For much of Dan Mullen’s tenure at Florida, the construction of the defensive line position was frequently a point of discussion, as the Gators would typically address depth issues through the transfer portal rather than on the recruiting trail. Last season was no different, with the addition of three defensive linemen during the offseason through the transfer portal: Antonio Valentino, Daquan Newkirk and Tyrone Truesdell. All three players have since departed Gainesville (despite Truesdell counting against Florida’s 2022 class) along with a pair of Gators who started and finished their careers in Gainesville in Zachary Carter and Jeremiah Moon. Carter is now in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, while Moon signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

The departure of experienced playmakers combined with Florida’s current roster situation has left the Gators with little experience to work with, meaning UF now turns to a multitude of unproven players along the defensive line heading in Billy Napier’s first season with the program. There is plenty of reason for optimism, however. Junior defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. has the most starting experience at interior defensive lineman, while Desmond Watson saw the field in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2021 as a reserve, which should set him up nicely for a larger role this season.

Jalen Lee and Jaelin Humphries, two players whose initial impact at Florida was significantly impacted by the COVID-shortened 2020 season, have been waiting in the wings while developing behind the scenes, and each should see the field this season provided they remain healthy.

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