Florida Gators

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Later Gators

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Recently it was announced that the Florida football program is under NCAA investigation, and yes, that investigation is still ongoing.

Moreover, the investigation started months before the NCAA sent a Notice of Inquiry to Florida President Ben Sasse back in June.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the investigation centers around the recruitment of four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada. He flipped from Miami to Florida on Nov. 10, 2022, after signing an NIL deal with the now-defunct Gator Collective for $13.85 million over four years.

The contract was terminated on Dec. 7, less than a month later. Rashada still signed early with UF but never enrolled last January and was released from his letter of intent after the NIL deal fell through.

He landed at Arizona State and opened last season as the starter, and only played three games due to injury.

According to sources, the NCAA investigation into Rashada’s recruitment involves Marcus Castro-Walker and Hugh Hathcock. Castro-Walker serves as the director of player engagement and NIL for the football program, while Hathcock a longtime UF donor pledged a record-setting $12.6 million to Gator Boosters in 2022 and has spearheaded Florida’s NIL efforts.

NCAA rules prohibit boosters from using NIL as an incentive or inducement to recruit high school or transfer players.

California became the first state to allow high school athletes to be paid through NIL contracts, so Rashada was legally allowed to sign with Gator Collective. The issue at hand, however, is when, how and by whom that deal was facilitated.

Florida recently came under NCAA investigation in 2020 under former coach Dan Mullen. The inquiry found two violations: a Level II violation with Mullen and an assistant- they met a recruit before his junior year of high school, as well as  a Level III violation involving members of the Gators’ coaching staff having impermissible contact with over 120 prospects when seven 7-on-7 football teams visited the campus and toured the football facilities.

The assistant coach had incidental and impermissible contacts with several prospects, according to the agreement.

Last May, the NCAA Board of Directors sent out a new guidance to its Division I member schools clarifying their NIL stance and prohibiting.

“The guidance is effective immediately,” the NCAA release stated. “For violations that occurred prior to May 9, 2022, the board directed the enforcement staff to review the facts of individual cases but to pursue only those actions that clearly are contrary to the published interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance. Schools are reminded of their obligation to report any potential violations through the traditional self-reporting process.


Today, the Division I Board of Directors took a significant first step to address some of the challenges and improper behaviors that exist in the name, image and likeness environment that may violate our long-established recruiting rules. While the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer, our focus is on the future. The new guidance establishes a common set of expectations for the Division I institutions moving forward, and the board expects all Division I institutions to follow our recruiting rules and operate within these reasonable expectations,” board chair Jere Morehead, president, University of Georgia, said in the statement

The NCAA is out to make a statement, but a toothless statement, because they are so afraid of a lawsuit and court date. Is Rashada going to haunt the Florida Football?

Gritty Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s crazy to think that Florida has not been a national title contender in quite some time.

The last time the Gators won the national championship was 2008. The following year, they finished the regular season undefeated but lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Somehow, their decline coincided with Nick Saban taking over in Tuscaloosa.

After Urban Meyer left in 2010 there has been a revolving door of head coaches. Billy Napier was hired in 2022 and so far, his record is just above .500. He is only in his second season but some fans are wondering if he is the right man for the job.

I actually think he is. I also think it would create a bigger problem for the program if he were fired after this season.

A coach needs some time to establish a winning culture and recruit. Napier coached at Louisiana for four seasons prior to arriving in Gainesville and his record was 40 – 12. He had double-digit wins the last three seasons.

It is tough to watch rival Georgia in the same division win back-to-back national championships while UF is struggling to be bowl eligible.

So far, I think the season has gone well for the Gators. They are 5 – 2 heading into the Georgia game so they are on track to have a good season. They have a chance to upset some teams the last half of the season, starting with UGA.

Coach Napier spoke about some of these things during the bye week. He was asked about how Georgia tight end Brock Bowers’ ankle injury will affect Florida’s preparation:

“Yeah, we’re in the middle of the open date now. We’re working on ourselves. We’re obviously right in the middle of evaluating what we do well and the things we need to do better. We’ll start commenting on Georgia and work on Georgia later in the week.”

