Florida football’s Diwun Black has found a home at nickelback

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Florida has had a rotating door at the STAR position in its defense since defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson declared for the NFL after the 2018 season. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has tried other players like Trey Dean and Tre’Vez Johnson in that role, but neither has provided the production that Gardner-Johnson in. Diwun Black arrived on campus earlier this fall and the coaching staff he fits best in that position.

Most media members weren’t sure where the Gators would plug Black when he first arrived because of his unique attributes. He is a 6-foot-3-inch, 228-pound prospect that can hit like a linebacker and has the coverage ability to play in the secondary.

“He’s a monster in the back end,” defensive end Khris Bogle said. “Something that we were really looking for on our defense. I mean, he’s fast, physical, bigger than most safeties and DBs.”

In his only year of junior college, he nabbed 12 interceptions and ran back three of them for touchdowns.

“That’s what you look for with a guy on the back end: if he can take the ball away and give an offense more possessions, that’s what you hunt for a guy on the back end,” safeties coach Wesley McGriff said Tuesday about his stats.

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Black has spent most of fall camp working with McGriff. He’ll bring a different and more versatile skillset than Johnson brings currently.

“I mean, he’s very long, very long athlete,” McGriff said. “He’s got good run ability. He’s constantly improving his change of direction. Constantly improving his demeanor in the classroom and knowing what to do and just go about that communication deal, just communicating and knowing your assignments. But he’s a guy that certainly has a skillset and talent that he’ll be able to support us down the road when we get going in this thing.”

It’s still possible Black may not play Sept. 4 versus FAU because Florida is trying to get him caught up to speed. But the Gators need to get him prepared quickly because his potential is limitless.

“I know he’s one of a kind,” Bogle said. “He’s a one of a kind player. Not every player in the country can have what Diwun Black has. He’s just been great, he’s just been working real hard [this] offseason and coming in now to play a role.”

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