The Florida Gators started off July 4 with some fireworks of their own by landing highly-rated edge rusher TJ Searcy from Upson-Lee (Ga.).
AllGators has gone to the film room to analyze and break down Searcy’s skill set and what he will bring to Gainesville when he arrives on campus in 2023.
However, before even putting on the tape, the first thing that stands out about the talented edge rusher from the Peach State is his sheer size. Standing at around 6-foot-5, 243 pounds and boasting a 6-foot-11 wingspan, he has all the measurables you look for in an elite defensive lineman/EDGE player at the next level.
At the prep level, Searcy plays with a mean streak on both sides of the ball. Offensively, as a tight end, he gets out in front of the ball carrier as a lead blocker and finishes his blocks. That physicality directly translates to the defensive side of the ball, where he will play in college.
More importantly on the defensive side of the ball, he shows nice athleticism to play as an off-ball LB and even STAR nickel corner occasionally at his size. He diagnoses the play quickly and flies downhill to the football to make the tackle with proper pursuit angles.
When he gets closer to the line of scrimmage, which is where he will likely be at the next level aligning as a JACK rusher, he shows good first-step quickness out of his stance to get past opposing offensive tackles. He also uses his hands well to shed linemen and get to the quarterback or ball carrier, previously flashing a savvy swipe move while working off of the tackle’s outside shoulder.
As he continues to develop, his arsenal of pass rush moves should certainly expand. It’s a bit limited at this time due to the various roles Searcy mans, but his adept hand usage, length and strength should make learning new moves a breeze for the EDGE prospect.
Searcy has a good motor, chasing the quarterback or ball carrier down from behind or showing range out in space to cover a lot of ground and make a tackle.
The only downside Searcy shows at this point is that, because he is so big and strong, he sometimes plays high and relies on his strength a little too much. But this is common for prospects at the prep level and something that the blue-chip prospect can work on during his senior year and with coach Mike Peterson at the next level.
He’s also a raw prospect for the position he’s expected to play, as Upson-Lee uses Searcy in so many spots that it’s been hard for him to focus on solely edge rushing.
That will change upon his arrival at UF where he will learn not only the JACK position but, in time, be able to expand his usage to play some strong-side DE, too.
Overall, it’s easy to see why Searcy is a prospect that several college football bluebloods wanted and went all out for.
Searcy choosing the Gators over a final four schools that included Tennessee, Clemson and South Carolina marked a big recruiting win for Billy Napier and his staff by landing the prospect that was the number one JACK LB target on their board.
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