Florida junior linebacker Jonathan Bostic made quite an impact during his first season as s starter in 2010.
He recorded 57 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three interceptions as part of a promising one-two punch with then-redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins at linebacker for the Gators.
However, one game that saw inexperience get the best of Bostic was Florida’s 31-6 road defeat against Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 team at the time.
Bostic recorded just one tackle for a defensive unit that surrendered three touchdowns on consecutive Crimson Tide possessions in the second quarter.
One year later, the Gators hope that a smarter, more experienced Bostic can make a bigger contribution this time around.
The Wellington, Fla. native currently leads UF with 26 tackles and 2.0 sacks in the early going and has shown no signs of slowing down.
In fact, he generated Florida’s first defensive touchdown of the season, forcing a fumble while sacking Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton in last weekend’s 48-10 victory.
Senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard scooped up the loose ball and took it two yards into the end zone, putting the game out of reach at 28-3.
While that play came against the hapless Wildcats, it was still encouraging for the Gators nonetheless.
With last season’s leading tackler and team captain Ahmad Black gone to the NFL, Bostic has stepped up to fill the vacated leadership role.
While he may not bear the team captain moniker like Black, Bostic has been the rock for a defense that ranks as one of the nation’s best.
Florida ranks fifth nationally in total defense and rush defense, and they have the No. 4 scoring defense in the country.
The Gators will put those numbers on the line against junior running back Trent Richardson and the Alabama offense Saturday.
Richardson, a favorite in this season’s Heisman Trophy race, currently ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with 441 rushing yards and leads the league with eight touchdown runs, tied with South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore.
Stopping a bruising speedster like Richardson may seem futile, but the Florida defense stands more of a chance than they did just one year ago.
And that all starts with a motivated Bostic, who will likely account for more than just one tackle this time around.
Photo by Mark Almond, Birmingham News