After being spotted in a defensive jersey from photo footage of practice, Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen confirmed on Thursday that tight end Dante Lang has moved to defensive end entering his redshirt sophomore season.
"Yeah, he has," said Mullen before he went on to joke about other positional changes. "That's like a big one because he changed from offense to defense. [Offensive tackle] Stone Forsythe's gonna play our wide receiver position."
Mullen clarified that no other players have changed sides of the ball. Of course, however, Mullen has stressed the need for positional versatility in the past, especially among defenders.
"That's a big one [Lang], going from offense to defense. We haven't had anybody switch sides of the ball. As you guys know, we experiment with guys at different spots and moving guys around. A lot of that's for depth purposes, but nobody else is really... Dante is playing defense. He's a guy that has changed sides of the ball."
Lang, 6-5, 252 lbs., certainly carries the size to play on the defensive line, and he spent time there at Boca Raton High School (Fla.), recording 52 tackles, 10 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss in his career, according to MaxPreps. During his UF career, Lang has appeared in 15 games as a reserve tight end and special teamer, recording no stats.
Given the coronavirus pandemic, being able to play multiple positions has never been more important. Just one positive COVID-19 test during a game week could be detrimental if it leads to an outbreak within a team, specifically a position group, meaning others will have to step up.
"We play guys at a lot of different positions. You've got to cross-train a lot of different guys," Mullen said last week. "Especially a season like this you don't know how things are going to shape up, so you better have the depth and versatility."
The Gators have only two true strong-side defensive ends on the roster, in redshirt junior Zachary Carter and true freshman Princely Umanmielen. At his size, Lang is certainly a candidate to play there should he develop quickly, back on the defensive side of the ball.