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Antonneous Clayton could be ‘x-factor’ Gators are looking for on defense

Antonneous Clayton

The secondary struggled last season, relying on so many true freshmen. Now, that unit led by cornerbacks Marco Wilson, CJ Henderson and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson should be excellent.

Clayton has tremendous quickness off the ball, so if he can force the ball to come out early that could lead to interceptions. Conversely, if the coverage makes the opposing quarterback pat the ball in the pocket, Clayton and company must take advantage.

Clayton is starting to flash a playmaking ability. The Gators must have it to rebound from last season’s 4-7 debacle. Yes, the offense must come around, but the Gators need to make the opponent worry about protecting their quarterback.

Florida faces a strong group of SEC quarterbacks in Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley. They must punish them and fluster them into mistakes.

Clayton’s emergence as a highly-productive edge rusher would be a massive benefit for Mullen. If he remains an afterthought, that would be incredibly disappointing.

RELATED: Who is the best Florida Gator currently playing in the NFL?

(You can email Hays at email hidden; JavaScript is required and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)

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