Running back Montrell Johnson played for Coach Napier at Louisiana and was named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year (2021). He transferred to Florida last season once Napier took the job and he is one of the best players on offense. He leads the team in rushing and he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Coach Napier spoke about Johnson’s progression:

“Montrell is one of the more impressive young men we have. Obviously he’s physically talented. More importantly, he’s got really good practice habits. He’s tough, he’s durable, he’s smart. He can catch, he can protect. He’s been very productive. The guy’s over 2,000 yards now in his career. He’s been with us, this will be Year 3. I think Montrell wants to please; he wants to have success; he works as hard as anybody; and he’s a selfless guy. So anytime we ask him to block he does a fantastic job. I think one of the things you gotta do is try to get the ball to your players that are explosive and capable. Sometimes that will require the running back to be a blocker and Montrell has done that really well.”

Trevor Etienne is right behind him in rushing and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

Florida is outmatched against Georgia but I think they will play hard and make it a close game. Their final three games of the season are at #19 LSU, at #20 Mizzou and #4 Florida State. I think they will beat at least one of those teams.


Killing Time

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Here is the main question in my mind and it is one that Florida does not have a great track record of.

Will Florida be patient and allow Billy Napier to build the Florida program the right way?

Florida was one of the founding members of the SEC in 1933. It took the Gators 58 years to win their first SEC Football Championship in 1991. UF has won 8 SEC Football Championships overall and none since 2008.

It has been 15 years since Florida has won anything of significance in football. In the same time frame the Gators have had 5 head football coaches. Doing the math Florida hires and fires head football coaches every three years.

Billy Napier inherited a culture problem at UF that he has been working to improve since he walked on campus.

SEC coaches privately tell reporters that Florida has consistently been one of the most undisciplined teams in the conference over the past 5 seasons.

Napier has addressed the culture issue, and a sample size of results are known. The Tennessee win at home earlier this season was a huge positive for the program.

The Kentucky and Utah games were nightmares that show that the culture Napier is developing still struggles with dealing with adversity.

Florida is still a work in progress. Look at UGA early in Kirby’s tenure with ugly losses at home against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, and an ugly road loss to Ole Miss. Recruiting will fix all of that.

I heard Steve Spurrier say recently that Florida needed to recruit their way out the current situation they are in. Billy Napier is tearing it up on the recruiting trail. Florida’s 2024 recruiting class is currently ranked 4th in the country.

The 2024 recruiting class has addressed the following positions to date:


Quarterback (1)

Running Back (1)

Receiver (4)

Offensive Line (4)

Defensive Line (4)

Linebacker (3)

Defensive Back (4)

Florida is recruiting on a national level with committed recruits from 8 states. UF is a national brand and Napier knows this and is using it to his advantage.

Moving forward the Gators must lock down the state of Florida better moving forward as only seven of the Gators 21 commits come from the Sunshine State.

The glaring weakness of Florida right now is on the lines of scrimmage. The SEC is an inside out conference meaning you build your team along the lines of scrimmage.

Kentucky exposed that when Florida traveled to Lexington. Napier knows his long-term success in Gainesville will depend on how he recruits and develops offensive and defensive linemen.

Florida whipped Tennessee on both fronts in that big win. Just the opposite with Kentucky. The Utah loss was a fluke in my eyes. Florida fans are loud and vocal bunch on social media after ugly losses like the one against Kentucky.

The Gator fanbase is a passionate bunch and the toxicity of social media doesn’t help on the recruiting side of things.

Florida expects SEC and National Titles. Things got off track over the past 15 years, and now Billy Napier is on track to fix it.

He is recruiting well, and that will fix a multitude of issues. Napier says winning is hard in media sessions. Winning is hard at Florida when you have a train track littered with poor coaching hires.

