Tuesday November 20, 2012Jon Bostic: Finishing With A Flourish
By Lisa Gallo, UF Communications
The current Gator leader with 224 career tackles, University of Florida senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic started his athletic career at the age of four on the baseball diamond.
His father, a former NFL defensive back who played three seasons for the Detroit Lions in the 1980s, supported him entirely.
“He never really forced football on me,” the Wellington, Fla., native explained. “He said that if I wanted to play football, then I could. He actually preferred me to play baseball. I was pretty good at baseball.”
Bostic played baseball competitively into high school, when he played travel ball. Then, he decided to run track to train for football.
While attending Palm Beach Central High, Bostic played running back, corner and safety on the varsity squad. He was selected as a member of the ESPNU Top 150, was an all-state selection in Florida Class 6A and was named to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. His speed, aggressiveness and natural athleticism were clear to college scouts. Choosing to attend Florida, Bostic was also recruited by the impressive programs of Clemson, Florida State, LSU and Miami.
Although his father “knew all along” that his son would become a linebacker, Bostic didn’t believe it. It took former Gator defensive coordinator and current head coach at Louisville, Charlie Strong, to convince this current defensive star of his natural talent as a linebacker.
“Up until my junior year, I was in denial that I would ever play linebacker in college,” Bostic said. “When Coach Strong was here, he told me when I was a junior ‘you’re bigger than half of the linebackers I’ve got here [at Florida] already and you’re still in 11th grade,’ so that’s when I started thinking that I might play linebacker.”
Transitioning positions was an easy process for this standout athlete. Simply watching and learning from former Gator greats such as Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper and Brandon Hicks allowed Bostic to “really grow up fast,” he said.
Graduating high school early and moving to Gainesville at the young age of 17, Bostic led all freshmen wearing Orange and Blue with 18 total tackles, including 14 solo. By his sophomore season, he had recorded his first career start at middle linebacker in the season opener against Miami University and collected his first interception in the opening quarter.
By his junior campaign, Bostic had secured a starting spot in all 13 games for Florida and led the team with 94 total tackles on the season, ranking seventh overall in the SEC, and a total of 57 yards for loss.
He either led or was tied for the team lead in tackles seven times in 2011 (Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Auburn (tied), Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio State), recording eight-or-more in each of them and double digits three times. Bostic registered a tackle for loss in each of the first four games, all Gator wins, and contributed a team-leading eight tackles, including 4.0 TFL for 15 yards, in the 24-17 triumph over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.
Head coach Will Muschamp believes that Bostic “is playing as well as any linebacker in the country,” during the linebacker’s senior season for UF. The second-year head coach also discussed that his role on special teams makes him even more valuable to the organization.
“The other thing about Jon, and I try to get our players to understand, it's a 53-man roster in the NFL,” Muschamp said. “You better play special teams. Jon is on our punt team, he's helped us on kickoff.”
Dan Quinn, current defensive coordinator for Florida who oversees a unit ranked nationally in several categories, notices additional positive qualities that Bostic brings to the team.
“He’s a conscientious guy,” Quinn said. “So, if he says, ‘hey, these are the things I want to do,’ he would. You see him in the meeting room taking notes and that’s one of the things on the first night I was most pleased about.”
Putting on nearly 35 pounds since high school and only gaining strength, Bostic is an ideal candidate for the NFL Draft. According to an article following Florida’s 44-11 win over South Carolina this year, ESPN analyst Todd McShay lists Bostic as a third- or fourth-round pick for the 2013 Draft.
While Bostic shines on the field for Florida, academics also play a significant role in his life. As a health education major, he wants to attend physical therapy school and aims to have a thriving career in the health field.
His father, who earned his doctorate degree in pharmacy, was not only his athletic role model, but also his academic inspiration. As his support system, he attends every game that Bostic plays in, including the away games.
“He’s the guy I’ve looked up to pretty much my whole life,” he said. “I can’t even explain how much I look up to him, but it’s pretty much in every way – on the field, off the field. The things he’s done: graduated from college, getting his doctorate degree in pharmacy and everything - that’s something I’ve always looked up to.”
Bostic has certainly made his father proud these four years with his consistency, reliability and success in his career at Florida. He plans to continue on this path throughout his last undergraduate year and in the future.
“Off the field, I want to graduate and hopefully get accepted into grad school,” said Bostic, who intends to apply for physical therapy school. “On the field, I just want to win as many games as we can.”
So, what’s next for this all-around Gator great?
“Only time will tell,” he said, with a smile.