20/23 for 2023: The centerpiece of Florida’s defense

20/23 for 2023

by Inside the Gators Staff

Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators

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. 10-JEREMY CRAWSHAW (22-points)

  • Position: Punter
  • Class: Junior
  • Size: 6-foot-4, 197-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Florida’s special teams group, the “game-changers,” hardly changed games positively for the Gators last season. Crawshaw will look to change that as he is the most consistent of the group. He boasts a strong leg, but consistency will be key as he attempts to lead the group as the most-senior member and put opponents in bad field position.  (Voted No. 13)

On the Mark: The case can be made that Crawshaw was Florida’s best, most consistent performer last year. With all the uncertainty surrounding the offense, he may be called on to bail out some stalled and failed drives by pinning opponents inside their own 20 again this year. (Voted No. 6)

No. 9-SHEMAR JAMES (24-points)

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-1, 230-pounds

Cam’s Comment: A strong introduction in 2022 followed by a good spring likely means that James will start right away at inside linebacker. Really, the only question here is how will he do in an expanded role? As the second man in last year’s rotation, he was able to make the All-SEC Freshman team and was sixth on the team in total tackles (47). I expect that number to increase in his full-time starter role as he attempts to spark the long-struggling defense.  (Voted No. 8)

On the Mark: This is the first time in the countdown that I am seriously rethinking my vote. James is probably more valuable than I gave him credit for on my ballot. With all these new big bodies in front of him this year, it should allow him to avoid more blocks and make even more of an impact. (Voted No. 10)


No. 10-AIDAN MIZELL (27-points)

  • Position: Receiver
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-2, 167-pounds

Cam’s Comment: One of three freshman receivers on the team, Mizell arguably boasts the fastest speed of the group, and maybe even on the team. A brief concern was the fact that an injury kept him out for most of his senior season, but spring showed that he is healthy and ready to go. I expect him to be a rotational guy on the outside as it seems that Andy Jean has passed him on the depth chart and Ricky Pearsall will be splitting time on the outside and in the slot.  (Voted No. 12)

On the Mark: This is a prime example of how uncertain the outlook is for the offense this year. I believe an undersized true freshman is a Top 10 most valuable player. To put it bluntly, the receiver group needs a major infusion of speed after years of Dan Mullen emphasizing size over speed. If Florida can’t hit a couple of deep balls to keep opposing defenses honest, they’ll be able to creep up closer to the line and focus on shutting down the run. If that happens, it could get ugly. (Voted No. 9)

No. 9-TERADJA MITCHELL (28-points)

  • Position: Linebacker
  • Class: Senior
  • Size: 6-foot-2, 244-pounds

Cam’s Comment: At the beginning of spring, I expected Mitchell would be a starter, but after the emergences of Scooby Williams and Shemar James, I am wary of keeping that expectation. That being said, he has one thing that the rest of the group doesn’t have- extended experience. He’ll take on the Ventrell Miller-like leadership role while providing depth.  (Voted No. 7)

On the Mark: Pre-spring I would have maybe placed him a couple of spots higher, but with the way Shemar James and Scooby Williams played, they look like they are the starting linebackers. Mitchell will however play a role. He fills the experience and leadership void left by Ventrell Miller‘s departure. And, he is a thumper who has value in short-yardage situations. (Voted No. 13)

Go to discussion...

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  1. I would add Eugene Wilson to the incoming offensive list. He has blown up in the weight-room and very quickly, and his speed and ankle-breaking open field moves are sensational. In the Utah game I expect to see all the speed players on UF's. roster on the field. Their kind of track-speed is impossible to adjust too. I doubt Utah has anyone on their roster with the speed of Mizell, Wilson, or Andy Jean, and the effect of that level of speed is to make everyone else look, and feel, slow. Its demoralizing. Remember Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps? Chris Rainey? World-class speed is stunning to watch and horrifying to try to stop. Mizell and Jean have more straight-line speed, but when you watch Wilson in the open field, I promise you'll think of Barry Sanders.

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