Last week when Florida Gators EDGE rusher Justus Boone tore his ACL in Florida’s first scrimmage, it opened the door for new players to emerge as contributors at the position. Sophomore Jack Pyburn stepped up in absence of Boone continuing a successful fall camp for the young defender.
Pyburn stepped up the podium for the first time in his career detailing his role in the defense now that Boone is out for the season and his approach to the game.
Pyburn’s role now that Justus Boone is out for the 2023 season
“I would say the biggest difference is you have to play a 4-I more, which is a little bit more of an interior position in certain circumstance, but overall, they’re pretty similar. I’ve been the whole camp rotating with starting groups and second-team groups, so I can play either position. Honestly, for me, Coach Napier preaches something all the time about being a 4D Gator, which means you own every aspect of the game. I’m to the point now where I’m so comfortable on the field, I feel like I can play maybe four position. It’s about being a Swiss Army knife. I feel like that’s what I am, honestly, the Swiss Army knife. You put me on special teams, I’m going to do my job and be out there flying around. You put me anywhere on defense, I’m going to find my way and do my job.
It’s created a good opportunity for me and I’m just approaching each day with the consistent habits and tendencies, and I’m just looking to have a great season and continue to make an impact for myself.”
How has Coach Mike Peterson helped Pyburn as a pass rusher?
“When I was in high school I played linebacker and people told me ‘I think you could be an edge rusher, I think you can do this’, So, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna learn how to use my hands.’ And when I came here, I looked like a plank. I mean, I was, I’m just going to be honest, I mean, I couldn’t move well. I just couldn’t do these things. So he just told me, ‘jump rope, yoga.’ I took those things, and over the offseason, I did yoga three days a week, Yin yoga to be specific, to get into tendons and ligaments, and now, when you watch me play, y’all are gonna see. I don’t even look like the same person anymore.
So you know, it’s just taking those little things from my coach and I implemented those things every single day and took them to heart, and then, as well as just moves and stuff. I mean when you play for a guy that’s been in the league, he’s been there, done that, it’s so much easier to take in that coaching because he’s done it, he’s been there. So he’s really worked on me, my double swipe… everyone knows I got power, I play aggressive, I play physical, but he’s really helped me to work on my hands, work on my speed Owning that I can also be a fast and twitchy guy, not just a big power muscle.”
Reviewing his scrimmage performance
I try to go out, scrimmage, practice, it’s all the same at the end of the day. You’re coming out with the same mentality. Do your role, define your role, and I think one of the big things that I’ve understood, especially being in college now, especially under coach Armstrong… You don’t make plays off of just going out there and trying to be an athlete or just being a good player. You make plays off of doing your job. And when you do your job, when you define your role and you’re part of your role, that’s when you make plays. You know obviously you can do a little bit extra here, a little bit extra there, but the scheme is designed to allow you to make plays, and if you know the scheme, follow the scheme, you’ll make plays.”
On Austin Armstrong
“I love Coach Armstrong. He’s got energy and he’s aggressive and I mean, that’s me. You know, so I just mix really well with him and every single time I see him, he’s got a smile on his face, fist-bumping me or jumping on me. It’s just it’s amazing to feel that. He calls me off the firecracker because I gotta bring so much energy at some points.
I love him and love what he’s doing and he’s really brought our defense, and honestly the team really, especially. I heard Graham talking about it, he texts back and forth. I mean, practice is fun, because it’s a rivalry between the offense and the defense and we get after it. Plain and simple.”
Feeling pressure after Boone’s injury
“You feel a little bit more of pressure to pick up your play or do extra things, but at the end of the day it’s about consistency. And when you have a consistent regiment, you just stick to that plan and you follow those rules. I think that’s the biggest thing for me. I tell you, as a group, we’ve probably had one of the best weeks of practice in the EDGE room as possible because we’re all just competing and trying to raise each other up to another level.
I couldn’t be more proud of every single person in that room. We’ll make up the ground for him. Another thing, as soon as he got injured, the next day we put his jersey up on our wall in the outside linebacker room and EDGE room. I wrote a little note, so every time you are in there and you’re watching film, you’re going over your plays, and understanding what you’re doing, you look up there and see that, it definitely gives you a little pep in your step, for sure.”