Of all the programs in the Southeastern Conference, few have successfully managed the transfer portal as well as Dan Mullen’s Florida program.

Each season, the Gators have managed to add contributors via the transfer portal and Mullen is expecting the same after adding Penn State graduate transfer Antonio Shelton and Auburn graduate transfer Daquan Newkirk this offseason.

The necessity of those additions came, according to Florida’s head coach, after the team’s roster had a void in experienced players to plug the middle of the defensive line.

“If you look at those, we kinda have that gap where we have some really good young talent in the interior defensive linemen and we’ve had a bunch of guys over the last few years leave and walk out the door – and so there is this gap in the middle between the (upperclassmen and younger players on the defensive line),” Mullen said on Tuesday.

With Florida trying to find a way to replace Kyree Campbell’s production in the middle of Todd Grantham’s defense, Mullen suggested Shelton and Newkirk will be given every opportunity to fill the void left by Campbell’s departure for the NFL.

“You look at (Newkirk) and (Shelton) coming in, those guys have experience. One of the things that was huge for me, that I’m very pleased with, because you talk to them, you research them, you try to find out but until they are with you, you don’t know, is their leadership.

“They are both older, experienced players with maturity and they understood coming in that they are some of the older players in that group, in that meeting room and in that position unit. And so they are expected to have leadership qualities. They are not expected to come in and just act like the new guys. They have to learn the program and what it is fast but we have very high expectations for them and they’ve really shown that.”

Of course, the true test for Shelton and Newkirk will come when Florida begins spring practice this week in Gainesville, but so far so good according to the little Mullen has seen from his two graduate transfer linemen.

“The one thing, we haven’t been out on the field to see anything yet to see them that way, but one thing I’ve really been pleased with is their attitude,” Mullen added. “Their work ethic and the leadership they are bringing, the maturity they are bringing with the work ethic and preparation that we need to help show those young guys, continue to help those young guys continue to grow and see the right way to do things.

“We expect both of those guys to be huge contributors for us this year.”