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PFF ranks Joey Slackman as SEC's highest-graded returning DT

On3 imageby:Zach Abolverdi06/11/24


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s Joey Slackman was ranked the No. 2 defensive lineman transfer in the On3 Industry transfer rankings for the 2024 class, behind Ole Miss signee Walter Nolan.

According to Pro Football Focus, Slackman is the highest-graded returning defensive tackle in the SEC this year. He has a PFF grade of 90.5, almost 10 points higher than the No. 2-rated DT, Kentucky’s Deone Walker (80.6).

It should be noted, of course, that Slackman’s grade is based on his last season at Penn, so he was playing against Ivy League competition — not SEC offensive linemen. Nonetheless, Slackman dominated at defensive tackle.

He was the 2023 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and received All-America honors, finishing with 50 total tackles (23 solo), 4.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss, which ranked first on the team and second among Ivy League defenders.

Florida defensive lineman coach Gerald Chatman and redshirt junior DL Caleb Banks both said Slackman had no issue this spring making the jump from the Ivy League to the SEC.

“He caught on quick,” Banks said. “Like very, very quickly.”

Chatman added, “I think he’s adjusting great. he has the right mentality. You go out there and he tests the physicality, he’s holding his own, he’s making plays.”

Slackman will be competing with Banks this year for a starting job. Chatman credited the graduate transfer for taking on a leadership role in the DL room.

“He fits the mold of character that the leadership here you know what we stand for. He’s disciplined. He’s probably in my office right now waiting for me to watch the film, watch this practice. But he brings that work ethic and it’s good to have him part of the unit,” Chatman said. “On the field he’s high effort, attention to detail, and he’s working technique and he’s getting better.”

Slackman was one of five top-100 transfers in Florida’s 2024 class, including three in the top 40. He chose the Gators over Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. 

“He’s a former wrestler,” UF coach Billy Napier said of Slackman. “The film was impressive. I think he got 20-plus offers pretty quickly in the cycle. We started communication. He came on an official visit. I’ll tell you, I wasn’t expecting the height and length that walked in the door, but more importantly, when this guy started engaging our staff and people throughout the organization, he made an impression. He left an impression. This guy’s got leadership. He’s got a motor, he’s driven, he’s ambitious, and he’s got a plan.

“But the number one thing I would say about Joey, our players love the guy. This guy leaves campus after an official visit, and I’m getting calls and texts every day about Joey Slackman and how, man, we’ve got to get that guy on our team. I think just his personality and demeanor resonated with our players, all parts of our team, not just that position group, but offensive players, specialists, defensive players. So, I was really impressed with Joey and certainly excited about getting him here and getting to work.”

Florida now has eight players ranked top 10 in the SEC at their position by PFF. The others are quarterback Graham Mertz, receivers Eugene Wilson III and Elijhah Badger and offensive linemen Jake Slaughter, Austin Barber, Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson and Devon Manuel.

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