An Alligator Army Recruiting Moment: Dee Finley Chooses Florida Over Auburn

In this week’s edition of An Alligator Army Recruiting Moment, we look at a player who recently announced his intentions to leave the Florida program. With playing time scarce, linebacker Dee Finley will transfer with hopes of finding a better opportunity while continuing his career elsewhere. There was a time when Finley was one of the nation’s top high school safeties and everyone expected him to stay home and play for his original number one choice – Auburn. He would surprise many when he would pick Urban Meyer and the Gators over then Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and the Tigers.

Linebacker Dee Finley To Transfer

You’ll always lose players during a coaching transition. You rarely lose them midway through a season.

On Tuesday, the rumor mill was pumping out stories of various Florida players considering leaving the Gators for what they would hope are greener pastures. Among those names, the two most prominently featured where quarterback Tyler Murphy and linebacker Dee Finley. Well, one rumor has come true.

Finley will leave Florida in an attempt to find playing time elsewhere. The linebacker came to Gainesville as one of the nation’s top defensive back recruits. He was converted to linebacker and hoped to earn more time under defense-driven head coach Will Muschamp, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Finley wasn’t able to earn more than a few minutes here and there and an arrest early this year put a black mark on his record.

With the announcement coming now, the guess is that Finley is looking to enroll somewhere this coming Spring.

Gators Linebacker Dee Finley Arrested

Just when I sit down to start to put together a recap of the weekend in Gator sports, I read this. Sigh. Well, here we go…

Florida linebacker Dee Finley was arrested after what appears to be an altercation between himself, a traffic barricade, a scooter, and a university police officer. Here’s the short of it: Finley drove his scooter around a barricade he wasn’t supposed to drive his scooter around; he was pulled over for disrespecting said barricade; after being pulled over Finley refused to give the officer his license and registration because he was late to something; he attempted to leave; the office attempted to stop him; Finley got swole; the officer threatened to tase him; altercation over; Finley arrested.

I don’t know what to think of this other than to say nothing good ever happens on a scooter. They are the devil’s motorcycle, or something along those lines. Uneventful remainder of the week please.

Florida Gators Linebackers – 2010 vs. 2011

One Eyed Willy and I continue to run through the positions, comparing this year’s roster to that of 2010. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line.

