Xzavier Henderson on the final day of fall camp with Florida Gators football. Photo by Ellie Shreve.

Biggest Takeaways from Florida Football’s Final Day of Fall camp

The Florida Gators football team closed out fall camp on Tuesday. With fall camp and two scrimmages under their belt, the Gators will begin game-prep Thursday for their home-opener against Utah on Sept. 3.

Return of Ricky Pearsall

Tuesday marked the first day the media has seen Ricky Pearsall fully make his return to the practice field. The Arizona State transfer suffered two bone bruises to the metatarsal in his left foot on Aug. 9. The injury kept him confined to the sidelines at camp, working with the trainers. 

Pearsall returned to individual drills on Aug. 19 — day-13 of fall camp. Pearsall, however, did not fully participate until Tuesday. On the field, he executed crisp routes, impressive catches and sharp cutting.

While Pearsall is sure to add a spark to Florida’s receiving room this season, a few other receivers have stood out at fall camp as well. Trent Whittemore and Xzavier Henderson to name a few. These receivers have consistently showcased an impressive performance throughout the duration of camp. 

Justin Shorter has also been a strong receiver among the unit. Shorter, however, observed in a non-contact jersey since day-13 of fall camp. 

In addition, wide receiver Ja’Markis Weston has been limited in his participation during the past week at fall camp. On Tuesday, he got in reps during routes-on-air, remaining dressed in a non-contact jersey. Also, Marcus Burke returned to the field in a non-contact jersey after being limited to a stationary bike on the sidelines. 

Battle for Backup QB

While Gainesville native Anthony Richardson undoubtedly takes the starting quarterback role, the backup position is left undetermined. Jack Miller III was Florida’s first choice for the backup position.

“Jack had a thumb avulsion fracture which is the same surgery that Drew Brees had just a couple of years ago … we anticipate him missing — I’m going to say — the first two games and we’re hopeful we get him back for Week 3,” Florida Head Coach Billy Napier said. 

With Miller out for the foreseeable future, the Gators must decide upon a primary backup for Richardson. Napier has narrowed it down to redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna and redshirt sophomore walk-on Kyle Engel.

During Sunday’s media availability, Napier spoke highly of Kitna and Engel, confirming the competition will be between these two. 

During Tuesday’s viewing period, Richardson received praise from Napier after several throws. 


Tight Ends 

The tight ends spent the majority of Tuesday’s viewing period working with position coach William Peagler on blocking drills. Dante Zanders and Keon Zipperer led the unit, followed by Jonathan Odom and Nick Elksnis

Additionally, freshman tight end Arlis Boardingham was observed working with a trainer in the south end zone. Boardingham continued to wear a sling on his right arm. 

Running Backs

Redshirt sophomore Nay’Quan Wright took charge in the running back room. Montrell Johnson Jr. spoke on how Wright helps the unit and what it’s like having him as a leader.

“It’s great to have a guy like that in the running back room because he has a lot of experience, it’s only my second year so he gives me pointers, like how I can run the ball better and stuff like that”, Johnson shared. 

Johnson also had the following to say about freshman Trevor Etienne

Offensive Line 

The offensive line now has its starting five as starting left guard Ethan White made his full return to practice on Tuesday. While White was out, Josh Braun stepped in at his place. 

Additionally, offensive lineman David Conner was not observed at Tuesday’s viewing period, after having thumb surgery from a tear in his UCL.

Johnson spoke on the effort and progression he has seen from the offensive line since the spring. He added how the whole team has really improved during fall camp.

“We’re going to be good this year,” Johnson said.

When Johnson was asked about the offensive lineman that he’s seen the most growth in, he had the following to say. 


Outside linebacker Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr. returned to full participation at practice Tuesday. Meanwhile, inside linebacker Amari Burney was in a non-contact jersey, not participating. Fellow ILB Ventrell Miller still wore a non-contact jersey. Miller, however, continued to participate in drills without limitations. 

The ILB unit began the viewing period working with Jay Bateman on chute drills with a sled. The unit then transitioned to working on outside containment. 

Defensive Line

The defensive line unit began the viewing period working on a chute drill where the lineman maneuvered around a trash can representing an interior offensive lineman. Co-defensive coordinator and position coach Sean Spencer demanded perfection from the unit, asking several players to repeat reps until the drill was completed to his satisfaction.

Preseason Coaches All-SEC Honors 

Following Tuesday’s viewing period, the preseason coaches All-SEC honors were announced with five Gators earning honors. 

These Gators are expected to make a contribution to Florida’s performance on the field this season. 

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

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