Now Napier is fixing the recruiting woes, and the Gator nation just needs to be patient for about two more recruiting cycles and Florida will be back among the elites of college football.

Time is a precious commodity, and patience and trust in Billy Napier will reap championship benefits for the Florida Gators. Time and patience Gator fans. Will you allow it?

House Of Horrors

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Neither team is in the top 10. In fact, only one of them is ranked. There are no Heisman favorites playing. But make no mistake, Saturday’s Florida Gators-Tennessee Vols game at the Swamp is big. Always expect a sellout crowd.

Tennessee looks to win back-to-back games over Florida in the rivalry for the first time since 2003-2004 and to win in The Swamp for the first time since 2003.

The Vols are coming off an exciting 38-33 win over the Gators at Neyland Stadium a season ago, a victory that sparked the 11-win campaign.

Josh Heupel’s bunch looked out of sorts against Austin Peay last week, thus getting back on track and having proper communication is key as this matchup will be the first true road game of the season for the Big Orange.

It’s a massive game for both parties involved. The contest will be the ‘tempo setter’ for the Vols and the first challenge ahead of a grueling SEC schedule.

For the Gators, this is a critical rivalry game with Billy Napier, this is the biggest game in his coaching career. Both squads are trying to find themselves early in the season, but the game slows down for no one.

Florida is eager to make a statement under Napier. They want to show that they’re going to take a step forward in Napier’s second season. Beating Tennessee, especially after losing to the Vols last season, would certainly send a message that Florida is moving in the right direction under Napier.

For Tennessee, the Florida game is the first real obstacle in their quest for a SEC East division title. With Georgia looking like a good bet to run the table until their late November matchup with the Vols, Tennessee knows that a loss to Florida on Saturday in the Swamp will make winning an SEC East title significantly tougher, if not impossible.

Through two games, this typically high flying Tennessee offense—or more specifically the passing game element of that offense—hasn’t been racking up the explosive plays like fans are accustomed to seeing.

Heupel understands that there’s frustration about Tennessee’s performance on Saturday in a game that most expected would be well in hand by halftime.

The Vols are running the ball great at the moment, averaging 6.1 yards per carry on the season. The aforementioned SEC-worst 6.67 yards per passing attempt is holding the offense back.

Tennessee is converting just 32% on third down, which ranks 13th in the SEC. That’s also a concern but the Vols haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of defenses in the first two weeks.

Florida has potential to surprise people this season but could struggle to reach bowl eligibility.

I side more so with the latter. I am not a believer in Graham Mertz and don’t see Florida having a good pass rush.

The receiver’s youth won’t help Mertz, and shaky offensive line play will prevent Florida’s run game from reaching its potential. With that, the Swamp will impact The Vols offense. That should go without saying.

Gainesville is a house of horrors for Tennessee, no question about it. And if there is one must-win game for the Gators in 2023, it’s Tennessee.

With the game being in week three, Florida needs to set the tone for the rest of their season.

Florida 27    Tennessee 24

Gator Kickoff Preview

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida Gators open their 2023 season Thursday at Utah, the second matchup of their home-and-home series with the back-to-back Pac 12 champions.

UF upset the No.7 Utes last year in The Swamp, 29-26, as Billy Napier became the school’s first coach to defeat a ranked team in his debut.

Here are three key matchups in this year’s game between the Utah offense and Florida’s defense:

New UF defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong is going to bring the house against Cam Rising. One of Armstrong’s trademarks as the Southern Miss DC was getting after the quarterback.

Rising tore his ACL on Jan. 1 in the team’s Rose Bowl loss to Penn State and he didn’t participate in 11-on-11 drills during fall camp. He’s still expected to play and listed him as the starter on its Week 1 depth chart.

The Utes allowed just 15.0 sacks last season, which ranked No. 20 nationally. They return three offensive line starters and a fourth player who made two starts in 2022.

Rising also threw for 216 yards at Florida last season, with tight end Brent Kuithe accounting for almost half of them.

