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Florida loses top 2 receivers, 3 backups for FSU game

Injuries deliver a big hit for the Gators, with little to no depth at the position for Friday’s matchup against the No. 16 Seminoles.
Florida receiver Xzavier Henderson takes off for a touchdown during the second half against Georgia on Oct. 29 in Jacksonville.
Florida receiver Xzavier Henderson takes off for a touchdown during the second half against Georgia on Oct. 29 in Jacksonville. [ HYOSUB SHIN / AJC | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]
Published Nov. 24

GAINESVILLE — Florida will be without five receivers, including Anthony Richardson’s top two targets, when the Gators play at No. 16 Florida State on Friday night.

Coach Billy Napier on Wednesday ruled out leading receiver Xzavier Henderson and second-leading receiver Justin Shorter along with backups Ja’Quavion Fraziars, Marcus Burke and Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman.

Ricky Pearsall was listed as questionable, but Napier expects the Arizona State transfer to be cleared Thursday to play against the Seminoles (8-3).

“We’ve been in this situation in the past,” Napier said. “There’s been parts of our team every week throughout the season where we’ve had a handful of guys banged up.

“It’s a great opportunity for those players, and we’ve got great stories from different times of the year. ... Next guy up and certainly excited to watch some of these guys play.”

Caleb Douglas, Pearsall and Daejon Reynolds were listed as projected starters on the Gators’ weekly depth chart. Reynolds made the most of an increased role last weekend at Vanderbilt, finishing with eight catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-24 loss.

Reynolds has 11 catches for 244 yards on the season. Douglas has eight receptions for 150 yards and two scores. Pearsall has caught 24 passes for 448 yards and three TDs. But there’s little, if any, depth behind them.

“There’s no question they’re very capable,” Napier said. “The way we practice, all the players on our team get multiple opportunities throughout (organized team activities) in the summer, training camp. You know it helps you build depth on your team so you can survive some of these situations.”

Henderson and Shorter have been the Gators’ big-play receivers all season. Henderson has 38 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Shorter has 29 receptions for 577 yards and two scores.

Florida (6-5) does not disclose the exact nature of injuries, only saying upper or lower body. Henderson and Shorter both have lower-body injuries. Pearsall, Fraziars, Burke and Chiaokhiao-Bowman have upper-body issues.

By MARK LONG

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