Justus Boone, Strong-Side Defensive End
School: Sumter High School (Sumter, South Carolina)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 250 pounds
247Sports Composite Rating: Four stars, No. 18 SDE, No. 2 state (S.C.), No. 310 national
Being offered early on in the recruitment process, the Gators made Justus Boone a priority target at strong-side defensive end. Beginning his recruitment as a three-star - before receiving a bump to four-star earlier in 2020 by consensus rankings - from Sumter, South Carolina, the Gators saw the talented defender as a monstrous edge rusher with an intriguing skill set yet to be unlocked to full potential.
Recruited by defensive line coach David Turner, director of player personnel David Cooper—and even a guest appearance by former Gators and current Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap - Boone was given serious attention throughout his recruitment.
Boone holds numerous offers from top schools around the nation—including North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Penn State, and in-state South Carolina.
After visiting Florida once in November of 2019, Boone made his decision on the 26th of February, marking the second strong-side defensive end to commit to Florida in the 2021 class alongside Tyreak Sapp. Boone visited again for March's junior day before in-person recruiting was shutdown amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Where He Fits
With a great mix of size and speed off the edge, Boone brings a promising yet untapped potential as a true strong-side defensive end to the University of Florida. Competing at the highest classification for South Carolina high schools (5A), Boone is able to make plays at a high frequency, which gives a reliable indication of what he’ll be able to do in college.
Standing a 6-5, 250 lbs., Boone possesses above average size for an exterior edge rusher. Accounting for 54 tackles, 16 of which went for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in his junior year at Sumter, Boone displayed a desirable skillset off the edge in both the run and pass defense.
Playing with physicality and aggressiveness, Boone uses his sizable frame and pure strength to be disruptive in the backfield.
With an explosive first step and anticipation when the ball is snapped, the best part of Boone’s game comes as a run defender. Playing downhill towards the ball at all times, the talented defensive end has proven that he has a knack for bringing down the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.
Given his quickness for a player of his stature along with raw power, Boone often alternates from a combination of swim moves to an overbearing bull rush to get after the quarterback. Using these techniques, Boone is able to mix it up for opposing offenses when getting after the passer, but not with high frequency.
To be a legitimate threat at the next level, Boone will have to add more tools to his toolbox as a pass rusher, a feat that can easily be accomplished when he begins working with Turner.
Coming out of high school, current starting defensive end Zachary Carter was known for his explosiveness and lateral quickness off the edge. Still, he needed some work to polish up the intricacies of the game - similar to Boone. With a similar size in comparison to Carter - who stands 6-4, 263 lbs. on Florida's roster - Boone presents promise that can be used nearly the same way when Boone’s time arrives in Gainesville.
As a rotational piece on early downs throughout the first few years on campus, like Carter going into his final year as a Gator, Boone has a chance to shine later on in his collegiate career.
While Boone is coming in with more weight on him than Carter had as an incoming freshman, with a little less length, the South Carolina native is likely to play with a larger frame than Carter and could even be moved to interior defensive lineman if the coaching staff deems it necessary. That is something that Carter, as well as former Gators and now-New York Jets defensive end Jabari Zuniga, have done at times in UF's defense.
However, with the proper development and the addition of necessary tools in the pass-rushing game to his arsenal, Boone has a chance to be a significant contributor in the last year or two of eligibility in the blue and orange, no matter where he lines up on the line.