Transfer Portal University.
Since Dan Mullen’s arrival to Gainesville following the 2017 season, the Florida Gators have utilized the transfer portal with a high volume to patch holes created by woes in recruiting.
With this offseason getting off to a hot start in the portal, the philosophy of filling in the gaps with experienced players looking for new opportunities in college football is alive and well.
Adding three players to the fold from the portal, not even a month into the offseason, the Gators have shown a major focus to bolster the roster where it needs it the most.
Specifically, Florida has acquired two defensive tackles entering their final year of eligibility in Antonio Shelton from Penn State on Jan. 6 and Daquan Newkirk from Auburn just over a week later to replace the likes of Kyree Campbell and Tedarrell Slaton on the interior.
Likely to be paired with the young talents of Gervon Dexter and Jalen Lee to anchor down the trenches, both Shelton and Newkirk become vital pieces to the defensive line as soon as they step foot in Gainesville.
As a result, it’s important to know what each brings to the table in terms of skillset. Soon after his announcement to Florida, I took a look at Antonio Shelton and the talents he possesses.
Now, it’s time to dive into the gameplay of Daquan Newkirk as he embarks on his final season of college eligibility in a new shade of blue and orange.
Standing 6-foot-3, 317-pounds, Newkirk moves well for his size. Equipped with the necessary speed to split gaps and get after ball carriers, Newkirk was able to record 40 tackles, five TFL, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble throughout 30 games with the Tigers.
Providing versatility to the defensive tackle spot with his heightened ability to stop the run and get after the passer, Newkirk can be used in various situations. Pairing that with the ability to take on double teams, the Orlando (Fla.) native brings the opportunity for other defensive linemen to hit home while still making an impact on the play himself at points.
Where Newkirk falls short at times is creating push off the line of scrimmage into the backfield. Often struggling to disengage from the offensive lineman, Newkirk can be stonewalled at the line of scrimmage at points, making it difficult to bring down ball carriers in the backfield.
However, the now fifth-year senior combats those inefficiencies creating put with a strong grip that allows him to muscle down the opposition when holding on by his fingertips.
If Newkirk gets one arm on the ball carrier, there’s a good chance that rusher is going down to the turf, making him a dynamic piece to halt big plays in the making.
Spending one season in JUCO before making the move to Auburn, Newkirk has been battle-tested to work hard for what he earns. Adding the fact that injuries set him back in the early portions of his career in Jordan Hare Stadium, the defensive tackle is hungry to prove himself at Florida.
Immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, Newkirk will have the opportunity to jump right in as an impact player on day one.
While one starting spot will likely be reserved by Gervon Dexter next season, the competition that will be had by Lee, Shelton, and Newkirk himself presents Florida with a good problem to have. Talent in quantity.
Newkirk’s ability to hold his own in the SEC is unquestioned. If he can stay healthy, Florida may have found another gem via the transfer portal to anchor the interior of the defensive line and provide much-needed depth and rotation upfront for 2021.