Florida Secondary Spring Preview: A completely revamped secondary

Mar 1, 2023 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

The Florida Gators are preparing for year two under Billy Napier with plenty of questions to be answered after a disappointing 6-7 2022 season. The Gators will begin preparations for 2023 with spring practice, which kicks off on March 4. In anticipation, Inside the Gators takes a look at every position; who’s returning, what needs to be proven, and more.

Up today is the secondary. 

Main Participants

  • Jason Marshall Jr. (Corner)
  • Jaydon Hill (Corner)
  • Devin Moore (Corner)
  • Jalen Kimber (Corner)
  • Ethan Pouncey (Corner)
  • Ja’Keem Jackson (Corner)
  • Jadarrius Perkins (STAR)
  • Sharif Denson (STAR)
  • Miguel Mitchell (STAR/Safety)
  • Dakota Mitchell (STAR/Safety)
  • Kamari Wilson (Safety)
  • Jordan Castell (Safety)
  • Bryce Thorton (Safety)
  • Aaron Gates (Safety/Corner)

Out this spring

  • None

Arriving this summer

  • Dijon Johnson


  • Trey Dean III (Graduation, declared for NFL)
  • Rashad Torrence II (Declared for NFL)
  • Jordan Young (Transfer to Cincinnati)
  • Avery Helm (Transfer to TCU)
  • Donovan McMillan (Transfer to Pitt)
  • Tre’Vez Johnson (Transfer to Missouri)
  • Corey Collier Jr. (Transfer to Nebraska)
  • Kamar Wilcoxson (Transfer to Temple)
  • Cruz Rushing (Transfer to Arizona)

Key Question: Which freshman, if any, performs well enough in spring to earn a starting spot come fall?

It would be hard to argue that Florida’s haul of defensive back signees isn’t one of the best in the nation, including Dijon Johnson, who will not enroll until the summer. That being said, which of the five early enrollees makes an early case for potentially starting? Ja’Keem Jackson has an excellent opportunity at corner opposite of Jason Marshall Jr., but will have to compete with three returnees (Hill, Moore and Kimber) who saw the field plenty in 2022.

At STAR, Sharif Denson, who could also play outside depending on the Gators’ needs, only has Jadarrius Perkins in front of him. Safety will have the deepest rotation of freshmen with Jordan Castell, Bryce Thorton, and Aaron Gates, and there are no experienced vets in front of them.

Bonus Question: Will things change with Corey Raymond leading both position groups?

Last season, co-defensive coordinator and play caller Patrick Toney coached the safeties and STARs, while Raymond focused on the boundary corners. With Toney off to the NFL, and incoming DC Austin Armstrong not having a position group, Raymond will now coach the safeties and STARs. Obviously, this question won’t be answered until the season begins, but spring will at least be an early indication of what the dynamic of the room is with one coach leading the group.

Something to Prove: Jadarrius Perkins
After Tre’Vez Johnson’s transfer to Missouri, Perkins steps in as the most experienced player at the STAR position. This spring will be an early indication of whether or not he’s ready to take the reins as the starter. Not to mention, he’ll have a blue-chip early enrollee in Denson breathing down his neck for the spot. Additionally, Miguel Mitchell has experience at both safety and STAR and could very well play either. Overall, Perkins has a lot to prove of himself this spring while holding off the youngsters behind him.

He could surprise: Miguel Mitchell
After five departures in the safety room, Mitchell immediately becomes the second-most veteran in the room behind Kamari Wilson, despite splitting time between safety and STAR in limited playing time. With the only other scholarship safeties on the roster being early enrollees, and competition at STAR between Perkins and Denson, watch out for Mitchell as he gets comfortable in his role as a major contributor in the defensive back room.

Keep an eye out for: Devin Moore
Moore saw the field almost immediately in his freshman season, but a shoulder injury ended it right as it felt like he was about to fully break out. Now, he’s back and ready for more. As stated before, he’ll spend the spring competing for the starting spot opposite of Marshall Jr. but keep an eye on how he’s recovered from his shoulder injury and if he can take the next step in his development.

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