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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Florida football stacking days and battling injuries as season opener looms

Head coach Billy Napier and players spoke on the team's status prior to the regular season

<p>A Florida football helmet, pictured during a game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4, 2021.</p>

A Florida football helmet, pictured during a game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4, 2021.

Defensive back coach Corey Raymond is one of the crown jewels of head coach Billy Napier’s first staff at the University of Florida. The longtime Louisiana State defensive backs coach is already making a huge impact with the Gators’ young secondary. 

“[Raymond] definitely helped me elevate my game,” redshirt freshman cornerback Jordan Young said. “He’s on us about the little details and the little things.”

Young also said Raymond has emphasized “stacking days” and maximizing every moment of every practice. That mentality is driving the Gators under Napier and company as the first season of this new era inches closer.

With the season opener against the No. 7 Utah Utes just weeks away, anticipation is ratcheting up, especially after the team announced single game tickets for the opener have already sold out.

“[Selling out] obviously speaks to the history, the tradition here and certainly the excitement, and we're very thankful for the support,” Napier said. “We all know that this is going to be a team effort. Certainly game day gives the fans an opportunity to be a part of the team.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson drew plenty of praise, but Napier also noted there’s plenty more for Richardson to learn in his first season as a full-time starter.

“I think [Richardson’s] bright, he's got character and does all the things that you would want a quarterback to do,” Napier said. “The guy’s really an inexperienced player. I know we all want to put a crown on his head, I think the guy’s completed 33 passes in his career, right? The great quarterbacks at the University of Florida complete 33 in one game, so I think we've got work to do.”

Napier confirmed quarterback Jack Miller’s thumb injury, and he said the hope is the Ohio State transfer will be available by week three following recovery. Napier said there’s an open competition for the backup role, with redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna and redshirt sophomore Kyle Engel leading the chase.

“Both those guys are really smart and have a good understanding of what we do and have moved the team,” Napier said.

Several other Gators are also dealing with knocks as the season opener approaches. Napier said Arizona State transfer wide receiver Ricky Pearsall and cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. are to be back in practice this week after battling minor injuries during camp. 

“Both are very common injuries and things that just take a little time,” Napier said. “We're just waiting on the performance team and the training room and strength conditioning to make a decision and they're ready to go.”

Junior guard Ethan White is also dealing with an injury, but Napier said it’s just a minor setback. Freshman lineman David Conner, however, could miss significant time with a more serious injury according to Napier. 

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Florida finishes fall camp this week and will officially turn the page to week one preparation Thursday. The Gators will host the top-10 Utes at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

Contact Topher Adams at 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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