Gators' LB Coach Robinson: 'It's Been a Blessing' to Have Derek Wingo
It didn't take long for Derek Wingo, one of Florida's highest-rated recruits in the class of 2020, to have his position coach Christian Robinson marveling at his presence within the Gators' linebacking corps.
"Love having him, his family, just having them here with him, I mean, it's been a blessing to have him," Robinson said of Wingo, speaking with the media via Zoom on Wednesday. "Loved getting to know them in the recruiting process, and he's done everything I've asked him to do."
Wingo, 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, enrolled at Florida this summer and moved his mother up with him. Carrieann Wingo has since opened a cupcakery, even serving the team sweets following practice, while Derek has been hard at work with Robinson and learning from veterans around him.
"Just his work ethic, his approach, and I've kind of hinted at it before in other places, was that, he's a guy that makes me have to do my job all the time," Robinson continued. "In the sense that I'm getting calls and texts at night. I'm like 'Who's calling me, texting me?' He's got questions, and that's what we loved about him."
At St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Wingo transitioned from quarterback to the defensive side of the ball midway through his playing career. He thrived, tallying 101 tackles, 24 sacks, 28 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two pass breakups in more of an edge-rushing/outside linebacker role.
"He's very athletic," said Gators BUCK rush end Jeremiah Moon. "He's still learning the system as all young guys are doing. But I think he'll play a role on this defense, and on special teams. I think he'll be great."
In the Gators' defense, Wingo projects more as an inside linebacker who could compete for playing time at MIKE (middle linebacker) down the line. Robinson spent plenty of time on the media call praising linebacker Ventrell Miller's confidence and poise as a leader, stepping into the middle linebacker position after David Reese II graduated, and foreshadowed a day that Wingo could receive similar recognition.
"I mean, with everything that's going on, you don't know who's going to be called upon, and we've kind of taken that approach with everyone, even preparations with the scout team and things like that," said Robinson, referring to the coronavirus pandemic, of course.
"Everybody's got to be ready," Robinson continued regarding Wingo, "and that's what I see him doing is being a guy who's going to contribute, great athlete, just great leadership skills. I think he'll be a guy one day that I'll end up talking up like Ventrell."