GAINESVILLE -- Florida will start a freshman at linebacker on Saturday against Tennessee, but coaches and teammates are confident Antonio Morrison can get the job done.
Morrison is playing in place of starting weak-side linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who is out for at least two games with a broken right thumb suffered against Texas A&M. A true freshman from Bollingbrook, Ill., Morrison has impressed since arriving early during the spring.
“He really came in with this competitive linebacker mind-set that you love. That’s one of the things I respect most about him,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Wednesday. “Early on in his career, [playing in the Southeastern Conference] was not too big. It was not that, ‘I just want to fit in early.’ It was, ‘I want to come in and I want to play and I want to show that I belong.’ He’s certainly done that.”
Through two games, Morrison is third on the team with nine tackles. He stepped in immediately against the Aggies after Jenkins went down on the game’s first series and filled in with six tackles, helping to instill confidence in his teammates although most already had belief in his ability.
“We feel like he’s going to do a real good job,” Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray said.