For the Gator Nation, the last few years has been rough. The team has only been to one major bowl game since the 2009-10 season, Tim Tebow’s last. While going through a number of quarterbacks, coaches, and athletic directors, the team has always been able to count on one thing- defense. In this year’s NFL Draft, seven of the eight Gators selected were defensive players. Clearly, defense is Florida’s specialty- specifically, defensive backs.
Six Gator defensive backs have been selected in the past two years, including Keanu Neal and Brian Poole who started alongside each other at safety for the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. This strikes up an ongoing hot topic of which school has the best DB’s. Ask a Hurricane, a Tiger, and a Nole and you’ll get three different answers.
But the Gators continue to make their case for DBU (defensive back university). After losing their two top cover corners to the Draft, the team reloaded this year by signing five defensive backs who will be impact players from day 1.
The most coveted on the list is Columbus’ own Chris Henderson Jr., an electrifying two-way player with a blazing 4.3 40-yard dash time. Florida also signed Marco Wilson from American Heritage, who’s brother, Quincy, was selected in the second round. Miramar’s Brian Edwards and Southridge’s Shawn Davis round out the list of South Florida DB’s joining the Florida Gator DB legacy. Florida also signed the #20 ranked defensive back in the country Brad Stewart from Louisiana.
As new inductees into what fans would call “DBU,” the players need a certain attitude to fit in. The best DB’s know who’s the best and why they’re the best.
“Ya’ll good, ya’ll just not great like Florida,” said Wilson on other schools claiming they’re DBU.
“We’re just [going to] come show you who’s the best at DB’s,” said Davis.
“We’re the best school, we’re on top, we’re putting guys in the league. We’re grinding, we’re a family. Any team we play, we’re going to play them hard,” said Edwards.
Apart from just the history of the defensive backs, the foursome chose Florida for the history of winning, the direction of the program, and the academics.
“Florida… they got some good history. They’re always on top and playing well,” said Wilson.
“You can tell that, the coaches, they put a lot of time into the players, and that the players, they listen. They take everything in and the DB’s just produce all the time, it’s DBU,” said Edwards.
All four of these athletes were the best of their school, but transitioning from high school football to Division-I football is no easy task. It requires a mindset that only a select few possess. Luckily, it’s a common mindset in South Florida.
“I’m going to just hit you every time. You’re just going to have a bad game because I got Marco, CJ [Henderson], and Brian and we’re just coming hard,” said Davis. Davis, as the only safety out of the group, is known for his hard hitting. A Southridge Spartan for four years, Davis and Henderson were rivals in high school but now get the chance to play together.
When asked which rivalry they were looking forward to the most, the group collectively agreed on Florida State… it seems the next wave of DBU already has their priorities straight.
CCNN Live’s Victor Prieto contributed to this report.