Kuithe suffered a torn ACL last season on Sept. 24 against Arizona State. He was limited in fall camp but should be greenlit for the opener.

The Gators must do a better job defending Kuithe on Thursday, luckily they have a few more coverage options to throw at him this time around.

In addition to Rising, Florida was also torched by Tavion Thomas on the ground. The former Utah running back rushed 115 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in The Swamp. Not a good look.

It must have been foreshadowing, because The Utes finished with the No. 11 rushing offense in the FBS at 217.6 yards per game, while Florida’s rushing defense ranked 100th nationally.

Utah returns two backs in sophomore Ja ‘Quinden Jackson and junior Micah Bernard, both of whom eclipsed 500 yards rushing last season.

Bernard had 106 carries for 533 yards and four touchdowns, while Jackson rushed 78 times for 531 yards and nine TDs. Jackson has been named Utah’s starting running back in this mean rotation.

The Gators lost four full-time starters from last year’s offensive line and the status of redshirt junior center Kingsley Eguakun is in question.

They may return with all new guys if Eguakun isn’t cleared. Regardless of who starts , it will be key for the Gator Offensive Line to handle the road environment well and assist redshirt junior quarterback Graham Mertz in getting settled.

The Gators boast one of the best tailback tandems, junior Montrell Johnson Jr and sophomore Trevor Etienne aka TNT.

They will be featured much more in this year’s Utah matchup. It’s going to take a heavy dose of Etienne and Johnson for Florida to win this game.

That will be easier said than done against the Utes and their No. 18 national rank in rushing defense. They allowed only 111.23 yards per game.

Utah ranked No. 1 in the Pac 12 and tied for eighth nationally in sacks last season, registering 41.0 total sacks to average 2.39 per game.

The Gators didn’t give up any sacks last year’s game. If Mertz can handle Utah’s  pressures and the O-line protects him, the Gators have a great shot. But this year I don’t think a shot will be enough to take this one home.

Utah 31 Florida 20

Gator Bait

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Here are my predictions for Florida’s W-L record in 2023, with the % chances for a Gator win in parentheses — according to ESPN matchup predictor..

Aug. 31, at Utah (29.7% chance):

A lot of this depends on Cam Rising. Even if he’s healthy, what will he look like in his first game back from surgery? The Florida defense will have to keep the Gators in the game, and I think they will. But it still looks like a loss. (Utah)

Sept. 9, McNeese State (99% chance):

The Gators get a cupcake game for their home opener after having to wait five weeks for one in 2022. (Florida)

Sept. 16, Tennessee (51.7% chance)

This week-three matchup is the one that could either generate significant momentum or place Gator Nation down in the dumps. The last time the Vols won in The Swamp, most of the players on the field hadn’t been born yet. I’m not buying the Joe Milton hype right now. (Florida)

Sept. 23, Charlotte (96.3% chance)

The second cupcake game of the season. It gets real after this. (Florida)

Sept. 30, at Kentucky (48.4% chance)

The hope for the Gators is that the offensive line won’t commit eight false starts again in Lexington, and Graham Mertz will take care of the ball better than A.R. did last year.

At this point in the season, younger players on the roster will be stepping up and making an impact. (Florida)

Oct. 7, Vanderbilt (90.4% chance)

This won’t be a repeat of 2022. The Gators should never lose to Vanderbilt on the football field, and they’ll correct that in 2023. (Florida)

Oct. 14, at South Carolina (58.9% chance)

The Gamecocks bring back Spencer Rattler, which has them getting more hype than they deserve this offseason. If the Gators want to record a statement road victory against South Carolina, they will need to take control of the football and make the most of their possessions. That starts at the quarterback position with Graham Mertz. (South Carolina)

Oct. 28, Georgia (13.8% chance)

For me, Georgia is a much better team. Coming off back-to-back national championships, Georgia’s defense is going to be scary. Florida doesn’t have the roster to compete with the Bulldogs. (Georgia)

Nov. 4, Arkansas (66.2% chance)

Arkansas is on the rise under Sam Pittman and they continue to upgrade their roster.

