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Gators’ 2023 roster is nothing like what Billy Napier inherited

Only 3 schools lost more players to the portal this cycle than the Gators. And that’s still not the full picture of UF’s attrition.
Florida defensive back Tre'Vez Johnson is among the 23 Gators who entered the transfer portal this cycle.
Florida defensive back Tre'Vez Johnson is among the 23 Gators who entered the transfer portal this cycle. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jan. 19|Updated Jan. 19

The roster the Florida Gators will bring to Utah for next season’s opener will be almost completely unrecognizable from the one Billy Napier inherited 13 months ago.

That has been clear for months, but the closing of the transfer portal Wednesday gave us a chance to quantify the makeover underway in Gainesville.

Only Texas A&M (27), Arkansas (27) and Mississippi (25) lost more players to the portal this cycle than the Gators (23), according to recruiting site On3. And that’s only one wave of departures.

Related: 3 thoughts on what’s next for Florida Gators after Jaden Rashada fallout

The Gators’ roster listed 109 players for their 2021 SEC finale at Missouri — UF’s last game under Dan Mullen. Of those 109, more have exited via the transfer portal (38) than remain (37). Exclude walk-ons, and the number of holdovers drops to 27. None is a quarterback.

Quarterback Emory Jones and offensive lineman Ethan White were both multi-year contributors for the Gators. Both entered the transfer portal.
Quarterback Emory Jones and offensive lineman Ethan White were both multi-year contributors for the Gators. Both entered the transfer portal. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP (2021) ]

The attrition is most pronounced at the top of the roster. Of the 59 players who participated at Missouri, 22 went to the portal; 15 remain.

The only starters from that game who haven’t left are defensive back Jason Marshall and offensive linemen Kingsley Eguakun and Richie Leonard. Eight transferred, while a ninth, safety Rashad Torrence, made the somewhat surprising decision to declare for the NFL draft after three collegiate seasons.

There’s a chance these numbers are incomplete. A second portal window opens after spring practice, creating the possibility for additional departures.

Attrition is an unavoidable part of college football because rosters turn over every four or five years as players run through their eligibility. Every team loses transfers.

Related: Revisiting our college football predictions and 5 bold takes for 2023

But the turnover rate at Florida has been exceptionally high. That’s not inherently bad. As players began trickling out in November, Napier noted that many of them wanted to contribute more elsewhere.

“There’s nothing wrong with that…” Napier said then. “Attrition is healthy to some degree.”

Florida coach Billy Napier has said that attrition can be healthy for a program.
Florida coach Billy Napier has said that attrition can be healthy for a program. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP (2022) ]

The roster Napier inherited suffered through a 6-6 regular season, so some attrition is necessary to refresh a locker room that lacked elite talent. ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said last month that Florida’s new staff had to figure out which holdovers belonged in the rebuilding process and which ones didn’t. It was the same at Miami, which had an ACC-most 19 players enter the portal this cycle.

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“Part of the recruiting process for them was to identify within their own roster who’s on board and who’s not,” Luginbill said. “Who are the workers, and who are the guys that are looking for the way out? Who are the guys that are going to buy into what we’re doing? Once you identify that, you’ve got to move in another direction.”

Related: The grading curve is over for Billy Napier, Florida Gators

And when you move in another direction, you get more roster spots to fill. Who the Gators choose will ultimately determine whether this much attrition was healthy. Can incoming offensive tackle transfers Damieon George (Alabama) and Micah Mazzccua (Baylor) replace outgoing starters Michael Tarquin (USC) and Ethan White? Five defensive backs who were on the depth chart in the season finale against Florida State left for Power Five schools. Did the Gators upgrade?

We’ll hold off on answering for now; check back after the traditional February signing day and the spring transfer period. Until then, it’s too soon to know whether the Gators’ 2023 roster will be significantly better or worse than the one Napier inherited from Mullen.

We only know that it will be different. Very different.

Tracking transfers

Nay'Quan Wright is transferring from Florida to USF.
Nay'Quan Wright is transferring from Florida to USF. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times (2022) ]

Florida

Outgoing players: 23

Notable additions: Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz, Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell

Notable losses: Offensive lineman Ethan White (not yet committed), defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson (Missouri)

Florida State

Outgoing players: 13

Notable additions: South Carolina tight end Jaheim Bell, Virginia defensive back Fentrell Cypress

Notable losses: Defensive back Sam McCall (Texas A&M), running back Treshaun Ward (Kansas State)

USF

Outgoing players: 14

Notable additions: Tennessee offensive lineman RJ Perry, Florida running back Nay’Quan Wright

Notable losses: Running back Brian Battie (Auburn), receiver Jimmy Horn (Colorado)

Miami

Outgoing players: 19

Notable additions: Alabama offensive lineman Javion Cohen, Washington State linebacker Francisco Mauigoa

Notable losses: Blue-chip quarterback Jake Garcia (uncommitted), defensive lineman Darrell Jackson (FSU)

UCF

Outgoing players: 12

Notable additions: Alabama offensive lineman Amari Kight, USF quarterback Timmy McClain

Notable losses: Quarterback Mikey Keene (Fresno State), defensive back Davonte Brown (Miami)

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