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Florida experimenting with defensive lineman’s versatility in trenches

The Florida Gators made a lot of changes on the sidelines this offseason, and it looks like the team will continue its experimenting on the field with one of its young defensive standouts.

Sophomore Kelby Collins didn’t see the field very much during the Gators’ 2023 campaign, but the Florida defensive staff is looking to change that. According to Swamp247’s latest report, Collins is being shifted this season between the interior and edge of the defensive line.

UF co-defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has a curious vision with the experiment, but always saw the versatility in Collins when he met the young lineman earlier this year.

“Kelby gets here in January (of 2023), he’s got a unique, physical skill set, right?” Armstrong said. “He’s big, he’s long. You know, is an inside player, is he an edge player? In our defense, he can really do both, and that’s what really makes him special. The thing I respect about Kelby is he stayed with it. We were able to create a role for him in our sub-package last year, started on third down really the whole season and was a really productive player.”

Armstrong has put a ton of stock into the young prospect, believing he can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the trenches of the SEC.

“I think Kelby can be as good as anybody in this conference. His position flex is really impressive,” Armstrong continued. “He’s tough. I think he’s brought a tremendous amount of urgency to that room. Kelby wants to win, and you talk to his family, they want to win, and they’re serious. And I respect him so much for the work he puts in. I’m excited to see, I don’t want to put any expectations on the guy. But I really think the guy can do something special.”

Collins mainly worked the edge last season, recording 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. The stat line builds for an interesting narrative and makes the decision seem a little questionable.

But the Gardendale, Alabama native doesn’t mind the experiment and believes he’ll be a solid fit wherever the coaches decide to put him.

“I think I can bring versatility on the front, obviously being a smaller interior rusher, I can bring some speed,” he said. “When we need to pass rush I can also go back outside to the five and still bring that physicality and speed that we may need if we put in a different package, stuff like that.”

The Florida Gators will continue to move its chess pieces across the board in hopes of seeing a new and improved squad in 2024. The regular season schedule won’t be friendly, but there’s no time to waste while building up a young roster.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire