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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Gator Breakdown: Leon Orr

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.

No. 44 Leon Orr

Redshirt junior defensive tackle

Expectations for 2013: Florida needs a wide body to take over for Omar Hunter as a run-stuffing nose tackle, and the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Orr is competing with 6-3, 286-pound Damien Jacobs for the starting job. Even if he doesn’t beat out Jacobs, Orr is going to get a lot of work because the Gators regularly rotate their tackles to keep them fresh. Orr, who had 15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack last season, is in the best shape of his career and is finally ready to step into a key role.

Best-case scenario in 2013: Florida is thin on experience on the defensive line. After Orr and Jacobs at nose tackle and Dominique Easley at defensive tackle, the Gators don’t have a defensive tackle that has played in an FBS football game. Darious Cummings is a junior college transfer and Joey Ivie, Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and Antonio Riles are incoming freshmen. That means Orr, Jacobs and Easley have to have career years to allow the younger defensive linemen to develop and ease into the rotation. The wildcard is Cummings, who enrolled in January and was one of the surprises of the spring. If he continues to play well, it will help tremendously.

Worst-case scenario in 2013: If the younger players don’t develop, that puts a lot of pressure on the veterans. Orr hasn’t been in that kind of position before, so there’s a question of whether he can be a guy in which the team can rely on. Orr has to occupy blockers and not give any ground to keep middle linebacker Antonio Morrison free to make plays and provide some kind of pass rush up the middle.

Future impact: Jacobs graduates after 2013 so Orr should step into the starting job if he doesn’t win it this season. His biggest impact, however, may be mentoring the younger defensive linemen in 2013. It’s a group that will have to contribute in order for the defense to be successful against the run.