2021 Gators OL Commit: 'I Can Definitely Move a Defender Out of the Way'
Florida Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy has been at work putting together his ideal unit for over two years now, and run blocking prowess has often been a trait he's looked for in his recruits.
That can be seen in the additions of prospects such as Ethan White and Joshua Braun, who have both enrolled over the last two recruiting classes. Imposing figures that play powerfully yet move well for their size, Hevesy appears bound to land a mauler every year.
It makes sense. Head coach Dan Mullen calls his scheme a "smashmouth-spread" because even with his experience developing quarterbacks, he believes that you can spread a defense thin and beat them by running the ball down their throats.
But as seen it 2019, the Gators didn't have the offensive line to do that. On power concepts, Florida struggled to create any gaps and often got manhandled at the line of scrimmage. In return, Mullen leaned on quarterback Kyle Trask and the passing game - which found plenty of success as Trask led the Gators to the 2019 Orange Bowl.
However, this offense is made to run the ball and the Gators want to get back to the run game success they found in 2018, where the team averaged 213.3 rushing yards per game. And 2021 offensive line commit George Jackson can help with that.
"Probably run blocking," Jackson told AllGators regarding the strength of his game in an interview. "I can definitely move a defender out of the way."
Jackson, 6-4, 350 lbs., is of a similar build and skill-set of former Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor when he was coming out of high school (6-5, 350). Blending intriguing size with the athleticism to pull and block in space, paired with polished power-run blocking and vast experience at right tackle, the comparison makes sense when you put on the tape.
Florida absolutely could use a player like Taylor on their line again, as he was instrumental to the Gators' run-game success in 2018. Jackson will tell you himself that his skill-set meets these descriptions, which makes him a fit at UF.
"Their offensive line is, I like their offense," Jackson said. "It's just a power offense, but it's also a little tricky, they're passing too. They're not afraid to go on fourth and three. I like their offense."
The 2021 commit, who pledged to Florida a long while ago in 2018, has recently enrolled back at Stephenson High School (Stone Mountain, Ga.) after spending the 2019 season at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). Though, the global coronavirus pandemic has cast a cloud over his upcoming senior season, much like every prospect across the nation.
But that isn't stopping Jackson from perfecting his craft.
"Basically just focusing on cardio, a lot of cardio, a lot of footwork drills. A lot of drills to keep my footwork up for football, for like technique drills, basically," said Jackson of his current workout program. "I do pass sets, I do run blocking, zone blocking, pull steps. All different things and items that could fit in different offenses."
Jackson is also purchasing weights to continue improving his strength, all while also remaining focused on school work and keeping up with UF coaches.
"I actually talked to Dan Mullen this morning, and I talked to coach Hevesy yesterday. I talk to the coaching staff, I talk to all the personnel a lot. So I talk to the coaches every other day, basically now," stated Jackson.
The Gators coaching staff has made it clear that they value Jackson, making note of his versatility in their conversations. Jackson plays with power at both tackle and guard, erasing the edge in his kick-out blocks in zone concepts and pulling well for a lineman of his size.
On film, Jackson can be seen pulling from the right tackle position out into space on the left side of the formation, even passing the left tackle as the run play develops. He's quick to diagnose his responsibility in his pulls, which is a testament to his processing ability during a play. That athletic ability raises his floor as a run blocker, and also offers potential across multiple facets of offensive line play.
Jackson noted that Florida's staff sees all of this in his game.
"Being a big, athletic lineman because I'm very versatile," Jackson said of the staff's scouting report "I know how to play all right side, all left side, I know how to run block, I'm a pass blocker, zone blocker, pulling, I can do a lot of things as an offensive lineman."