Chauncey Gardner-Johnson proves value in playing final bowl game


Although he was the first member of the Florida roster to declare for the NFL draft, there was no stopping Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from playing in his final game in orange and blue. Unlike many other NFL-bound players who elected to sit out of bowl games this season, Gardner-Johnson cemented his legacy and improved his draft stock by playing.

On the brightest stage of the season, Gardner-Johnson put on an unbelievable performance. For those who chose to sit out of their bowl games, this Gator DB showed exactly why you should play. He recorded two interceptions, one of which was an incredible bait-and-hook take away that helped Florida gain the momentum to run away from the Wolverines, with the score still close at 13-10. Fans and NFL scouts alike saw Chauncey for what he was at the Peach Bowl – one of the best players on the field.

After his impressive performance, expect Chauncey to be selected early on. ESPN Senior Writer Todd McShay produced a 2019 mock draft, with this Gator going in the first round.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson became a household name in Gator Nation after his performance in the Outback Bowl as a true freshman, during the 2016 season. He was named as the Outback Bowl MVP for his standout performance that featured two interceptions. Chauncey was only the second true freshman in program history to win a bowl game’s Most Valuable Player award (Emmitt Smith was the first in 1987).

Many thought that the Gators had found an interception machine that would be unleashed the following season. Unfortunately, Gardener did not record an interception in 2017 until the final conference game against South Carolina in November. He followed it up with another impressive interception the following week, against UAB.

As a Junior in 2019, Chauncey was leaned on as a leader of the defense. He was moved to the Nickel CB position, an area that he excelled at. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham loved to be aggressive and brought pressure often. With the improved pass rush forcing poor decisions by quarterbacks, Chauncey made offenses pay for poor decisions.

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