May 19, 2024

Florida Football: Three Unsung Heroes Vital for Success in 2024

While the spotlight often shines on star players, success for Florida Football in 2024 will rely on the contributions of every team member. Ensuring that all eleven players on the field perform at their best is crucial, as weak links can undermine the team’s efforts.

While names like Tre Wilson and Shemar James are expected to lead the charge for the Gators in 2024, there are three lesser-known players whose roles will be equally vital this season.

Jake Slaughter, Florida, Offensive Line

  1. Jake Slaughter: The offensive line was a significant issue for Florida in 2023, hampering quarterback Graham Mertz’s ability to go deep. While much discussion about the 2024 offensive line has focused on Damieon George’s move to guard and the potential for transfers Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson or Devon Manuel to take over at tackle, the improved performance of center Jake Slaughter towards the end of last season could be pivotal if it carries over into 2024. Despite being behind Kingsley Eguakun when Eguakun was healthy last season, Slaughter is ranked as the 8th best returning interior offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus. His performance could be crucial in solidifying the offensive line this season.
  2. Justus Boone: One of the most significant setbacks for the Gators in 2023 occurred before the season even began, with defensive end Justus Boone suffering a torn ACL, causing him to miss the entire season. Boone, a mid to low four-star recruit from the class of 2021, showed promise during the 2022 season, averaging 21 snaps per game and earning praise for his performance. His absence in 2023 was felt, as he was expected to have a breakout season. If Boone can recover fully from his injury and replicate his 2022 form, he could become a standout player on the defensive line.
  3. Sharif Denson: Sharif Denson arrived at Florida as a true freshman last season with modest expectations. Despite being relatively under the radar, Denson showed glimpses of his potential, particularly towards the end of the season when he impressed in limited playing time against FSU. With Jaydon Hill departing for Texas A&M, Denson is expected to step up into a more prominent role, possibly taking on the STAR position. Despite his smaller stature, Denson’s skills in coverage and play recognition make him a valuable asset to the defense.

Sharif Denson - Football - Florida Gators

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