2010: Lorenzo Edwards – SR, Brandon Hicks – SR, A.J. Jones – RSR, Jon Bostic – SO, Dee Finley – SO, Scott Peek – RSO, Gideon Ajagbe – FR, Neiron Ball – FR, Jelani Jenkins – RFR, Darrin Kitchens – FR, Ronald Powell – FR, Michael Taylor – FR
Preseason Rating: A
Postseason Rating: C
It would take a lot to convince me to give the Florida linebackers anything less than an A before the start of the 2010 season. Actually, no; you couldn’t convince me they didn’t deserve an A. I would stand my ground on that one. Brandon Hicks had been solid all-around for quite some time and was poised to take a leadership role. A.J. Jones had made some big plays over his career and was something of an under-the-radar type. Jon Bostic seemed to have the potential to be Johnny Rutledge, Andra Davis, Channing Crowder, Brandon Siler, and Brandon Spikes all rolled into one. We were about to see all-world Jelani Jenkins join their ranks. And add the possibility of the nation’s top recruit in Ronald Powell alternating between defensive end and linebacker and you had possibly the best unit on the team. Then something strange happened.
The linebackers disappeared.
I’ve been very careful to not place complete blame on the Gators’ invisible linebackers on anyone in particular, and for good reason. I really don’t know what happened. Some have said individuals like Bostic and Jenkins haven’t lived up to the hype. Some even remarked that Powell had an underwhelming freshman season. I’d argue with you on that for one huge reason: coaching.
Sure, each and every one of the players named above could have performed better. There’s no denying that. However, I have to look at the other piece of the puzzle and that piece is coaching. What was drawn up for these guys? Bostic wasn’t missing tackles on every other play; he was lined up ineffectively. Linebackers were sent on blitzes when the offensive formation or down and yardage to go didn’t warrant it. Although overall play could have been better, coaching contributed greatly to holding the unit back. Many times, they were removed from the play before the play even began.
Due to all of this, the unit gets a C and some are probably even asking “why that high?” I can’t give them a D for the sole reason that they did what they were told to do. They didn’t perform great and there were no All-Americans among them, but had they even lined up in a basic 4-3 zone or man formation for every single snap of the 2010 season, they would have performed better. Instead they were moved around the field while the defensive coaches tried to find an identity for their unit. The coaches get the D in this respect. The unit overall? C.
Jon Bostic – JR, Lerentee McCray – RJR, Scott Peek – RJR, Neiron Ball – SO, Dee Finley – RSO, Jelani Jenkins – RSO, Darrin Kitchens – SO, Ronald Powell – SO, Gideon Ajagbe – RFR, Graham Stewart – FR, Michael Taylor – RFR
Preseason Rating: A
It’s another A and for almost all the reasons it was an A before 2010. Bostic, Jenkins, and Powell have as much raw talent as any linebacking corps in the SEC. Add to them some players growing in the position and you have a unit that could be dangerously good. And yes, I include Powell here and even Lerentee McCray. Powell is playing the buck position and is mostly mentioned with the defensive ends, but if we understand the expectations of the position, he’ll be an LB from time to time. During recent practices, McCray has been moved from DE to LB and even been mentioned as a starter at times. He belongs here as well.
This unit has the potential to be the backbone of the defense as well as the captain of that ship. It needs to be again. Bostic has to take control as the main man in the middle. He needs to command the respect on and off the field that the former great Florida MLBs did. Jenkins needs to be the all-conference performer we all know he can be. And Powell – wherever he may be on the field – needs to enter beast mode and remain in it for 12 or 13 or 14 games.
The rest of the unit is solid in terms of potential, but lacking in terms of experience. None have significant playing time, but any could be asked to jump into an expanded role in 2011. If one of the starters goes down for any significant amount of time, that’s exactly what will happen. This unit, as much as any on the team, needs some blowout time early in the first few games so the backups can get in and get their feet wet. That’s almost a necessity with the linebackers.
One player I haven’t mentioned yet is Gerald Christian and for good reason. I have no idea where he will or won’t see the field. He’s a tight end. He’s a linebacker. He’s a tight end. He’s a linebacker. He’s a tight end. I know this happens with players from time to time because of talent at multiple positions or an injury forcing a move, but I hate it when it does. We may see Christian at LB at some point in 2011, but for now he’s a TE. I think.

Florida Number Changes; Janoris Jenkins to Wear the #1 Jersey

It’s only fitting that one day after I began going through the greatest Florida players to wear each jersey number, the Gators would release an updated roster with some changes.

Among those jersey number changes is a big one that has been rumored for quite some time. Sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins will take over the #1 jersey. The coveted #1 has been worn by such Gator stars as Jack Jackson, Tony George, and Keiwan Ratliff, and most recently by two absolute studs, Reggie Nelson and Percy Harvin. Although Jenkins has only been on the field for the Gators for one season, I believe he’s earned it. Being able to do what he did as a shutdown corner as only a true freshman was remarkable and he should make the #1 jersey proud.

Other changes and additions include:

Andre Debose, WR, #4
Carl Moore, WR, from #16 to #9
Dee Finley, S, #13
Jordan Reed, QB, #16
John Crofoot, LS, #20
Mike Gillislee, RB, #23
Josh Evans, DB, #24
Christopher Scott, RB, from #20 to #29
Jelani Jenkins, LB, #43
Jon Bostic, LB, #52
Christopher Guido, OL, #54
Nick Alajajian, OL, #58
Cole Gilliam, OL, #63
Kyle Koehne, OL, #64
Jon Halapio, OL, #67
Jonotthan Harrison, OL, #72
Xavier Nixon, OL, #73
Desmond Parks, TE, #80
Kedric Johnson, DE, #93
Gary Brown, DT, #95
Edwin Herbert, DT, #97