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Mohamoud Diabate is one of a few Florida players who made a position change in 2020.
After spending his freshman season mostly on the edge at Buck, Diabate moved to linebacker to give the Gators more depth at that spot. He’s lined up at both inside and outside this season.
“To me, it’s been a good opportunity to just expand my skill-set and learn new things I haven’t been able to learn before,” Diabate said. “Just working in space, making different plays in space, that’s really the difficult thing. Coming from playing on the line to backing up, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with a lot of faster people in open space. So, that was the biggest learning curve for me.”
Diabate had his best game as a Gator against Arkansas. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore tied his career-high and led the team with seven tackles, including 2.5 TFL and a quarterback hurry.
On the Razorbacks’ first drive of the quarter, Diabate made back-to-back stops and then forced a fumble on Rakeem Boyd’s third-run run. It was recovered by Zachary Carter for a 35-yard scoop-and-score.
“He’s a guy that obviously flashed last year on the edge and played for me in the middle at the beginning of the season at times,” UF linebackers Christian Robinson said of Diabate earlier this season. “I expect him to kind of move around and be able to be diverse in the ways that he lines up. I think that’s his strength, really, is just being able to move. You’re really never going to know where he’s at, that’s kind of the blessing of having him in my room this year.”
Saturday’s blowout win over Arkansas allowed Robinson to play some young players at his position, including Ty’Ron Hopper. He recorded four tackles and posted the highest grade on defense. Diabate has been impressed with another freshman linebacker.
“[Derek] Wingo, I love that boy,” Diabate said. “Wingo’s gonna give his all, he’s gonna strain, he’s gonna do all that. So, I’m really excited. I know the coaches are really excited on Wingo’s future and I know they’ll be right because of the guy he is and the kind of coaches he has surrounding him.”
After giving up 100 points in the first three games, Florida’s starters on defense bounced back and allowed just 10 and 14 points against Missouri and Georgia. Diabate and the Gators overcame a pair of one-play scoring drives last Saturday and made several stops to pull away from Arkansas.
“The sky is the limit. We have great coaches, a great defensive coordinator, great players. We’ve just got to do our jobs,” Diabete said. “Week by week, the intensity has increased in practices and in the games. We just listen to coach [Todd] Grantham and coach [Dan] Mullen. What they’re saying is to just keep going and keep moving forward, and that’s what we’re doing.”