Three Key Position Battles for Spring

Quarterback: Probably the most anticipated battle for this spring would be the quarterback position. Last season the team totaled 3,304 passing yards, with 27 passing touchdowns and 19 interceptions.


Favorite to start (IMO*): Anthony Richardson is the presumptive favorite with the way he finished the season against FSU, and the brilliance he showed in moments last year. He is an explosive athlete that can get it done through the air and on the ground, totaling 930 yards on the season with nine total touchdowns in limited action. He averaged 7.9 YPC last year, and that is great to see when you consider that Napier’s offense will utilize the QB position in the run game while using that success to set up shots through the air. The key for him will be consistency and health.


He has shown that he has the intangibles to play at a high level, and that was evident in his second-half performance against LSU. If he can limit the turnovers and find a way to stay healthy throughout the season, I believe he has a chance to be one of the very best in the country. Richardson finished last season with 529 yards through the air to the tune of six passing touchdowns and five interceptions and a 59.4 completion percentage. He saw action in just seven games.


Contenders


Emory Jones: Emory Jones had his ups and downs last season, but he is a really solid athlete with a strong arm and good speed as a runner. His skill set fits Napier’s offense and he has plenty of SEC experience. He will have to show this spring that he can limit turnovers and improve going through his progressions without getting locked on to one receiver. He’s a solid veteran option, and hopefully, Napier can get the most out of him if he chooses to stay at UF. He finished last season with 2,734 yards 19 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 64.7 completion percentage, playing in all 13 games.


Jack Miller: Jack Miller was a really good addition to the QB room. The Ohio State transfer has a good arm, great size, and has shown solid mobility in limited action. He could end up pushing for the starting job with a good spring performance. Miller has only played in five games through two seasons with 101 yards on 14 attempts completing 7 of them.


Carlos Del Rio-Wilson: In my opinion Del Rio-Wilson is the only other realistic option here, with the rest of the room being freshmen and walk-ons. The redshirt freshman didn’t make an appearance in any game last season, but he has a lot of talent. He has a big arm, which was on display during his stellar performance at the Elite 11 finals just before his senior year. He has good size at 6-foot-2 228 pounds, and is an underrated athlete as well as a very strong runner, it will be interesting to see what he can do under Napier.


Running back: The running back position was the strength of the offense last season, but both Pierce and Davis are gone. Florida finished the season ranked 23rd in rushing offense, which really says something when they were ranked in the top 10 earlier in the year. Florida returns a combined 1,288 yards and 13 touchdowns from the 2021 season.


Favorite to start: At this moment I would say that Montrell Johnson would be the favorite to start. He has great speed, evidenced by his 99-yard touchdown run against Arkansas State. On film, he shows really good strength and balance as a freshman, which will only improve as he progresses through the strength and conditioning program. Transferring over from Louisiana he has a lot of familiarity with the staff and is a proven commodity. Granted, the jump in competition from the Sun Belt to the SEC is not a small one, but he is a very talented player and would not be on the roster if the staff was not confident in his ability to play on that level. Johnson finished last season with 838 yards rushing, 12 TDs, and won Freshman of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference.


Contenders


Demarkcus Bowman: Fan favorite Demarkcus Bowman also has a really good chance to be the starter by the time the season rolls around. He’s a player who has not gotten a lot of action so far in his collegiate career, but when he does, you see flashes of his massive potential. Napier and his offense might be exactly what he needs to unlock it. Bowman appeared in four games last season, with 81 yards on 14 carries, averaging 5.8 YPC.


Nay’quan Wright: The most experienced of the group, Wright is coming off of a lower-body injury that will limit him this spring. When he is healthy, however, he is a dangerous weapon not only as a running back but as a pass-catcher as well. In his career, he has 34 receptions for 401 yards and a touchdown, with two receptions of 50 yards or more. It’s always good to have a dynamic player like him in the backfield and he could be in for a breakout year, should he be able to fully recover from his injury. He finished last season with 326 rushing yards, on 76 attempts, averaging 4.3 YPC, playing in 12 games.


CB2: Jason Marshall is the next in line to hold the ‘DBU’ mantle, but who will be his running mate? Florida has some talented and intriguing options when it comes to who will be starting alongside him.


Favorite to start: Jalen Kimber would be my favorite to start at this point. The Georgia transfer was projected to start for them last fall before suffering an injury. He was a high four-star recruit coming out of high school in 2020 and has great size, speed, and overall potential. Corey Raymond prioritized him once he entered the portal, and it will be interesting to see what he can do this spring. In his career he has appeared in three games, totaling three tackles.


Contenders


Jaydon Hill: Hill would be my pick to start if he was not coming off an injury. He probably should have been starting opposite of Elam back in the 2020, and would have been the starter in 2021 if he didn’t get injured just before the season got underway. He’s not only an experienced player but a talented one. He’s shown that he is adept in press coverage and will be asked to do that a lot in this new defense. He has appeared in 15 games in his career with 25 total tackles, 10 passes defended, and no picks.


Avery Helm: Helm is a player who was very inconsistent last season. He had moments where you could see his natural ability on display, but then had some lackluster moments where he would give up big plays and be picked on by the opposing offense. Like some of the other players I’ve mentioned, the key for him will also be consistency. He is 6-foot-2 with a 40-inch vertical, and a sub 4.4 40. He has all the raw tools to be successful, and I think Coach Raymond can get the most out of him. He appeared in eight games last season, totaling 23 tackles, four passes defended, and no picks.


Kamar Wilcoxson: What may seem like a dark-horse candidate, Wilcoxson is like Helm, where he has a lot of physical tools to work with. He was a low four-star recruit in the 2020 class, but I believe he will outplay that ranking. He is listed at 6-foot-2, with a verified sub 4.5 40. He suffered a knee injury prior to last season but recently announced that he has been medically cleared. Should he be at full strength this spring he could make a real push for that CB2 spot or even another spot in the secondary. He appeared in two games in the 2020 season, totaling three tackles, and one interception that was called back.


Feature Photo Credit: Courtney Culbreath / UAA Communications USA TODAY Sports

40 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All