UF Football Preview: Defensive linemen

As the season opener vs. Bowling Green approaches, GatorCountry.com is breaking down 2012 Florida Gators football team, position-by-position.

This will be an eight-part series as we’ll breakdown running backs, receivers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and special teams in an effort to help fans have a quick guide for what to expect come 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, when the Gators kickoff the 2012 season vs. Bowling Green in The Swamp.

In case you missed it, we previewed running backs, receivers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen and linebackers already. Having recently taken a look at the offensive men down in the trenches, now it’s on to the beastly boys along the defensive line.

Up next: Defensive backs.

Following months of preparation, of drawing up plays and charts, keeping stats and going over film, the Florida Gators coaching staff is presumably more stressed than Simon Cowell listening to the first round of American Idol contestants.

Junior Dominique Easley, the uber-talented defensive end primed for a huge season in Gainesville, knows a thing or two about showbiz himself.

Rather, he knows a thing or two about staying relaxed on the sidelines. Whether or not his dance moves would earn him some phone-in votes on So You Think You Can Dance is an entirely different story.

If there were a few folks out there that would be guaranteed to break out those cell phones and vote for the tenacious defensive end, it would be fellow linemen Sharrif Floyd and Ronald Powell. Granted, Powell is technically both a linebacker and injured at the moment. When he returns he will be lined up as the Buck linebacker, meaning he will be splitting time between linebacker and defensive end.

The moral of the story: Floyd, Powell, and Easley all chose to sign at Florida together, prompting them to take on the “Big 3” moniker, usually reserved for the Miami Heat trio of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, for themselves. A bold move, of course, but these guys have been ready for the spotlight for years.

Sharrif Floyd was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in 2010 and tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries in 2011 with four. The Gators are currently ranked the No. 23-program in the country. Even if they were totally unranked, Floyd would still be making big plays.

He is not much of a dancer, but whatever he does, it works. While the rest of the team was struggling, to say the least, against then No. 1-rated LSU, Floyd was busy collecting a career-high 11 tackles.

If reality TV is nothing but a competition, these D-linemen have been competing amongst themselves as well.

Lost in this conversation thus far is the team’s elder statesman, fifth-year senior Omar Hunter. Hunter was a five-star recruit and Under Armour All-American before everyone and their mother was tweeting about doing laundry. Since his high school days, Hunter has seen action in a whopping 43 total games, including 18 starts. He was named a freshman All-American Second Teamer back in 2008, and now, in 2K12, Hunter is looking forward clogging up the middle of the field and forcing opposing running backs into the capable hands of Easley and Floyd.

The Gators coaching staff, along with all the Gator Nation, are hoping those running backs in question are going to be a lot like Simon Cowell: annoyed, and with nowhere to escape the music.