20/23 for 2023: Eguakun leads a rebuilt line

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. 

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V
Part VI


No. 8-KINGSLEY EGUAKUN (26-points)

  • Position: Center
  • Class: Junior
  • Size: 6-foot-3, 302-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Eguakun brings veteran leadership for a relatively new offensive line. With 26 starts at center, Eguakun is the most experienced Gator offensive lineman and was the only one who started every game last season. Not even Austin Barber can say that. With three newcomers set to start, and Barber elevating his role, Eguakun will need to be the leader of the group as he looks to improve his draft stock.  (Voted No. 7)

On the Mark: It was expected that he would take the next step last season to become an All-SEC type of contributor, but on that scale, he actually fell back somewhat. However, he rebounded with a strong spring and has settled in as one of the team leaders. He will be counted on to continue that upward progression this season, and if he can build on what he did in 2021, he could be the best lineman on what looks to be a better-than-expected unit. (Voted No. 9)

No. 7-TREY SMACK (27-points)

  • Position: Kicker
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-1, 203-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Florida’s kicking game was abysmal at times last season, and Smack will look to be the one to change that. After handling kickoffs only last season, he finally got to show his field goal kicking in the spring, but his performance left a lot to be desired with two field goal misses. That being said, he hasn’t won the job as Adam Mihalek returns, but after his struggles, it may be best to start over with a new leg. It’s hard to predict whether he’ll improve the kicking game or not, but his performance will be crucial to putting confidence back into the special teams group. (Voted No. 9)

On the Mark: A sneak peek into what is currently the state of Florida football is that I had a punter and a kicker among the top 10 most valuable players on my ballot. Last season he mostly handled kickoff duties, where 18 of his 32 kickoffs were for a touchback. Walk-on Adam Mihalek was 14-of-21 attempting field goals last year, including an abysmal 6-of-11 from beyond 40-yards. Florida needs to improve that percentage, but Smack was only 1-of-3 in the spring game, including a miss from 24-yards out.  (Voted No. 7)


No. 8-KNIJEAH HARRIS (31-points)

  • Position: Offensive Line
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-3, 325-pounds

Cam’s Comment: Harris arguably benefitted the most from enrolling early out of all the newcomers. With Micah Mazzccua’s injury in spring, Harris earned early starting reps opposite Richie Leonard IV. Now, with Mazzccua set to return in the near future, Harris will enter a competition for the other guard spot with Leonard IV and could very well win the job. At the end of the day, it’s up to the coaches whether or not he starts, but he will be an extremely valuable piece of the offensive line rotation this year. (Voted No. 10)

On the Mark: From spring last year while he was still at IMG Academy through spring ball this year at Florida, there may not be a more improved player on the team. He came in basically as a plug-and-play at guard this spring and at the very least will be in the two-deep rotation this season, if he doesn’t win a starting job outright. (Voted No. 7)

No. 7-CALEB BANKS (34-points)

  • Position: Defensive Line
  • Class: Freshman
  • Size: 6-foot-6, 323-pounds

Cam’s Comment: One of the two transfer interior linemen, Banks will likely start right away with Cam’Ron Jackson. Combined with Jackson (6 feet 6 inches, 371 pounds) and Desmond Watson (6 feet 5 inches, 439 pounds), Banks (6 feet 6 inches, 323 pounds) helps create one of the largest defensive line rooms in the country with even better depth than last season. Not to mention, he’s only a redshirt freshman, so he’s extremely valuable to the future of the defense. (Voted No. 6)

On the Mark: On one hand, it feels like Florida is much improved along the line this season. On the other hand, a player who barely saw playing time at Louisville last year is being counted on to be a huge addition to the Gators’ defensive line. After a slow start in the spring, he came on in the second half to be one of the more dominant players on the defense. We’ll see how it carries over to the fall.  (Voted No. 8)

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  1. Its when you look at the quality and depth that's been recruited to UF's offensive and defensive line units that you realize how improved this roster is and most clearly see Billy Napier's fingerprints everywhere you look. He has always believed that the game's outcome is controlled by the play in the trenches. But then when you look at the RB room that shows at least a 3-back rotation and Webb's weight gains already arguing for a 4-deep RB rotation, you start to feel some optimism for this offense. Then you look at the likelihood that two of the fastest receivers in the 23 recruiting class could earn places in the WR and Slot rotation and you almost feel like UF could be a problem for anyone they play.

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