Over the next 95 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 redshirt freshman Alex McCalister.
McCalister came to Florida from West Forsyth high school in Clemmons, North Carolina. He chose Florida over schools like Georgia Tech, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to name a few.
McCalister spent his first season in orange and blue wearing red. McCalister spent the season on the sidelines redshirting but earned scout team Player of the Week honors three times (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky). And impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic on and off the field.
McCalister came to Florida looking more like a lanky tight end or receiver rather than a defensive lineman. After watching him this spring, it’s evident that McCalister and Jeff Dillman have spent some time together this past year because McCalister has added considerable size to his frame. Listed at 6’5” 238-pounds, up from around 220-pounds last season, McCalister still has that long lanky build but is on his way to filling out that frame.
As a pass rusher, speed is the key to McCalister’s game. He is quick off of the line of scrimmage and uses his long arms well to keep offensive linemen from getting inside his pads. He has a very good spin and swim moves that he uses to get out on the edge and get past offensive tackles. Despite adding weight in the offseason, McCalister hasn’t lost any of that speed and he is in better shape now to hold up to the pounding he will take playing on the defensive front in the SEC week in and week out. Despite not being as big as the rest of the defensive linemen, that doesn’t stop him from playing physical. McCalister has a mean streak on the field and shows the kind of competitive drive that you have to have to be successful at this level.
Size is McCalister’s biggest weakness. He is stronger than he was as a true freshman but when an offensive lineman gets his hands on McCalister there isn’t much the defensive end can do about it. You won’t see many bull-rushes from him.
His competitiveness allows him to be serviceable against the run but until he finishes filling out his long frame, McCalister will likely be confined to passing situations as a pass-rush specialist.
What to Expect
McCalister’s work ethic has placed him in the coach’s favor. Will Muschamp and staff love a player who dedicates himself in the weight room, the classroom and on the field the way McCalister does.
He has improved a lot from the player he was when he was recruited to Florida and he will see time in the defensive line rotation this fall. Like we mentioned before, his role may be limited to obvious passing downs but McCalister can provide a nice change of pace from players like Dominique Easley and Jonathan Bullard at defensive end.
Expect McCalister to make an impact this season but this won’t be his breakout year. McCalister is still a work in progress but he has a bright future ahead of him at the University of Florida.