It’s Miller time – Napier names transfer quarterback bowl game starter

Dec 8, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

On Thursday, Florida Gators head football coach Billy Napier met with the media via Zoom to preview the team’s matchup with No. 14 Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17 as well as provide some insight into other storylines within the program.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • After an entire season of speculation, Anthony Richardson revealed his plans for 2023. Florida’s starting quarterback will enter the NFL Draft and will not play in the bowl game. Napier explained that Richardson made a ton of progress both on and off the field this season in a leadership role as well as “football intelligence.” He added that there was positive feedback for the redshirt sophomore, and while it can be a gray-area decision, Richardson sees an opportunity. “He’s going to work extremely hard to solidify his position in the draft and, you know, [he] did a lot for the Gators, man,” Napier said. “You know, and certainly proud of him as a person and the way he went about his business and represented this place.”
  • Last week, the news of Jalen Kitna’s arrest shocked Gator Nation due to the timing of the arrest and the nature of his crimes. Napier briefly discussed the situation and how the team is moving on, saying the situation was sad and tragic for everyone involved. “Certainly, we’ve done everything we can do to help our players and staff. But as you said here, there’s some things that come with that,” he said. “We’re turning the page and moving forward.” He added that he learned of the arrest and allegations “mid-morning the day that it all went down, literally as it was happening.”
  • With Kitna now off the team and Richardson declaring for the NFL Draft, Florida will turn to Ohio State transfer Jack Miller III at quarterback, who Napier confirmed would start. Miller III began the season on the injury report with a thumb injury that needed surgery, but Napier said he’s been able to take reps in practice for the past few weeks. “He has been participating in practice for a number of weeks. He’s perfectly healthy,” Napier said. “…He’s went through the process of prepping each week, watching the cut-ups, all those things at the end of the week from a test and tips standpoint, so he’s been through the prep for a game.” Napier added that the volume of reps for Miller III will be different, which poses the biggest challenge.
  • With the transfer portal opening up in the last week, Florida is no stranger to roster turnover with 17 players from this season’s roster already in the portal. However, Napier says that a handful of that group plan on playing in the bowl game despite the desire to potentially transfer. “The good thing is, the majority of the players that we have that have entered the portal, I think, we’ve all been on the same page,” he said. “It’s not like they’re disgruntled. I think they’re just looking for an opportunity where they can contribute and compete. I’ve got a lot of respect for that.”
  • Florida’s upcoming trip to Las Vegas is drawing comparisons to the 2020 team’s trip to Arlington when they played Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl due to opt-outs. Dan Mullen’s message in that matchup was how it was a preview for the 2021 season. For Napier, he said that the Las Vegas Bowl “presents opportunities for young leadership to really emerge.” He explained that with a core group of veterans returning plus the young talent on roster gives those opportunities. He publically praised Derek Wingo for stepping up in a leadership role this week with Ventrell Miller opting out of the bowl game. “We’re in year one. There’s tremendous opportunity that comes with playing a really good Oregon State team in an early bowl game in Vegas,” he said.
  • One of those veterans who is playing in the bowl game is Gervon Dexter Sr., who already announced he is declaring for the NFL Draft. Napier said his decision to play despite knowing he would turn pro is a reflection of his character. “This guy, he’s a great teammate and one that I think has a lot of love and respect for the staff and the players. Very proud of Gervon,” he said.
  • Florida’s receiver room missed multiple playmakers, including Xzavier Henderson and Justin Shorter, in the 45-38 loss to Florida State. Napier gave an update on the depth of the room, saying that Henderson, Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman were all able to participate at Thursday’s practice, while Marcus Burke is still limited at practice. Shorter has already declared for the draft and will not play in the bowl game.


The rest of what Napier had to say can be found HERE

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