Aug 31, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (6) rushes against the Toledo Rockets during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Toledo Rockets 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Fowler: A Key To Success For The Florida Gators Defense In 2014

Aug 31, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (6) during the first half against the Toledo Rockets at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida snatched him away from Florida State on National Signing Day in 2012. He’s had Gator greats Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley as leaders to follow. Dante Fowler Jr. was one of very few bright spots in Florida’s abysmal season last year and is one of the most important players on the Gators defense going into the 2014 season.

Dante Fowler has been one of Florida’s most consistent pass-rushers from the moment he stepped foot in The Swamp. During his freshman year, he was already beginning to show small signs of potential, ending the season with 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He took it to a level beyond words his sophomore year. He finished the season with a whopping 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. What seems to have impressed most about Fowler last season was his production level after Easley was injured. Now entering his junior year with the Gators, Fowler has a plethora of experience under his belt and is prepared to take his abilities to the next level. With Easley deciding to enter the NFL Draft instead of returning for another season at Florida, Fowler is now filling his rather large cleats. On one hand, it won’t be too much different than when he had to step up when Easley was out with a torn ACL. On the other hand, he is now faced with pressure. He is the best player on Florida’s defensive line and teams are going to keep trying to find ways to stop him.

Is Dante Fowler a player who crumbles under pressure? Or does he thrive? So far, it has been the latter. As he evolves into his leadership role, Fowler has made many changes this offseason to aid him in becoming a consistently dominant player. Possibly his toughest change was giving up McDonald’s Big Macs cold turkey. It may not seem like much, but the change has helped him immensely. If offenses had trouble with Fowler before, it won’t be any easier for them in 2014. He is now leaner, faster, stronger, and more determined; the exact ingredients of a playmaker the Gators have desperately been looking for. The light at the end of the tunnel just got a little bit brighter, Gator fans.

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