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Redshirt Report: Richerd Desir-Jones

Florida offensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones
Florida offensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones

Leading up to spring practices, Inside the Gators will take an in-depth look at how last season went for Florida's 2015 signees who redshirted with our Redshirt Report series. Today, we focus on how last season went for offensive guard Richerd Desir-Jones.

When Desir-Jones arrived at Florida over the summer of 2015, he brought with him just a little more than one year of experience at the high school level playing on offense.

At powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Desir-Jones played at defensive tackle until the team moved him late in his junior season to offensive guard. As a senior, during a 2014 season where St. Thomas won the Class 7A state championship, Desir-Jones flourished in his new role – and schools including Florida took notice and offered the three-star 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive guard.

Still somewhat new to offensive side of the ball as compared to some of his other fellow linemen at Florida, Desir-Jones certainly benefitted from getting more accustomed to the position at the college level while taking a redshirt.

“It’s a new system, you’ve got to learn the system,” said St. Thomas Aquinas offensive line coach Jay Connolly, who keeps in touch with Desir-Jones regularly. “There were still some technique things he needed to work on. I worked with him hard on technique when he was with us. I really focused with him on that. But again, he was really only one year with us as an offensive lineman. There’s still a lot for him to learn.”

During his redshirt year, Desir-Jones spent his year developing his own game while seeing most of his practices reps on scout team at offensive guard. According to Connolly, Desir-Jones has been happy with us own progress thus far.

“They’re pleased with him,” Connolly said. “Of course, there’s always room for improvement. He’s never going to get self-satisfied or complacent. But he’s developing at a good pace. If he continues doing that, I think he’s got a good chance of helping the Gators."

Overall, Connolly points to Desir-Jones’ athleticism as his greatest attribute as a football player. At St. Thomas Aquinas, Desir-Jones was a two-sport athlete, also seeing a prominent role on the wrestling team and winning county title in the 285-pound class at the BCAA Wrestling Tournament.

“He’s a very athletic kid,” Connolly said. “He can move well. He’s got a lot of heart. He’ll bring it. He’ll never quit - he’s very determined.”

As far as areas of Desir-Jones’ own game he’s working on polishing, Connolly points to his former offensive guard’s pass protection skills.

“I think pass protection is always the thing that he could get better on,” he said. “It’s a real skillset to be good in pass protection. I think his overall strength too is always an issue. When you go to college, they put you in that weight room constantly. It’s a whole different world. We have a great program at St. Thomas, but it’s a new world at college. You’ve got to compete against a bunch of guys who are as just good as you are, but I think that’s kind of an eye-opener for him.”

This offseason, Desir-Jones will have an opportunity to compete with plenty of others for playing time at offensive guard. Florida loses starter Trip Thurman but also returns Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan, Antonio Riles, Travaris Dorsey, Nick Buchanan and Brandon Sandifer to the mix at guard. The Gators are set to add two interior linemen from the 2016 class, Brett Heggie and Jawaan Taylor, this summer.

If Desir-Jones plays a more prominent role in the rotation in the upcoming years, Connolly believes Florida fans will get to know him as a good-hearted kid who is “just a joy to be around.”

“I just think his spirit - that’s the thing that’s going to emerge,” Connolly said. “They’re going to realize what a wonderful kid he is. His dedication, his focus - he’s really a focused kid. As Gators fans get to know him a little better, they’ll love him for that.”


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