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Jon Greenard Gives Gators Elite Edge Presence

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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At 6'4'', 263 pounds, Jon Greenard will step right into a feature role in Gainesville. The expectation is more of the same.

Florida is poised to have the premier secondary in all of college football. A number of stars, led by corner C.J. Henderson, are fixtures on various pre-season lists. Another name, a newcomer bringing impressive credentials to the edge of the front seven, will likely be one of the defense's most important: Jonathan Greenard. The former Louisville team captain brings experience, leadership and production to the Gators.

Greenard could prove to be the SEC's biggest impact newcomer.

Though Greenard missed almost all of last season due to injury, he, in 2017, was a dynamic defensive playmaker. Greenard ranked in the top five in the ACC in tackles for loss that fall, recording 15.5, adding seven sacks and six quarterback hurries. He was the catalyst for an aggressive Cardinals' defense that forced 23 total turnovers. With the ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker, Greenard's true position might as well be "playmaker". 

Minus recent NFL Draft pick Jachai Polite, who led all SEC East defensive linemen with 17.5 tackles for loss in 2018, there is an opportunity alongside returnee Jabari Zuniga for an impact edge-rusher up front. Greenard fits that bill. He is ready, right away, to be a difference-maker for Florida. That distinction is one Greenard earned long ago. Moving forward, the stars have aligned for an orange-and-blue continuation.  

What should only accelerate Greenard's transition is his relationship with Gators' defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Greenard was recruited by Grantham to Louisville and recorded seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in his scheme as a true freshman in 2016. Greenard is quite comfortable with Grantham's scheme and Florida's defensive play-caller is well aware of Greenard's talent and ability. A banner senior season could be on the horizon.

At 6'4'', 263 pounds, Greenard will soon step right into a feature role in Gainesville. The expectation is more of the same.

On paper, Florida will have one of the best defenses in the country. Returning the likes of Henderson, Zuniga, David Reese, Brad Stewart, Donovan Stiner, and getting Marco Wilson back from injury, Grantham's defense is ready to make a statement. Greenard, already established as an edge playmaker, could prove to be the Gators' exclamation point.  

Using Greenard's statistics from his true junior season at Louisville in 2017, he actually ranks as the top "returning" edge rusher in the SEC per Jim Johnson's exclusive OAYP metric. Within the formula, Greenard was one of only two league edge rushers, joining South Carolina's D.J. Wonnum, who also missed 2018 due to injury, with a final score of at least 1.0. Depending upon your perspective, Greenard might start the season as the league's premier edge defender.

The momentum surrounding Florida's program is notable. Ten wins in Dan Mullen's debut exceeded most projections. Already, the Gators are working for more of the same. Florida won its final three games of last season by an average score of 48.3 to 13, a stretch which included lopsided victories over both Florida State and Michigan. There is a palpable energy driving the Gators forward, an excitement Greenard is a very real part of. 

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports