Redshirt Report: Developing speed into a more complete package

Class of 2023 Redshirt Report

by Joseph Torviso
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Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators

Inside the Gators will be taking a look at Florida’s true freshmen players who redshirted in 2023, getting an idea of what their experiences were like by speaking with those closest to them. Up today is redshirt freshman wide receiver Aidan Mizell.

Mizell attended Boone High School in Orlando, Fla. He was rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN, On3, 247 Sports and Rivals. In the Class of 2023, On3 listed him as the No. 11 wide receiver, the No. 16 player in the state, and the No. 70 player overall.

As a true freshman, Mizell played two games for the Gators. He made his debut against McNeese on Sept. 9, recording two catches for 25 yards. He also took the field against South Carolina in Oct.

“He is genetically built from the toes up to play football,” said Wil Mizell, Aidan’s father. “That kid has lived, eaten and breathed football since probably 3 or four years old. Before he could talk, he would be glued to the tv screen if there was football.”

Wil, 44, is a former Gator himself. He competed in track and field alongside Aidan’s mother. He isn’t a football guy himself, but he has been there for his son every step of the way.

“I had to talk [Aidan] out of football until he was in seventh grade,” he said. “He only played one year of football before he played high school. There’s a lot of wiggle room for him to get really good really fast.”

It’s safe to say that the Mizell’s are happy that their son is a Gator, but they did not push Aidan to make that choice. The relationships he built with the Florida coaching staff as he was getting recruited is what made him choose to represent the Orange and Blue.

“He was very, very tight with coach [Keary] Colbert,” Wil said. “He kind of saw coach Colbert as a guy he can grow under, he related to him really well. And coach Napier… is extremely relatable. He is so assured of himself and what he is doing and how he can get it done. I think that sold Aidan a lot.”

Mr. Mizell added that these relationships are what drive most people. Aidan just so happened to relate, trust, and build strong relationships with the Florida staff.

The receiver started at UF last spring. He graduated high school early and began working on his craft. Mizell was a bit rusty though as he was coming off a knee injury, he got on the first game of his senior season at Boone.

“Literally, first play senior year,” his father recalled. “He was jumping out of the way to avoid a tackler, but the tackler kind of hit his helmet on the side of his knee. He didn’t have any major damage, we had MRIs twice. There wasn’t anything substantial, nothing that involved surgery. It was just rehab and rest.”

Aidan also had to get used to the intense workload that was set by his coaches.

“Once you get into a concentrated environment where everybody is just as good… I think is a shock to a lot of kids,” Wil said. “He was no exception. I would say overwhelmed is the wrong word, but he didn’t expect the full capacity of what I was warning him about.”

This past fall though, the receiver stepped it up. Standing at 6’2, 182 lbs., he has physically matured and is the most explosive receiver on this Florida team.

“He looks like he can’t move a lot of weight, but he can,” Wil said. “They have parameters as far as numbers that they produce for force… to figure out where they are at power development wise, and he usually is always leading the team when it comes to power development. Which is funny because when you look at him you would probably think he’s one of the last guys to do it, but he’s the best one at it.”

Although Aidan didn’t play much last season, he still put in the work. The freshman receiver soaked up all the knowledge he could from his coaches, and listened to the advice the veterans in the wide receiver room gave him.

Ricky Pearsall all the way down,” Wil said. “Kahleil Jackson, Caleb Douglas, Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman, who’s gone now. All those guys that are older than him, have been in the system in one shape or form. These are the do’s and don’ts. These are the things you need to work on. And kind of normalizing the struggle.”

Going into Spring, Mizel is the fastest returning receiver in the depth chart. Speed isn’t everything though. His father told him that if he worked on getting into space, his quarterback would always find him.

“A lot of kids that are naturally blessed with speed, technique wise you can be lacking a little bit,” Wil said. “That was his deficit. He wasn’t fully up on the technique of getting into space. If you can get into space, you can get the ball.”

Aidan reminds his father of players like DeVonta Smith and Allen Iverson. They may not be physically impressive to the naked eye, but they are massively athletic. These players aren’t physical specimens, but they let their performances speak for themselves.

Wil loves how hard his son has worked this past year. He says his conversation with coach David Doeker always brings a smile across his face. The graduate assistant coach told Wil that he wasn’t really impressed with Aidan when he first got there. Doeker didn’t really see what coach Napier and some of the guys were so excited about when he signed. All Mizell had done was lift weights, but once he got on the field coach was blown away.

“Coach Doeker is real,” Wil laughed. “He will tell you what you need to hear regardless of if you want to hear it. He [said Aidan] can do things with his body that he shouldn’t be able to do. The change, the stop, the cut at his age is impressive.”

Coach Billy Gonzales also told Wil that Aidan needed to get stronger when he first stepped foot on campus. The receiver did just that.

“Now they’ve gone from ‘man he’s so fast’ to how much better he’s gotten as a receiver. The physicality, all those tools were already there. Now, they feel like he’s finally really dialing in those abilities to that position.”

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