The Florida Gators’ football roster is nothing like what Billy Napier inherited
The roster the Florida Gators bring to Utah for next season’s opener will be almost completely unrecognizable from the one Billy Napier inherited 13 months ago.
It’s been clear for months, but the closing of the transfer gate on Wednesday allowed us to quantify the makeover underway in Gainesville.
Only Texas A&M (27), Arkansas (27) and Mississippi (25) have lost more players to the portal this cycle than the Gators (23), according to recruiting site On3. And that’s just a wave of departures.
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The Gators’ roster listed 109 players for their 2021 SEC Finals at Missouri — UF’s last game under Dan Mullen. Of these 109, more have exited through the transfer portal (38) than are left (37). Exclude walk-ons, and the holdover count drops to 27. None are quarterbacks.
Quarterback Emory Jones and offensive lineman Ethan White have both been multi-year contributors for the Gators. Both entered the transfer portal. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP (2021) ]
Attrition is more pronounced at the top of the list. Of the 59 players who participated in Missouri, 22 went to the portal; 15 remain.
The only starters in this game who haven’t gone are defensive back Jason Marshall and offensive linemen Kingsley Eguakun and Richie Leonard. Eight transferred, while a ninth, safety Rashad Torrence, made the somewhat surprising decision to declare himself for the NFL Draft after three college seasons.
These figures may be incomplete. A second portal window opens after spring practice, creating the possibility of additional starts.
Attrition is an inevitable part of college football, as rosters change every four or five years as players work through their eligibility. Every team loses transfers.
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But the turnover rate in Florida has been exceptionally high. It’s not inherently bad. As players began to come out in November, Napier noted that many of them wanted to contribute more elsewhere.
“There’s nothing wrong with that…” Napier said then. “Attrition is healthy to some degree.”
Florida coach Billy Napier said attrition can be healthy for a program. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP (2022) ]
The roster Napier inherited suffered from a 6-6 regular season, so some attrition is needed to freshen up a dressing room that lacked elite talent. ESPN’s national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said last month that new Florida staff needed to determine which holdovers belonged in the rebuilding process and which did not. It was the same in Miami, where 19 ACC players entered the portal this cycle.
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“Part of the recruiting process for them was identifying in their own roster who’s on board and who’s not,” Luginbill said. “Who are the workers and who are the guys looking for the exit? Who are the guys who are going to buy what we do? Once you have identified this, you need to move in another direction.
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And when you move in another direction, you get more spots on the roster. The Gators’ pick will ultimately determine whether that attrition was healthy. Can transfers of incoming offensive tackles Damieon George (Alabama) and Micah Mazzccua (Baylor) replace outgoing starters Michael Tarquin (USC) and Ethan White? Five defensive backs who were on the depth chart in the season finale against Florida State left for Power Five schools. Have the Gators been upgraded?
We’ll wait to answer for now; return after the traditional February signing day and spring transfer window. Until then, it’s too early to tell if the Gators’ 2023 roster will be significantly better or worse than the one Napier inherited from Mullen.
We only know that it will be different. Very different.
Transfer follow-upNay’Quan Wright is transferred from Florida to USF. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times (2022) ]Florida
Outgoing players: 23
Notable additions: Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz, Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell
Notable losses: Offensive lineman Ethan White (not yet committed), defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson (Missouri)
state of florida
Outgoing players: 13
Notable additions: South Carolina tight end Jaheim Bell, Virginia defensive back Fentrell Cypress
Notable Losses: Defensive back Sam McCall (Texas A&M), running back Treshaun Ward (Kansas State)
Outgoing players: 14
Notable additions: Tennessee offensive lineman RJ Perry, Florida running back Nay’Quan Wright
Notable losses: running back Brian Battie (Auburn), receiver Jimmy Horn (Colorado)
Outgoing players: 19
Notable additions: Alabama offensive lineman Javion Cohen, Washington State linebacker Francisco Mauigoa
Notable losses: top-notch quarterback Jake Garcia (uncommitted), defensive lineman Darrell Jackson (FSU)
Outgoing players: 12
Notable additions: Alabama offensive lineman Amari Kight, USF quarterback Timmy McClain
Notable losses: Quarterback Mikey Keene (Fresno State), defensive back Davonte Brown (Miami)
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