Photo: Cornerback Jadarrius Perkins and linebacker Jeremiah Moon; Credit: Alex Shepherd
Not all is wrong with the Florida Gators' defense this season, even its secondary that counted as the No. 100 in the nation last year. No, it appears the team is heading down the right track and transfer defensive back Jadarrius Perkins has been a major reason for the upwards trajectory.
Since landing in Gainesville earlier this offseason, Perkins has climbed up the Florida depth chart, starting out as one of their cornerbacks for this season and now being used as a STAR, or nickel, corner along with Tre'Vez Johnson over the first two games of the year.
So far, so good, and head coach Dan Mullen spoke highly of the former Missouri Tiger during Monday's press conference ahead of the program's biggest matchup of the year against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"Perk, really pleased ... Came in, transferred in, got here had to pick up the system fast. Started him at corner, now also playing some STAR. He’s done a good job of working his tail off, mentally," Mullen said.
"Obviously, he has some great physical tools, but mentally to learn the system, learn the defense, get ready to get out there on the field. He’s done a good job making plays.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Perkins has taken 20 coverage snaps, surrendering just two receptions on five targets, allowing just 14 total yards. He's also netted one pass breakup, giving up an average quarterback rating of 47.9.
While the sample size isn't large, it does speak highly of his ability to disrupt passes and learn the system defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has in place. The defensive coordinator spoke highly of the young defender, too, on Monday.
"Yeah, you know, JD, I love that kid, man," Grantham began. "I mean, you talk about a kid that busts his tail to be better every day. He's so conscientious. He really wants to please and wants to do things the right way. He'll come in early, he'll come in, ask some questions on something, he may come over as soon as you try to coach him up on the field or on the sideline to say, 'Hey, coach, what'd you see?'
"You know, I'm really glad he's here. I mean, getting him has been unbelievable because he's been able to really give us some quality STAR reps, and he's only going to get better. I mean, you want to have guys like that to coach. They're fun."
While this is his first opportunity at the D1 level, Perkins is technically a junior, spending two years at the junior college level, a teammate of Gators linebacker Diwun Black at Mississippi Gulf Coast prior to making his way to Missouri earlier this year and promptly transferring to Florida after the spring.
Now, he's had a chance to showcase his versatility, adding more depth to such an important position on the Florida defense.
"I mean, he picked it up pretty quickly and did a good job with it, and Tre’Vez Johnson does a great job with it, too," Mullen says. "But those guys bring a little something different, and create more flexibility within the defense and creates more depth within the defense.”
Moving forward, Florida will need defensive backs such as Perkins to continue playing at a high level. While the Gators have had some issues in recruiting at times, their hits on the transfer-portal market have been remarkable over the years, and Perkins looks to try to become yet another highly-rated player.
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