not even a good fit for Florida or the SEC.
Ivie didn’t listen to the noise or let naysayers bother him. He impressed the coaching staff and his teammates — especially the upperclassmen — with his approach in the weight room, the classroom and on the practice field.
After the 2013 season I asked Dominique Easley which young defensive lineman impressed him the most. He thought about it for a second before answering “Joey Ivie.”
You’re kidding, I said, really?
Easley went on to talk about how Ivie started out on the scout team with, as he put it, “no chance of even getting close to coming into the game on Saturday.” But that Ivie came to practice every day and worked like he was a starter. He brought the level of intensity that Florida needed and Easley frankly said he wished more of the freshmen defensive linemen came ready like Ivie did.
I wasn’t satisfied with the answer, so I kept asking the question but getting the same answer. Jaylen Watkins, Jon Halapio, Solomon Patton, every player I asked praised Ivie for his work ethic, attitude and ability to take coaching and improve.
2013 Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo)
Ivie spent the first seven games standing on the sideline, watching. He played in three of the final five game of the season, but wasn’t a big impact player.
Ivie has bulked up to a listed 270 pounds and is one of the stronger players on the defensive line. He’s tenacious and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Ivie had a solid spring, working a lot with Brad Lawing on specific techniques.
The biggest thing Ivie needs to work on is the mental part of the game. At times, Ivie gets down when coaches get on him for making a mistake. It seems like he checks out mentally when a coach calls him out. It’s something Easley said was holding Ivie back some last season but he noted that it is common for freshmen to go through.
Will Muschamp likes to rotate his defensive line throughout the game to keep his big guys fresh. Right now, other than Dante Fowler, Leon Orr, Darious Cummings and Jon Bullard, there are only question marks on the defensive line.
Ivie can be the answer to one of those questions and he’ll continue battling Caleb Brantley, Jay-nard Bostwick and incoming freshman Thomas Holley for playing time.
The Gators are desperate for depth along the defensive line, which means if you considered Joey Ivie to be a project coming in to school, the deadline has just been moved up. Florida needs Ivie to be a reliable option in the defensive line rotation.