After seeing Trinity Catholic High School (Ocala, Fla.) Jake Slaughter play multiple times last year, it was good to see the now-Florida Gators commit in pads and a helmet once more, stopping by a Celtics practice this past week.
He looks to be in the best shape he’s been in, and it’s definitely noticeable. Leaner, quicker, and more explosive. The 6-5 and now trimmed down 290-pound interior offensive lineman had a strong showing on Tuesday.
After watching the practice footage again, the same opinion held true that came about on Tuesday: The Gators landed a rock-solid interior offensive lineman. Compared to his play as a junior, Slaughter has made several advancements in his game this offseason.
First, Slaughter is more explosive out of his stance now than he was before. His first initial step is much better than last season. With the quickness, Slaughter will be able to make more reach blocks as well as complete more combination blocks where he climbs to the second level. His quickness will also bode well within the screen game. His improved frame also holds another advantage related to quickness.
He also looked more flexible. Slaughter appeared to provide even more bend in his knees, and he did a better job of staying low out of his stance. When a player this powerful explodes off the football and initiates contact through his hips, very few defensive linemen will do well against him. Slaughter, like almost all young offensive linemen that must continue to develop, just needs to stay the course. He can be a starter for the Gators.
Slaughter played center and guard the past couple of seasons, and he’s likely to play guard this fall. He could play anywhere on the interior at the next level, but we project him to primarily focus on the center position in a Gators uniform. In the featured video above, Slaughter makes note that he will not be enrolling early at Florida.
Below, you can watch Slaughter's highlights from this past season.
Another Trinity Catholic player is still on Florida’s wish list. Offensive tackle Caleb Johnson previously committed to Auburn, but Florida would love to add him to its recruiting class after sending an offer his way on May 5th. The 6-6, 285-pound Johnson also redefined his body this offseason. At the SEC level, Johnson is good enough to play right tackle or left tackle. He’s just beginning to reach his physical potential.
Much stronger and even more athletic than last season, Johnson’s biggest advancement would be technique and understanding of the world of offensive line play. He plays much better in space than he did last year, and he’s also more adept at using his hands to manipulate a defensive lineman. It will be interesting to see how well these two develop this season.
Trinity Catholic has several other Division I prospects ranging from the class of 2021 to 2023, and Gators wide receiver coach, Billy Gonzalez, has a son named Cole Gonzalez that’s the starting quarterback for Trinity Catholic as well, following his transfer from Oak Hall (Gainesville, Fla.). The following podcast discusses the two aforementioned prospects, as well as the other notable players for Trinity Catholic.