Veteran safety DJ Douglas embracing fresh start with Florida Football

The Florida Gators have added Tulane transfer safety DJ Douglas, formerly an Alabama recruit, to bolster their struggling defense.
Florida's defensive back DJ Douglas (12) runs through drills during practice.
Florida's defensive back DJ Douglas (12) runs through drills during practice. / Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY

The Florida Gators football program is determined to claw its way out of a three-year rut – a drought not witnessed in Gainesville since the 1940s. Head coach Billy Napier, entering his third year, has kept a deliberate approach in the transfer portal despite others wanting a sense of urgency.

Among the transfer portal prospects Napier did grab this past offseason as part of this process was redshirt senior DJ Douglas, a safety who arrived in Gainesville after a productive stint at Tulane.

Douglas, who initially committed to Alabama out of high school before finding his way to the Green Wave, has already made a strong impression on the Gators' coaching staff during spring practices.

Napier spoke about Douglas at his recent press conference.

"He kind of fits what we were just talking about. He's a very productive player, he's got traits, there was a connection there, and certainly he's done a nice job. I think what I appreciate about DJ is the consistency, we know what we're going to get every day. He's got great practice habits, he's an effort player, he's done a really good job of picking up the system."

Billy Napier of DJ Douglas

Defensive line coach Gerald Chatman echoed Napier's endorsement, admiring Douglas' intangibles.

"DJ Douglas is a great kid, first of all. He has great character. And again, like I said, coach Napier, he wants to bring those types of guys to the program, guys of character and guys that are going to be, you know, attention to detail, hard workers, working his craft."

Gerald Chatman

Douglas' on-field productivity backs up the praise. In 2023 at Tulane, he racked up 54 tackles, three interceptions, two pass breakups, and a tackle for loss while starting 12 of 13 games. The previous year, he appeared in all 14 contests for the Green Wave, contributing 21 tackles, a pick, and a pass breakup.

As the Gators aim to turn around a struggling defense, Douglas' experience and consistent performance should provide a steady presence in the secondary. With his diligent work ethic and football acumen being hailed, the Alabama native has quickly proven himself to the Florida staff.

While the program has endured some difficult years of late, the addition of battle-tested players like Douglas represents a step towards bringing the Gators back to where they want to be.