Florida Football: Joey Slackman will be a key cog along the defensive line in 2024

Graduate transfer Joey Slackman has quickly emerged as a potential cornerstone for Florida's defensive line in 2024.
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

When evaluating Florida's defensive line for the upcoming 2024 season, one newcomer stands out as an immediate potential difference-maker - graduate transfer Joey Slackman. Despite arriving in Gainesville after a stellar career at Ivy League program Penn, the 6'3", 304-pound tackle has earned rave reviews and immense respect within the Gators' locker room.

Back in December when he was asked about the transfer at his press conference, Billy Napier had nothing but high praise.

"Our players love the guy. This guy leaves campus after an official visit, and I get calls and texts every day about Joey Slackman and how, man, we've got to get that guy on our team."

Billy Napier said about Slackman

It's easy to see why Slackman quickly won over his new teammates. The former 247Sports #49 overall transfer prospect and #4 ranked defensive lineman brings an impressive blend of size, production, motor, and leadership mentality to the trenches.

On the field, Slackman was a disruptive force for Penn, tallying 50 total tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 QB hurries in 2023 en route to being named the Ivy League's Defensive Player of the Year. The season prior, he started every game, racking up 49 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 4 QB hurries while his 2 pass breakups led to interceptions.

Those consistent impact numbers demonstrate Slackman's ability to be a handful for opposing offensive lines through both his power at the point of attack and his relentless hustle in pursuit. His combination of size and motor allowed him to blow up running plays behind the line while also collapsing the pocket on passing downs.

But beyond his on-field production, Slackman also impressed the Florida staff with his leadership presence and professional approach from the moment he arrived on campus.

"I'll tell you, I wasn't expecting the height and length that walked in the door. But more importantly, when this guy started engaging our staff and people throughout the organization, he made an impression...He's got leadership. He's got a motor, he's driven, he's ambitious, and he's got a plan."

Last season, Florida struggled against the run. Against FBS opponents, the Gators gave up an average of 5.1 yards per carry, 117th in the country.

Pressure on the QB wasn't much better either. Florida's defensive tackles only accounted for four sacks in 2023. Only Vanderbilt generated fewer sacks in the SEC from the interior of their defensive line.

Slackman does face competition for snaps from the likes of Caleb Banks, Cam Jackson, and Kelby Collins. Slackman was limited during spring practice due to injuries. However, his elite physical tools, proven production, and mindset make him the favorite to claim a starting role.