Moon answering the call at middle linebacker

Jeremiah Moon has done a little bit of everything in his six seasons as a Gator.

He started his career as a traditional outside linebacker. He moved to BUCK, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position, when head coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham arrived prior to the 2018 season. He’s even played nickelback in certain situations.

He started the first two games of this season at inside linebacker alongside Ventrell Miller.

Through it all, Moon has managed to put together a solid career when healthy. He’s totaled 118 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks and four passes defended.

Still, with Miller out for an extended period of time with a torn bicep, Moon faced possibly the biggest challenge of his career last Saturday – starting at middle linebacker against No. 1 Alabama.

He stepped up when the Gators needed him and turned in a strong performance against the Tide, making five tackles, breaking up a pass and registering a quarterback hurry. For the season, Moon is tied for second on the team with 16 tackles. He’s recorded one sack and is tied for second on the Gators with two quarterback hurries.

He’s expected to start at middle linebacker again this week against Tennessee.

“First off, you can’t replace a Ventrell Miller,” Moon said. “His leadership, the way he handles himself, he is the ultimate leader for this team. Two, I’m just learning so much from Ventrell as far as being vocal and just the way he plays the game. I’m just thankful for Ventrell.

“I’m just trying to find a way to get better every week. I know it’s been a long road. I’m happy things are starting to pay off. Every week, I’m trying to find something else to get better at.”

Although he missed spring practices after undergoing a foot surgery, Moon said that the spring was a key time for him. He was able to focus entirely on learning the mental part of playing inside linebacker.

“It’s been a big transition,” he said. “I didn’t really know what was going to come with it. I just knew that I needed to step in and fill a role. I just took it day by day. In the spring, I was out, so I sat in the inside linebackers room. Knowing that I knew everything about the outside linebacker position, I sat in with Coach [Christian Robinson], just met with him throughout the spring, offseason and just tried to progress through the basics of inside linebacker because I hadn’t done it in a while.”

It’s a good thing he did. He isn’t just an inside linebacker anymore. He’s the inside linebacker, the player who’s responsible for making the defensive calls and providing leadership to the entire defense.

But just because he’s starting at middle linebacker doesn’t mean that Grantham won’t still have some fun by moving him around in passing situations.

Grantham has high praise for his new middle linebacker.

“I think the world of Jeremiah Moon, his preparation and what he does,” Grantham said. “He has a lot of versatility. He can play off the ball. He can play at the end of the line. He can give you pass rush, and he can cover. We’re going to find ways to utilize a player like that.”

After years of wandering around Florida’s defense, Moon has found a home in the middle.

Ethan was born in Gainesville and has lived in the Starke, Florida, area his entire life. He played basketball for five years and knew he wanted to be a sportswriter when he was in middle school. He’s attended countless Gators athletic events since his early childhood, with baseball being his favorite sport to attend. He’s a proud 2019 graduate of the University of Florida and a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe College. He interned with the University Athletic Association’s communications department for 1 ½ years as a student and has spent the last two football seasons writing for InsideTheGators.com. He is a long-suffering fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can follow him on Twitter @ehughes97.