Could sophomore Jachai Polite be the next great Florida Gators defensive tackle?
Yes. That’s it. Thanks for reading!
No, but seriously, he could.
The sophomore defensive tackle from Daytona Beach, Fla. came to the University of Florida has an unheralded, or rather under-reported on, recruit. A three-star out of Mainland High School, Polite committed in November of his senior year over schools like Southern California, Missouri, and Georgia Tech. He was expected to potentially contribute in a few years, but not earlier. He was expected to be a quicker than normal defensive tackle, but certainly not someone who would set-up camp in the opponent’s backfield…more frequently than anyone else on the Florida Gators roster.
As a freshman, Polite played 12 games and contributed just 1.4% of all defensive tackles – 8.5. But it was where those tackles came: two sacks (nine yards) and 3.5 tackles for loss (12 yards). Meaning that 23.5% of the time that Polite made a tackle it was a sack and 41.1% of the time it was a tackle for loss – the highest on the team in both categories. (He also had a forced fumble.)
Now, it is not safe to assume those numbers would continue on the same trend over the course of more snaps across the season, but his name preceded this past season on the camp circuit and maybe it should be expected.
Marcus Tatum, a top-ranked tackle prospect from the class of 2016, told SEC Country last May, “I never faced anybody better than him (Polite). When I go against Jachai, it’s a different story. He’s got better moves than Byron (Cowart), better pad level, better speed, everything. In that same camp, things just clicked for (Jachai) and he was dominating.”
What you will notice on game film is that Polite is not only just a versatile player (caught a pass on a two-point conversion attempt); he is athletic (can play defensive end or defensive tackle), plays smart, and a hustler (ran with Jalen Hurts during the SEC Championship).
Looking back to his time in high school, Polite had an incredible quickness off the line that is evident in an Orlando Regional Event for “The Opening.”
Here faces off against four-star offensive lineman Calvin Ashley and scoots right around the edge and beats him three plays in a row. Something you are likely to see a lot more of as Polite continues to grow and improve.
In Polite, you see speed, agility, good pad-level, and great decision making. There is a reason why Jim McElwain, Randy Shannon, and Chris Rumph have raved about him and on paper (and limited film) Jachai Polite could be the next great Florida Gators defensive lineman.