Ricky Pearsall Jr. joined Sport Scene Wednesday to talk about his decision to stay in The Swamp for the 2023 season instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.
The junior wide receiver was a key piece in the Gators offense last season after transferring from Arizona State. He set career highs in his first year at Florida, catching 33 passes with five touchdowns for a total of 661 yards. Pearsall was also a speedy weapon on the ground with 113 yards and a touchdown.
Return to the Swamp
After quarterback Anthony Richardson decided to declare for the NFL draft and the recent drama of 4-star recruit Jaden Rashada, the Gator Nation was fearful in losing the leading receiver. However, Pearsall announced via Twitter on Jan. 14 that he would be returning for his final season of eligibility to finish the job.
Pearsall credits his relationship with head coach Napier in being the deciding factor in his return.
He also mentioned how wide receiver coach Keary Colbert played a role in his decision. Pearsall said both him and Colbert “speak the same language” when talking about the position.
Regarding NIL, Pearsall recently resigned with Gator Collective. The Gator Collective has focused on compensating current Gators rather than incoming players, and Pearsall’s starting slot warrants the increased attention he’s getting.
Wide Receiver Room
This offseason was tough for Gators receivers. Redshirt sophomore Trent Whittemore and redshirt freshman Daejon Reynolds entered the transfer portal while redshirt junior Justin Shorter declared for the NFL Draft in December.
However, Xzavier Henderson will be returning with Pearsall. Henderson started at wide receiver in 11 games with 38 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns.
With some room for more players, the Gators signed three wide receivers in the 2023 recruiting class, including a 4-star and the No. 92 overall player in the class, Aidan Mizell. Joining him will be Eugene Wilson III, the No. 147 overall prospect, and Andy Jean.
Pearsall said he’s excited to get to work with the returning and incoming receivers.