A late-career position change isn't typically a sign for the better for a player. But, perhaps that was just what redshirt senior defender Jeremiah Moon needed to revive his career with the Florida Gators.
After not playing much last season due to an injury, Moon was presented with an opportunity to settle in at a new position, playing the MIKE (middle) linebacker role with the Florida Gators after playing closer to the line of scrimmage in years past. His role has only increased after the team lost leader Ventrell Miller for the season due to a biceps injury.
Now, Moon is taking the opportunity and running with it, able to fill the void as best as possible, but he understands that no one can replace what Miller brings to the table as far as his leadership goes.
“First off, you can't replace a Ventrell Miller," Moon said on Monday. "His leadership, the way he handles himself, he is the ultimate leader for this team. Two, I'm just learning so much from Ventrell as far as being vocal and just the way he plays the game. I'm just thankful for Ventrell.”
Miller was seen coaching up players on the sideline during Saturday's loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide, joining the captains on the field for the opening coin toss. The leadership and skills he brings to that position cannot be replaced, but that doesn't mean Moon isn't still learning from him and taking the challenge head-on.
"Honestly, it's been a big transition. I didn't really know what was going to come with it. I just knew that I needed to step in and fill a role," said Moon.
"I just took it day by day. In the spring I was out so I sat in the inside linebackers room. Knowing that I knew everything about the outside linebacker position so I sat in with coach, just met with him throughout the spring, offseason and just tried to progress through the basics of inside linebacker because I hadn’t done it in a while.”
The process so far has gone successfully and the transition has looked smoother than many could have imagined thus far. Over the course of three games, Moon has recorded 16 total tackles, tied for the second-most on the team with safety Rashad Torrence II. He's also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack on the year.
Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has praised Moon for his ability thus far this season. While many have seen the injury to Miller as the reason why Moon has started playing inside, that's not necessarily the case. Moon has played inside all season, and he's raised some eyebrows around the coaching staff and its players.
"I think the world of Jeremiah Moon, his preparation and what he does. He has a lot of versatility. He can play off the ball, he can play at the end of the line, he can give you pass rush and he can cover," Grantham said of Moon on Monday.
"We’re going to find ways to utilize a player like that. So he’s really been playing that since the first week. Glad you asked, I think a lot of him and what he’s doing.”
What Moon is doing in what will be his final season at Florida - sixth year senior -, will greatly benefit not only the Gators but his draft stock later down the line. A versatile player will always supersede one that can only play a singular position, and he's shown plenty that he can do just that.
“I’m just trying to find a way to get better every week. I know its been a long road, I’m happy things are starting to pay off. Every week I’m trying to find something else to get better at.”
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