20/23 for 2023: Boone set for a break out season

20/23 for 2023

by Inside the Gators Staff
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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. 12-JUSTUS BOONE (19-points)

  • Position: Edge
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-4, 263-pounds

Cam’s Comment: The positive for Boone is experience as Antwaun Powell-Ryland Jr.’s transfer left the Gators limited in experience on the outside. He had a good 2022, where he even earned his first start, but lost that after a breakout midseason performance by Princely Umanmielen, who seems to have locked up one edge rushing spot. Boone will be in the rotation, but it’s a question of where he’ll be. Kelby Collins is poised for early playing time, and there’s also early enrollee TJ Searcy and veteran Tyreak Sapp in the room. I don’t expect a massive breakout season for Boone, but he should be a solid contributor and will help keep the rotation fresh. (Voted No. 11)

On the Mark: He has gotten great practice reviews in the past but hasn’t been able to put it all together for an extended period of time in his first two seasons in Gainesville. This feels like his opportunity to make an impact as Florida’s defensive identity turns to being more aggressive. We could see this roster of edge rushers line up anywhere along the front seven and bring pressure from different angles and levels – freeing up someone to come free. (Voted No. 12)

No. 11-CHRIS MCCLELLAN (21-points)

  • Position: Defensive Line
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-3, 325-pounds

Cam’s Comment: After being thrust into the rotation as a true freshman, 2022 was a good start for McClellan to get reps, especially since there was little-to-no depth on the defensive line. With Gervon Dexter gone, the Gators welcomed two experienced transfers in Caleb Banks and Cam’Ron Jackson, so I don’t expect McClellan to start. That being said, if he can find a way to improve from his 23-tackle, 1.5-sacks total last season, it’ll be a huge stepping stone in his development. I expect him to do so as his role increases this season. (Voted No. 10)

On the Mark: Without a doubt the biggest surprise along the line last season, where in a few games he outperformed a couple of Florida defensive linemen who received more publicity and accolades. This season he will be one of 5-7 players who could rotate in and out among the two interior positions. That type of depth should enable all of them to remain fresh into the fourth quarter, and capable of taking over a game. (Voted No. 11)


No. 12-MANNIE NUNNERY (23-points)

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Class: Junior
  • Size: 6-foot-1, 231-pounds

Cam’s Comment:  In my eyes, Nunnery may be the most underrated transfer in the SEC. Not only does he provide experience and may be a starter at linebacker, but he also gives the Gators an impact player on special teams as he was the National Special Teams Player of the Year in 2021. He’s blocked two punts and three kicks in his career, which is something the Gators have frankly been terrible at over the last few years. Even if he doesn’t start on defense, his impact should be felt immediately on the field. (Voted No. 15)

On the Mark: I don’t believe he will supplant either of the spring starters (Shemar James and Scooby Wilson) or even move ahead of the top backups. However, I do believe he will be an impact on special teams, where Florida had anything but game-changing plays last year. (Voted No. 10)

No. 11-KELBY COLLINS (26-points)

  • Position: Edge
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-4, 272-pounds

Cam’s Comment:  If you had to pick one early enrollee whose stock rose after spring, Kelby Collins would certainly be in the conversation in my eyes. He already boasts a good size at 6-feet, 4-inches, and 272 pounds, and he showed good traits at defensive end with five tackles and constant pressure in the spring game. With Princely Umanmielen all but locking up one EDGE side and a couple of veterans still on the team, Collins may not start immediately, but I expect an impact from him early and often. (Voted No. 11)

On the Mark: Collins arrived on campus as Florida’s top overall ranked signee in the Class of 2023 and then backed that up by being voted as having the second-best spring by our two practice insiders. It is easy to see what they like, he not only has SEC ready size for a lineman, but he is one of the hardest-working true freshmen on the team. He won’t start, but he will be in the rotation from the jump. (Voted No. 11)

Related: Reranking the Early Entry Freshmen Post Spring Practice

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