Florida coach Billy Napier talks to players during the NCAA college football team's practice Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Gators Football Kickstarts Spring Season

The juices were flowing and the energy was high as the Gators kickoff the spring season Saturday. Head coach Billy Napier led the Gators onto the practice field for their first practice this spring season before the inaugural Orange and Blue game.

After a full offseason and recruiting cycle under his belt, it would seem Napier’s imprint onto this program will be on full display sooner rather than later. The second year head coach has racked up a Top 15 recruiting class with an additional 10 players in the transfer portal.


However, the abundance of departures from the 2022 roster will be a chance for new faces and talent to come to the forefront and make a sizable jump in playing time this year.

The team’s first spring session ahead of the 2023 football season came with answers waiting to be desired as expectations are imminent after an active offseason and a 6-7 2022 season. Napier mentioned the teams mindset heading into year two.

Of course, the whopping uncertainty regarding the state of the Gators quarterback situation looms many minds. Especially, as NFL scouts continue to be more enamored day by day with mystery of former Florida gun slinger Anthony Richardson. The next single caller for Napier’s offense surely have some shoes to fill.

Florida Gators Quarterback Situation

Saturday, media members were present as they received a brief glimpse of fifth-year senior Graham Mertz in helmets. Mertz, as it stands today, is expected to become the starter for the Gators season opener against Utah. The former Wisconsin Badger has significantly more playing experience compared to other quarterbacks on the depth chart.

Sophomore Jack Miller and redshirt Max Brown are deemed to back up Mertz this season. Well, too many that would be consensus thinking. But, Napier’s approach will be all about competition for all position groups including in the quarterback.

During skill development and individual drills, Mertz showcased his arm strength and accuracy. He was able to connected with wideouts Ricky Pearsall and  Xavier Henderson 

Defensive Coordinator Austin Armstrong

Newly promoted first year defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong spent Saturday’s practice overseeing the safeties. Corey Raymond was seen working with cornerbacks during the media viewing period.

Armstrong is taking over the role left by Patrick Toney, whom took the chance to take a defensive back coaching role with the Arizona Cardinals. Napier said he has confidence in the coaching tree he has developed, which played a prominent role to promote Armstrong.

The 29-year old defensive coordinator is the youngest at this position among all schools in the Power 5. The former Southern Mississippi defensive coordinator spent two seasons under Napier at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2018 and 2020. Armstrong will look to improve the Gators defensive struggles, especially on third and fourth downs.

Saturdays practice was the first installment of Armstrong’s lead of the defensive unit for Florida. Sophomore safety Kamari Wilson, who is expected to be a major factor under Armstrong’s defense, was limited at practice as he was seen wearing a non-contact jersey.

Florida will have their second practice Tuesday.

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