Early Entry Review: Lagway embarks on promising future

Florida's quarterback of the future will play early

by Alyssa Britton-Harr

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

Florida quarterback DJ Lagway, a five-star signee from Willis, Texas was initially offered by Florida in March of 2022, before committing to the Gators eight months later on December 7, 2022. Out of the 27 schools that reached out to Lagway with an offer, he chose the Florida Gators, and contrary to what many may believe, being a Gator has always been in the back of Lagway’s mind.

“DJ has always said from the jump the relationships he had with the coaches when they started recruiting him back at the end of his sophomore year was the one thing above anything else that got him to Florida,” Willis High School football coach Trent Miller said. “He has always loved Florida. The first time he played little league, he was a Gator, so I think he fell in love with it then, along with the coaching staff’s relationship with his family and the coaches at Willis.”

As he showed in the Orange & Blue Game, he has begun to show out on the field alongside established starting quarterback, redshirt senior Graham Mertz during the Gators’ 15 spring practices – while also adjusting to college life at just 18 years old.

“Like any freshman coming in the adjustment and acclimation it takes from the high school life to the college life being around 20-24 year young adults as a new guy on the set, I think he has handled it really well,” Miller said. “He came in with a lot of success and expectations for himself and the community in Gainesville, and he is so far ahead of his time.”

Before actually stepping foot on campus this spring, arriving as a five-star and ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation, Lagway has been seen as the savior of the program, a celebrity of sorts.

“In our town in Willis, towards the end of his career, he was treated more like a celebrity and the savior in our town,” Miller said. “He handles himself so well and professionally while keeping his head down and doing what he can do to improve himself and his teammates. Having to walk across campus and be seen in public while stopping to take photos and sign autographs is something that is new to him, but he is such a nice kid he doesn’t mind doing that.”

As Florida head coach Billy Napier closed out his second year with the Gators, there has been an emphasis on who can bring success to the team. The Gator Nation believes Lagway is the guy who can turn the program around. However, many factors weave into the game, from an established starter to a freshman. Understanding the game and the pace from high school to college will be an adjustment even for a five-star.

Heading into spring practices, there were some speed bumps regarding throwing picks and adjusting to being amongst other prominent collegiate athletes.

“He treats everything like a learning opportunity; we talked a few times about the speed of the game and how he’s got to adjust and acclimate to it,” Miller said. “Every time he faces a roadblock or an obstacle, he always comes out better because he’s determined to be perfect in everything he does.”

Any setback or bad day DJ endures, he takes it personally and builds off it, turning it into motivation to improve, Miller said.

Mertz and Lagway have formed an exceptional partnership, seamlessly switching between reps and receivers. As a seasoned vet, Mertz has taken Lagway under his wing, guiding him through the offseason and sharing his knowledge.

“They have a great relationship; he’s gone through the playbook with him and been a true professional from everything that DJ has told me from their interactions and friendship,” Miller said. “It’s not a competition, as many people say, but he has looked out for DJ every step of the way while he’s been on campus.”

Lagway, having been working with the team since January, has shown some changes regarding his weight and strength training. Before UF, the freshman measured in at 6-foot-3, 241-pounds. Now partaking in spring workouts, for someone who hasn’t seen him since January, we can see the physical change in his body, Miller said.

“He is a lot leaner, and it looks like he has gotten about two to three inches taller and is physically stronger,” Miller said. “The weight he was throwing up in the weight room would have been a high school record at Willis for his position had he still been here like a normal high school student, so he had made tremendous gains.”

The progress that Lagway has made on and off the field during spring has led to some speculation about his role during the upcoming season. He went on a tear during the spring game, getting his feet wet in the swamp, and his team (Orange) went on to lead for most of the game until the final moments when (Blue) kicked a winning field goal.

“He got in early, and the coaches controlled the game, letting him get acclimated to what’s going on inside the swamp, something he has never done before,” Miller said. “Towards the halfway point of the second quarter, they opened up a little bit and let him start throwing the ball around, and you see him take off there in the second and third quarters with the two touchdown passes.”

As an 18-year-old kid, the coaches didn’t want to feed him to the wolves, so they protected him. The way DJ kept his composure and drove the ten down the field was promising and the confidence he needed heading into the summer, Miller said.

Because he has a different skill-set from Mertz, Lagway will likely see the field this season.

“I can’t speak for Coach Napier and Coach [Ryan] O’Hara, but I do believe there are plans for him to play and play early,” Miller said. “I do think the plan is for him to play in every game this year in some capacity, whether it’s a small package or a small play series.”

Lagway has been working with several receivers who came in with him this spring and the offensive line who have been protecting him. He is truly excited with what’s going on at Florida and what his future looks like, Miller said.

Go to discussion...

Related Articles


  1. The one and only reason I have any faith in Billy Napier right now is he got DJ to commit and stay with us while he was rising up thw charts to be the best quarterback and we were losing games.

    If he would have been done with us I would have been done with Napier.
  2. Not to say I expect to win a championship but Mertz = Leak and Lagway = Tebow.
    There's no need to put that pressure on him. No one is equal to Tim Tebow until they show it in the Swamp.

    Let him be a freshman and do his thing and save the comparisons until later on.

Leave a comment

Please log in to your forum account to comment

Community platform by XenForo® © 2010-2022 XenForo Ltd. Style and add-ons by ThemeHouse