- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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If the Gators are going to have a successful season in Jim McElwain's first year, they'll need a more than a few less-notable guys to step up. Maybe this one can provide some much-needed quality depth at linebacker.
Sleeper: Alex Anzalone, LB, Jr.
Why: The Gators spent the spring watching just four healthy scholarship linebackers run around. Anzalone, who has had his own injuries issues in the past, was one of them. The junior has played in 22 career games, but he's mostly made an impact on special teams and only has 16 career tackles. Anzalone was a top recruit in the 2013 class, but has spent his entire career as a reserve for the Gators.
Now, he has a chance to make a real impact for Florida on defense this year. For one, he actually went through spring, unlike projected starters Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis. That was big because Morrison's health is still in question for the fall after he tore his ACL in the Gators' bowl game. If Morrison can't go, Anzalone has a good chance of taking his spot at middle linebacker. What will also help Anzalone out is the fact that he cross-trained at all the linebacker positions this spring and really impressed his new defensive coordinator in Geoff Collins. His ability to move around the defense will help him see more time if Morrision returns.
Anzalone moved well this spring and showed some solid athleticism. At 6-foot-3, 234 pounds, Anzaolne has good size and strength and matches it with pretty good speed that could really help him play in the middle of the field. With Morrison out this spring, Anzalone ran with the first-team defense and made the defensive calls. He also showcased very good leadership skills, which helped him earn a lot of respect from his teammates and new coaches.
At 6-3, 234 pounds, Alex Alex Anzalone has good size and strength and matches it with good speed that could help him play in the middle of the field.