Monday, June 24, 2013
Gator Breakdown: Gideon Ajagbe
By Michael DiRocco
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
The Gators hope that Gideon Ajagbe has progressed enough to give Hunter Joyer some relief at fullback.
Expectations for 2013: Ajagbe was a linebacker until the spring, and then coach Will Muschamp moved Ajagbe and safety Rhaheim Ledbetter to offense to provide depth behind starting fullback Hunter Joyer. Ajagbe (6-foot-3, 243 pounds) is bigger than Joyer (5-10, 235), but Joyer is a better blocker and has more experience carrying the ball. Ajagbe’s job is to ease the physical burden on Joyer, who has been the only scholarship fullback on the roster the past two seasons.
Best-case scenario in 2013: Joyer is a vital part of the offense, so an injury would be devastating without any options behind him. Muschamp said he feared Joyer would get hurt because of being overworked, so Ajagbe should get some significant playing time. Look for that to come earlier in games in the first part of the season so Joyer can be fresher for the fourth quarter when the Gators might need to control the clock to secure a victory. If Ajagbe continues to adjust to the position change as well as he did in the spring, he could decrease Joyer’s workload by 20-30 percent. He also could find himself with a few short-yardage carries, too.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: Ajagbe’s transition is more than just learning the fundamentals of blocking. He’s got to learn the entire offense, too. If he’s unable to pick that up quickly enough, his playing time will be limited early in the season. If the goal is to keep Joyer from the kind of pounding he took last season, Ajagbe getting on the field a lot in the first part of the season is important.
Future impact: Ajagbe and Joyer have two seasons remaining, and the coaching staff hopes Ajagbe makes the transition well enough so he and Joyer can share the workload in 2013 and 2014. It won’t be an equitable split because Joyer is clearly UF’s top fullback and has NFL potential, but a 65-35 or 60-40 split is reasonable.