Today they found someone big enough to potentially fill those shoes when Under Armor All American DT Shavar Manuel gave his verbal pledge to the Gators.
Manuel (6-4, 300) is a former top rated defensive end who has grown, literally and figuratively, into a three technique defensive tackle.
The former strong side defensive end enrolled at IMG Academy for his senior season and played with extra weight forcing him to move inside.
While he struggled somewhat with the added weight and position change, he showed strong potential as a tackle during the Under Armor practices.
He’s very strong and athletic with a quick first step and plays with good pad level.
Once he figures out how to play with the added weight he’s expected to be a force in the interior for the Gators similar to Bullard who moved inside and excelled.
Manuel has long been considered a Gator lean always mentioning his strong relationship with Gator defensive line coach Chris Rumph.
He was rumored to announce a decision at last weekend’s Under Armor game but decided to wait until after taking official visits to Florida and Florida State, his final two schools.
On Tuesday, however, he chose to give the Gators his pledge.
He’s a huge pick up for Rumph and the Gators who are quietly putting together what could turn out to be the top defensive line class in the nation.
His commitment brings the Gators total to 26 in the 2016 class and moves them up to number six overall in the 247sports team rankings and number one in the Scout rankings.