Gators' Slaton Named Second-Team Preseason All-American by Sporting News

Demetrius Harvey

One of the Gators' most important pieces along the defensive line heading into the 2020 season, Tedarrell "TJ" Slaton has been named a second-team preseason All-American by Sporting News.

Slaton is slated to be the Gators' starting three-technique this season after the departure of now-Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Adam Shuler, a graduate transfer from the University of Florida who was able to fill a big void in the middle of the Gators' defensive line during the first two seasons of the Dan Mullen era.

Entering the 2020 season, it'll be Slaton to fill the void, and by all accounts, he appears ready.

Last season, Slaton would appear in 12 games, accounting for 29 tackles (12 solos), four tackles for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup. At 6-foot-5, 358 pounds, Slaton is one of the more intimidating players the team has on its defensive line, although his career didn't begin that way.

After being recruited by the Gators in the class of 2017 out of American Heritage High School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla), the team moved the big man to the offensive line. However, that didn't last very long as he was quickly re-assigned to the defensive line shortly before the start of his freshman season.

Following some ups and downs over the next two seasons, Slaton finally filled in the role he was expected to play and is now ready to become the team's starter at defensive tackle as he enters his senior season. According to Pro Football Focus, Slaton produced 12 total pressures, good for ninth-best on the team and accomplished the fourth-best pass-rushing grade (70.5) among all defensive linemen at Florida last season.

No other Gators players appear on the list. While quarterback Kyle Trask isn't likely to make first or second-team All-American lists over the likes of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence nor Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, many would assume tight end Kyle Pitts would be listed at one of the two slots on the list.

Instead, Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth and Miami's Brevin Jordan are listed ahead of Pitts, nowhere to be found on the list. Both Freiermuth and Jordan are expected to be two of the top tight ends in the nation next season, with Freiermuth in a heavily-debated No.1 tight end-conversation.