20/23 for 2023: Jackson’s wide open path to playing time

20/23 for 2023

by Inside the Gators Staff

The summer is flying by and the Florida Gators 2023 campaign is approaching quickly. As the players and coaches prepare for their August 31 kickoff against Utah, here at Inside the Gators we take stock of the roster to break down our list of “20/23” players for the 2023 season.

It will go like this: the 20 most valuable returning players and then the 23 most valuable incoming players who have yet to appear for the Gators. These are not necessarily the best players but the most valuable in relation to the team having a successful 2023 season.

Cam Parker and Mark Wheeler made their lists, combined them, and here’s how the final tally worked out (points in parenthesis).

This 10-part series will take a look at two returning players along with two new players in each edition. 


No. 20-RICHIE LEONARD (4-points)

  • Position: Offensive Guard
  • Class: Junior
  • Size: 6-foot-2, 317-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Leonard won’t be the most important offensive linemen on the field, but wherever he plays at whatever spot on the depth chart, he will play an integral part to keeping the lineman group full. I could see him starting opposite of Micah Mazzccua at guard, where he played during spring. However, the emergence of Knijeah Harris and return of Mazzccua could put him at a sixth-man role. I’m high on him for his experience and ability to play both guard and center, but I am unsure if he will start. (Voted: No. 18)

On the Mark: Entering his fourth season on campus, Leonard has two starts in 19 games. However, his true value is that he can play any three of the interior line positions – which greatly bolster’s depth along the line. In our Behind-the-Scenes Spring Recap, our insider, who attended almost all the practices from start to finish, speculated that if Micah Mazzccua is healthy enough at the start of fall camp, it could allow Knijeah Harris to slide over and compete with Leonard for a starting spot. (Voted: No. 20)

Related: The Inside Scoop: In-depth spring review


  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-3, 216-pounds

Cam’s Comment: To me, Jackson is an interesting case. The walk-on was recently placed on scholarship for spring and summer and has an opportunity to earn a full-ride. Teammates have even boasted him as being one of the best receivers on the team. However, he doesn’t have a lot of playing time. I don’t expect him to start, especially with the talented freshmen class and Ricky Pearsall returning, but I am excited to see what he can do with more playing time as a backup. Who knows? He may start by the end of the season if all goes well. (Voted: Unranked)

On the Mark: Jackson has been a practice and scrimmage standout for a couple of years now, but finally saw some game action last year hauling in 2 catches for 43-yards. With the departure of three of the top four in pass receptions from last season, there is a clear path to playing time for Jackson. (Voted: No. 16)

Related: Parental Perspective: Kahleil carrying on the Jackson family Florida legacy


(TIE) No. 23-TREYAUN WEBB (3-points)

  • Position: Running Back
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 5-foot-11, 205-pounds

Cam’s Comment:  It’s hard to judge Webb’s role just yet. Billy Napier has made it clear that he isn’t afraid to play true freshmen, but Webb walks into an already established duo in Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne. Not to mention, Tulane transfer Cam Carroll was brought in, too. I’m high on Webb as the future of the running back room, as this could be Johnson’s final season, but I’m not high on him for the 2023 season, at least right now. (Voted: Unranked)

On the Mark: Webb started to come on during the second half of the spring, but there are just so many capable backs in front of him it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he sees much action. Then, add in the post-spring arrival of Ja’Kobi Jackson, who arrives with college experience, and that likely limits Webb’s playing time even more. His biggest contribution this coming season will likely be in mop-up duty during blow-outs. (Voted: No. 21)

(TIE) No. 23-WILL NORMAN (3-points)

  • Position: Defensive Tackle
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-4, 282-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Florida’s lack of depth at the defensive line spot cost them frequently last season. For that reason, the staff went all out to beef up the front line, which includes early enrollee Norman. I’m excited to see what he can do purely because this defensive line finally has depth. I don’t expect him to start, but having another big body on the depth chart creates opportunities for everyone without over-exhausting them. (Voted: No. 23)

On the Mark: He has the size (I would bet he is a good 15-pounds heavier than his listed weight) and has been a workout warrior since arriving on campus. Our Spring Insider told us that he is a competitor, but needs to take coaching better. He has the tools, and the rest should come with age and maturity. If he continues to progress throughout the summer and fall camp he should be a rotational player this season good for a handful of snaps a game. (Voted: No. 22)

Related: The Inside Scoop: In-depth spring review

No. 21-KAMRAN JAMES (4-points)

  • Position: Defensive Line
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-6, 268-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Like Norman, I’m excited to see what James can do as a depth piece in 2023. Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr.’s transfer opens up an opportunity for edge rushers, but it’s hard to judge James’ specific role with veterans like Princely Umanmielen, Tyreak Sapp and Justus Boone in the room. Not to mention, the Gators also have TJ Searcy and Kelby Collins. I would put him in the same boat as Webb – critical to the future of the position group, but maybe not specifically critical to 2023. That being said, having depth is never a bad thing, and he could prove me wrong. (Voted: No. 20)

On the Mark: Because of how well he moves for his size, coming in he had a huge upside, and that’s still the case. The issue is, even today, regardless of his listed weight, he doesn’t look to be SEC ready at this point. I would guess it’s going to take another offseason, and a good 25-30 pounds before we start to see what he is truly capable of doing. (Voted: Unranked)

Go to discussion...

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  1. Outside of Pearsall we don\'t have any receivers who have done anything in a game. Burke, Douglas and Jackson are all players who made like 5 catches with better receivers around them. If they draw the other teams top 2 or 3 CB can they get open and do anything?

    The talented WR are young and we have Mertz throwing the ball.

    I\'m thinking we might be in trouble.
  2. Burke is more important than some realize. He has the speed and the route skills of a more mature player. He will draw double coverage, which will equal single coverage on a couple of other receivers who could also be trouble like Eugene Wilson who will likely line up in the slot. When you watch him in space, you'll think Toney is back. Micah Mazzccua and Cam Carrol may be the most important additions to the offense. They are both huge and Carrol and Etienne may both draw more carries than Johnson or Webb. Mazzccua was talked about in spring as another Torrence. UF's offense will have more to work with than many think, and Mertz may surprise most. He's in the right kind of offense and with the right coach for him to do well, for the first time in his college career.
  3. I wasn't there, but an article I was reading back in early spring right after Carrol showed up in camp said he was good enough to move up the depth chart, which is a pretty talented and proven depth chart. I can't remember the exact words but the jist of it was that he was already #3 on the chart and would likely move up. Suffice to say he impressed the staff and other players. The UF RB room is stronger and deeper than some realize.

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