This game could go either way and should be a close one til the end, but playing at the Swamp could be the difference maker. The Swamp will be packed with recruits wanting to see the black uniforms, and the Gators cannot bring them out and lose. (Florida)

Nov. 11, at LSU (18.5% chance)

The Gators kept pace in this rivalry game, but Jayden Daniels and the Tigers will be too much to handle in Death Valley. (LSU)

Nov. 18, at Missouri (58.1% chance)

I will say this … I have seen Florida lose this game. Late in the season, likely a noon (11 am local) kickoff. It will be early, cold, and mostly empty in the other Columbia. Sandwiched between LSU and FSU, this has trap written all over it. (Florida)

Nov. 25, FSU (50.3% chance)

Florida State comes into The Swamp as a College Football Playoff contender. This year’s home matchup against FSU is a tossup due to the emotion of the game and Florida being at home.

The Seminoles are the more talented program right now, but that’s not always the deciding factor in a rivalry match. (FSU)

Frankly, the schedule is a bear. Mertz isn’t a great quarterback but the offense isn’t the real problem. It’s the Defense! 

If  Florida’s Defense doesn’t improve this season, the Gators will struggle to win 6 games and they won’t have a season to be proud of.

Florida Heat

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Billy Napier is entering his second season as the head ball coach in Gainesville and he’s already on the hot seat. Is that fair or do Florida fans have unrealistic expectations?

Napier went 6 – 7 in his first season. Anthony Richardson was his quarterback and he was the fourth player selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. This raises a question about the Gators.

Typically, when a team has a very talented quarterback they have more success. They started the 2022 season with an upset of #7 Utah but it was all downhill after that.

By comparison, last season was Brian Kelly’s first season at LSU. He led the Tigers to a 10 – 4 record. One of those wins came against UF. This success has led to a very solid recruiting class.

Hugh Freeze was hired by Auburn at the end of November and he got talented players to transfer to Auburn.

So far, Napier has not snagged a talented recruiting class. Fans have to wonder, why are coaches at other SEC schools having immediate recruiting results?

Napier knows Florida has a lot to prove and needs the fan base to understand patience is key under a new regime.

The fact that Georgia won two consecutive national championships has to add to the pressure. It does not look like Florida will be able to compete with them anytime soon. Tennessee won eleven games last season, so they are also stiff competition.

Georgia has the No. 1 recruiting class of 2024 and Tennessee’s class is ranked No.8. The Gators are currently sitting at 11th, which is not bad. That is lower than the top two teams in the SEC East though.

Napier did speak about future success.

“We’re going to be successful here, it’s just a matter of how fast it’s going to happen, that’s what I would tell you. I would be hopeful it would happen faster than fast, quickly, but reality is it may take us a little bit of time to get it done. We’re going to have to get … the ball’s got to bounce the right way here or there. Think about last year, we lost five games by essentially by one score. If we could play a little bit better at the end of the half, beginning of of the third quarter, play a little better on defense in terms of giving up explosive plays. There’s a number of variables that we weren’t good at all. Third down defense, red zone offense, lot of areas on our team where we know we sucked. It is what is. We did a lot of things great. We created a lot of explosive plays.”

If they get off to a slow start this season he’ll be in trouble. They do open the season at #14 Utah.


Roll The Dice

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s easy to talk a General Manager into drafting Anthony Richardson, easy to see that size, speed, strength and weigh the undeniable singularity of his physical abilities and not get intoxicated at what could be.

It’s easy to turn on tape and convince yourself that with the right coaching and the right system, there’s no way this man — this freakish talent who’s all of 20 years old — won’t grow into a weapon that’ll scare the living hell out of NFL defensive coordinators for an awfully long time.

In Richardson’s case, he has about everything: He can make every throw. He can run through an entire defense. There are no limitations on where he can put the football, or what he can do when he tucks it away and scampers from the pocket.

Richardson’s far from a polished prospect, arriving on the doorstep of this spring’s draft with serious questions about whether he can win at the pro level from the pocket (a must in today’s league).

Remember, the Combine isn’t real football. The pro day, either. They are scripted, controlled, routes-on-air. It happens almost every spring, a quarterback catapulting up the draft boards largely because of what could be, not necessarily because of their previous fall.

Potential can be expensive, even if it doesn’t work out.

Who has been more physically gifted than him? Andrew Luck? Richardson has a more gifted arm and is much faster. Cam Newton is taller, but Anthony is much faster and with a more dynamic arm. Josh Allen is bigger, but their arms are similar, and Josh is not even close to as fast.

Physically, Richardson has the traits of becoming a game-changing weapon, a player who defenses fear, a quarterback who can lift a mediocre supporting cast and give you a chance every Sunday.

His passing numbers weren’t tremendous for a first-round quarterback prospect: 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions, a worrisome 53.8 completion percentage (he did add nine rushing touchdowns).

But he cut his turnovers down over the second half of the season — his TD-to-interception ratio was 12-to-2 over his final six starts. That shows he grew increasingly comfortable in the pocket and his decision-making reflected that.

Richardson’s receivers dropped a large number of catchable balls. If you really dig into the film, Richardson has more downfield accuracy than what’s assumed.

He certainly must tighten up his mechanics, his footwork, and his presence in the pocket, but it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of encouraging signs he can get better from behind center.

And again, Richardson’s only 20 years old. This is important. He has so much growth ahead of him. One can only wonder what he would’ve done with another year at Florida, how many of the draft concerns he could have eased.

It’s officially draft week, and the Colts — picking fourth — need a quarterback. Most of the speculation has come down to two passers: Florida’s Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

But a recent curveball is gaining steam: what if Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud makes it past the Texans at No. 2? It would change the discussion, widening the Colts’ debate from two QBs to three.

Elite quarterbacks dominate the NFL and will for the foreseeable future. Mahomes. Allen. Burrow, Herbert, Hurts. Jackson.

Mediocre isn’t going to cut it. Teams need a playmaker if they want a winning chance, and it’s time to gamble.

Bet on your coach and see if you can climb back into the mix. It’ll take time to mature, but it’s a High Risk-High Reward wager. High rollers welcome!

You’re Fired

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida Gators football team began their second spring practice under head coach Billy Napier last week.

With new players and coaching staff, there are many storylines and position battles to watch this spring.

The Gators have big questions in a lot of position groups entering spring practice. Who will replace Anthony Richardson at QB is a huge question mark.

Florida lost all three starters from 2022 at linebacker, who steps up there? Questions abound across the board with this program.

Here is the main question in my mind and it is one that Florida does not have a great track record in regards to. Will Florida be patient and allow Billy Napier to build this program the right way?

Florida was one of the founding members of the SEC in 1933. It took Florida 58 years for them to win their first SEC Football Championship in 1991. Florida has won 8 SEC Football Championships overall and none since 2008.

It has been 15 years since Florida has won anything of significance in football. In the same time frame Florida has had 5 head football coaches. Doing the math Florida hires and fires head football coaches every three years.

Florida is never going to be successful again until they give a coach a chance to build a program.

Napier went 40-12 at Louisiana in four years prior to taking the Florida job, which included a 7-7 season in year one.

Florida is a huge step up from the Sun Belt Conference, and in many ways Florida was in much worse shape than Louisiana was when Napier took over.

Napier had to improve his overall talent at UL which he did, but that isn’t the case at Florida.

Florida always has elite talent in football. Did you watch Anthony Richardson at the NFL Combine put up the best performance for a QB ever?

Talent is not and never has been an issue at The University of Florida. Vince Dooley used to say that Florida was the most talented team in the SEC annually when he coached at UGA from 1964-1988. Dooley’s teams went 17-7-1 against more talented UF football teams during his tenure.

Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990 and he came in with his innovative offensive mind and made Florida the best football program in the SEC while going 122-27-1 in a 12-year run that is the best in school history.

During that window Florida won 6 SEC Championships and a national title in 1996.

Urban Meyer came in and recruited Tim Tebow and won national titles in 2006 and 2008.

My point is that Florida’s entire football history is compressed into a 19-year window from 1990-2008. Other than that Florida football has been nothing special.

Billy Napier inherited a culture problem at UF that he has been working to improve since he walked on campus.

SEC coaches privately tell reporters that Florida has consistently been one of the most undisciplined teams in the conference over the past 5 seasons.

I believe Napier is the right man for the job in Gainesville. He just had a top 15 recruiting class and hit the transfer portal hard to address position groups like LB and QB.

Florida just opened an $85 million dollar football facility last summer that is state of the art.

The money, talent, and facilities are in place for Billy Napier to get UF back among the elite programs in the country.

Napier needs time to fix the culture and build the type of program that all associated with the University of Florida will be proud of. Billy Napier is the right man for the job at UF.

Will Florida give him the time needed to accomplish? Back-to-back 6-7 seasons while UGA is winning back-to-back National Championships makes the Gator nation impatient.

They must realize that it took Kirby 6 years to build Georgia into that status. Florida will not be elite anytime soon unless they stop firing head football coaches every 3 years.

Prospect AR15

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson, one of the hottest and most difficult-to-sort prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, has every athletic trait I can think of.

At 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds, Richardson has a missile launcher for a right arm. He’s expected to flirt with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He’s even got a big, bright, Draft Day smile.

Richardson will be covered relentlessly for the remainder of the draft cycle, because the football world knows so little about him (and he has incredible skills). He made just 13 starts in college and threw fewer than 400 career passes. Teams will want to know more about his personality, football IQ and leadership.

Somewhere along the way scouts and coaches will learn that Richardson is a prospect who has been waiting a lifetime for this opportunity. Right now, he appears to be the most interesting man in today’s draft cycle.

In his only season as a starter, Richardson completed just 53.8% of his passes for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also rushed for 649 yards and 9 touchdowns.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has Richardson going ninth overall to the Carolina Panthers in his latest mock draft.

From a draft perspective, the most pressing question on Richardson is; how high does his stock rise before late April?

Overall, reactions to Richardson’s pros and cons are mixed, but his ceiling is higher than any quarterback in this class.

When people watch his film, they’ll find the times where Richardson struggled (early 2022), where he progressed and where he improved as the season wore on. Is he closer to being ready than some think? I believe he is

Many wonder if Richardson will be a first-round pick. To me, the actual mystery is whether Richardson will climb into the top 10.

“The questions about his readiness are valid and his game needs refinement” is what pro quarterback coaches will say. On the other hand, offensive coordinators are gonna say, “Give me Anthony Richardson. I’ll give you a quarterback in two or three years who will win BIG.” That to me is a big-time look ahead. It’s a leap of faith in talent.

Physically, he is the most talented quarterback in this class, but he’s not developed yet. He’s not ready. Carolina needs an NFL ready quarterback.

Why not take a shot? In order to have success in this league, you’ve got to have a quarterback. Anthony Richardson has a chance to be a star or you could wind up drafting another quarterback in a year or two. That’s the most fascinating part about him.

Whether he goes to the Panthers or elsewhere, Richardson’s development will be interesting to follow over the next couple of seasons. He might need some time, and picking him before he blossoms could end up paying off in a big way.

So, he might stand as too big a challenge for a franchise without a foundation. For one with ground underneath it and a willingness to develop a QB, though? Richardson could be the lottery ticket it’s always wanted.

Anthony Richardson is an incredibly talented yet unproven prospect, with a heart the size of his frame. For NFL programs, he’s a guy who can either make your draft or break your heart.

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