Big things are expected out of the next player on our countdown. Jonathan Bullard is primed for a breakout season. Over the past two seasons, Bullard has played in 24 games, including 10 starts. He’s racked up 60 tackles, including 7.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks. As part of his First Team All-SEC Freshman campaign, Bullard played in all 13 games, including two starts, registering 27 tackles, five TFL, and 1.5 sacks. He also notched career-highs in tackles, with seven against Vanderbilt, and sacks, 1.5 against Missouri, that still stand today. He followed that up with a 33 tackle (second on the defensive line), 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sack with four quarterback hurries season in his sophomore year. He played in 11 games, missing the Georgia Southern game with a sprained knee, and started eight games at defensive end. This season, Bullard will be looking to replace Dominique Easley by flipping to the defensive tackle position, although he most likely will play some DE.
Bullard arrived in Gainesville as a highly touted recruit, ranking in the top-15 overall recruits in all of the recruiting services. Accoriding to 247 Sports Composite Rankings, he was the top-ranked strong-side defensive end, second-ranked recruit out of North Carolina (only fellow Gator D.J. Humphries ranked ahead of him, and 13th overall in the country. He chose UF over South Carolina, Clemson, Nebraska, Alabama, among other offers.
During his time at Crest Senior High School in Shelby, NC, the same school two-time All-American Brandon Spikes attended, Bullard was incredibly productive. He tallied 189 tackles with 25 tackles-for-loss and 32 sacks over his junior and senior seasons. Like Spikes, Bullard was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In his 2011 senior season, he had 82 tackles and 16 sacks en route to a Honorable Mention All-American by Sports Illustrated, AP All-State First Team, and a Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas nod. He also proved to be a winner, taking Crest to back-to-back NCHSAA Class AAA championship games, finishing as state runner-up.
Bullard, Dante Fowler Jr., and Bryan Cox Jr. are all expected to form a formidable starting defensive line. Previous countdown participants Joey Ivie, Jay-nard Bostwick, and Gerald Willis, along with Jordan Sherit, Caleb Brantley, Darious Cummings and Leon Orr should form one of the deepest defensive lines in the nation. Expect huge things from the 6-3 270 pounder this season as he tries to improve his draft stock in his junior season. At number 90, Bullard will likely contribute the most out of all of the players we’ve counted down so far for Will Muschamp and D.J. Durkin. You can follow him @JBullard90.