Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McCray Is More Than Pass Rusher for Gators; Senior LB/DE Also a Force When It Comes to Forcing Turnovers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

McCray Is More Than Pass Rusher for Gators; Senior LB/DE Also a Force When It Comes to Forcing Turnovers

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | Florida's defense has forced three turnovers this season. Lerentee McCray can claim two of them.

The redshirt senior has successfully stepped in at the Buck linebacker/defensive end position for the injured Ronald Powell, becoming UF's primary pass rusher. McCray also intercepted a pass and caused another in Florida's 37-20 victory at Tennessee on Saturday. The second pick occurred in the third quarter with the scored tied at 20-all. McCray hit Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray as he threw the ball. The pass floated, and UF safety Matt Elam caught it. Florida scored a touchdown off the turnover.

"Defensively, Lerentee McCray played an outstanding game," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "He's got an outstanding motor, a guy that plays hard all the time. He had a big interception and then caused an interception for Matt Elam later on in the game. He continues to play well for us and gives us a lot of good rush on the edge."

The 6-foot-3, 249-pound McCray has become UF's top defensive playmaker as the 14th-ranked Gators (3-0, 2-0) prepare to host Kentucky (1-2) in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday. He's the only UF player to have an interception, a sack and a forced fumble. McCray also has 1.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

McCray's rush ability has help fill a void left by Powell, who led UF in sacks last season but who will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the spring game.

"He pretty much can do it all," Florida linebacker Jon Bostic said. "He can drop in coverage. He can rush the quarterback. He's physical. He's everything you want in a player."

McCray started five times last season but missed four of the last five games with a shoulder injury. The setback was especially disappointing for McCray as he barely played during his first three years on the team. …

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