Over the next 14 days, GatorCountry will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season. Can you believe that the season is just two weeks away?
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 defensive back Jaylen Watkins.
Watkins was a member of the vaunted recruiting class of 2010 from Cape Coral High School and chose Florida over offers from Alabama, Boston College, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee.
Watkins was mainly used as a gunner on special teams his freshman season. He finished the year with eight tackles but would find a bigger role on the team as a sophomore. His second season on campus saw Watkins play in all 13 games, including eight starts. Watkins started the final six games of the season at cornerback.
Watkins followed that performance up with a solid junior campaign. He once again played in all 13 games – including 11 starts – and recorded the first interception of his career while hauling in three on the season, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Watkins has been playing all over the secondary this fall camp and his versatility will give Florida a lot of options on defense in 2013. Watkins has been sidelined with a foot injury but he is expected to be healthy for the start of the season and should have a solid senior season.
Watkins is a tall, lanky cornerback who is surprisingly strong. Watkins plays very well in man and bump-and-run coverages. He has quick feet and good hips that allow him to turn and run with receivers, mirroring their routes. He also has exceptional closing speed and can make up a lot of ground quickly.
Watkins was a two-way player in high school and has good ball skills.
Watkins isn’t the most physical tackler in the secondary. He often lunges or dives at the ball carrier rather than breaking down and wrapping him up.
What to Expect
Watkins will play all over the secondary. Expect him to play cornerback, as well as safety in nickel and dime packages. He’s one of the most experienced veterans in the secondary and provides the younger players back there with a good example of how to work on and off the field.