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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Florida football position preview: Quarterback

Anthony Richardson leads a young quarterback room under new head coach Billy Napier

<p>Quarterback Anthony Richardson scrambles to his right versus South Florida Sept. 11, 2021. Richardson will lead the Florida quarterback room this season, while the depth behind him is questionable.  </p>

Quarterback Anthony Richardson scrambles to his right versus South Florida Sept. 11, 2021. Richardson will lead the Florida quarterback room this season, while the depth behind him is questionable.

New Florida football head coach Billy Napier is a quarterbacks’ coach. The former signal caller at Furman University has spent a majority of his coaching career teaching the position he played. 

With the Gators, Napier will call plays and work with the quarterbacks. The crop of players he and offensive assistant Ryan O’Hara inherit this season is an interesting mix of potential and questions under center. 

Everything for Florida revolves around Anthony Richardson. The Gainesville product is among the most promising quarterback prospects in the nation, with many outlets projecting the 6-foot-4-inch redshirt sophomore as a top-10 pick in next year’s NFL draft.

Richardson played seven games last season, producing some dazzling glimpses of promise while battling through injury and growing pains. He threw for more than 500 yards and six touchdowns. Some of his flashiest plays came running the ball, however, and he added another 400 yards and three scores on the ground. 

For all the highlight reel runs or impressive passes, Richardson had his struggles. He shined against Florida Atlantic and South Florida, but a serious hamstring injury kept him out of action for several weeks. Richardson also struggled with turnovers, throwing five interceptions, including two costly picks against the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Under Napier and O’Hara’s guidance, the Eastside High School alum could be poised for a true breakout season. His rare blend of high-level athleticism and soft passing touch make him arguably one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the nation. 

Behind Richardson, things are more uncertain than ever.

Two quarterbacks from last year’s roster transferred out of the program this offseason,.Former starter Emory Jones headed off to Arizona State and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson joined Syracuse. The Gators brought in Ohio State transfer Jack Miller to compete with and provide backup for Richardson, however Miller is now going to miss significant time after undergoing thumb surgery, per the Orlando Sentinel.

Without Miller, the likely backup will be redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna. 

Kitna, the son of longtime NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, has yet to play a snap of collegiate action. True freshman Max Brown, who was a late recruiting addition to this season’s roster, will also compete for the backup position this fall. He had a dominant senior high school season at Lincoln Christian High School in Oklahoma, throwing 41 touchdown passes and running in another 20 scores.

Napier and his staff have yet to formally name a starting quarterback, but all signs point to Richardson leading the Gators this fall. Without Miller backing him up, however, things could get rocky for Florida given Richardson’s questionable injury history.

This isn’t a quarterback room with a proven star or leader like Kyle Trask, but it’s a young and talented group capable of massive development under the new coaching staff. If Richardson makes good on his high upside, the Gators could be a dangerous team this season. 

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The Gators open their 2022 campaign with a Sept. 3 matchup against the No. 7 Utah Utes in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Contact Topher Adams at tadams@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @Topher_Adams.

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.


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