Parting Thoughts Q&A
- Anonymous Player Q&A Feed
- Rick Wells Q&A Part I
- Rick Wells Q&A Part II
- Rick Wells Q&A Part III
- Rick Wells Q&A Part IIII
During each off-season, Inside the Gators interviews departing seniors and early-entry juniors for a recap of their time at Florida as part of our Parting Thoughts series.
In this four-part interview, no topic was off-limits as we discussed Rick Wells’ past six seasons in a journey kicked off under the lights of Jim McElwain’s Gators, through Dan Mullen’s tenure, just short of Billy Napier’s revamped Florida dream.
The goal of this feature is to give our readers an honest and freely expressive look at the Florida football team and an unapologetic look at one of its many faces.
Today, take a dive into Wells’ experience at Florida beyond practice and game day beginning with his rocky start in Gainesville and moving along the regimes that have shaped Florida’s recent history through the lens, or rather the visor of one of its own.
CURRENT PLAYERS & TEAM
How hopeful are you heading into this season with coach Napier?
Wells: That’s the best thing they could’ve did. You’ve seen dude come in and what he did, he looked out for the people. He made sure they had food, fixed all the problems everyone was talking about. Food, parking, all you have to do is worry about playing football.
Looking ahead, who is the leader or leaders in the locker room?
Wells: Everybody is a leader in their own way. But main leaders, I’ll say like Ventrell [Miller], AR (Anthony Richardson) he’s going to be a top leader for sure. Richard Gouraige for sure, h*ll yeah. All of them are real gentlemen like I said. There are real gentlemen in the locker room it’s just the coaching wasn’t right. The gentlemen and the professional sh*t couldn’t show but now it’s going to show, who can ball and who can’t.
It ain’t going to be, “Oh, you got to play because I know him,” or “I know your dad,” or “I don’t want his feelings hurt.” I feel like it ain’t going to be none of that. It’s going to be whoever balls balls, ain’t no hating going to be going on. It’s going to be all love like it’s supposed to be. All the problems solved.
Who is a player or two on offense and defense that hasn’t played a lot yet, but the fans should be on the lookout for?
Wells: Our running back core is so deep, but six man [now number five]. Nay’Quan Wright he’s going to ball for sure. There are some more people on offense too like Hendo [Xzavier Henderson], a lot of them young receivers are going to ball man like Jay Fraz (Ja’Quavion Fraziars).
On defense Jay Hill [Jaydon Hill], I’m excited for Jay Hill. Jay Hill, Ventrell [Miller] I’m excited for them boys to get back out there. We were really missing those pieces. When you’re missing them pieces on that defense that sh*t hurts.
What do you think of Anthony Richardson as a quarterback and as a leader of the team?
Wells: He’s going to be a leader. He ain’t really get to show his leadership as he’s going to this year because of the sh*t that was going on last year. He showed leadership, like I said everybody in the locker room is a leader in their own way. People are going to follow other people and people follow him. The way he went about his business.
This year he is going to get to display his full quarterback potential. He’s going to really get to show that. He’s not going to have to worry about getting subbed out or making a mistake. He’s going to know he’s the dude. If you have to question whether you’re the dude or not, you’re going to be like “What’s going on?”
They’re going to get a show. I don’t compare nobody to nobody, he’s Anthony Richardson. He’s going to show you all how good of a football player he is.
I assume you stay in contact with current players – what are they saying about Napier?
Wells: I don’t know, I haven’t really been talking to nobody. I’ve just been doing my own thing, getting money for real. I can’t really tell you; I just go by what I see on social media. It looks like they’re having fun. They look like they’re ready to play football, like they’re excited. They get to be themselves, they don’t got to worry about trying to fit in with the coaching staff.
The new football facility will open at the end of the month. Have you seen it at all or heard anything about it?
Wells: I heard it’s beautiful. That’s just what they need, more attraction to the city of Gainesville. If you’re not playing football or football season not going on, it’s dead. It’s boring. You have to have something for them to do and I feel like a lot of them are going to do that with their spare time is go to that facility. That’s what they need.
You have rally good insight into the receiving room, give me your thoughts on each one of these guys.
Wells: He’s going to be a dawg; he just has to get his head right. He’s just young, he just wants to have fun. He comes from Jacksonville, I can’t speak for him and his household. But he just wants to have fun. He’s a dawg. He just has to understand this is a business. I want ‘lil bro to do great things.
Wells: He’s going to be good; all the receivers are going to be good. Jay Fraz, he’s going to get to show what he can do.
Xzavier Henderson & Justin Shorter
Wells: Hendo is going to ball though. I feel like Xzavier Henderson is going to be the top dawg, him and Shorter is going to be the top dawgs. Shorter works his a** off. He’s just raw. He got that (Jerry) Jeudy sh*t. He just reminds me of Jeudy, the way he moves. I don’t like comparing people to people, he’s raw. He’s got that stick. Everybody ain’t got that stick. Like KT (Toney) had that stick. When he puts that leg on the ground…you know? Yeah, he got that stick when it comes to them routes.
Shorter might be the No.1 receiver in the nation – real talk. If you ever go to practice, I like to talk about practice. I don’t like to talk about games. If you watch practice, watch this man. Watch how hard this man work. If more people did the sh*t he did in practice, they’ll pass out.
Wells: He’s raw too, I just don’t feel like they get a fair shot. They ain’t get treated right, he hard bro. He’s raw, his daddy was raw. What you mean? It’s in his blood.
What does a guy like Jordan Pouncey bring to that room?
Wells: Engine man. Engine and love. Happiness, you know what I’m saying?
Wells: He can ball too, he’s hard too.
Wells: He’s hard. All the receivers. He’s hard. He’s got the best hands; he’s going to catch everything. He ain’t dropping sh*t. He’s a “for sure catch.”
Being in town, have you had a chance to meet either of the two new receiver transfers, Ricky Pearsall and Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman? If so, your thoughts or what are you hearing about them?
Wells: I don’t know them; I hope they do great things though.
Why weren’t you a part of UF’s Pro Day?
Wells: I mean I was just dealing with a lot of sh*t. Dealing with a lot of depression. Going through a lot of things. Had to figure out what I’m going to do. I ain’t have no trainer. I ain’t have no agent. It’s hard going out there by yourself, especially not knowing what you’re getting yourself into or how to do the drills, what drills are going to be at Pro Day.
I just didn’t have that type of connection. I still work out every day. I still ball. It’s just crazy bro, like that transition is really stressful. My hair was falling out and sh*t. I just went into real depression bro, still is to this day. You know? It’s getting better. I have family, I just got a baby born, this man kept me here — that’s all I’m going to say.
Do you have a couple of great anecdotes, practice/game/locker-room stories, interactions between players, coaches, players and coaches, anything at all that would ‘WOW’ the Gator Nation?
Wells: I have one story, this sh*t really made me buckle down though. One time we were in Tampa. KT [Kadarius Toney] was my roommate. Away games we would room together, so we go everywhere, we’re locked in. It was one night, it was real late. It was a bowl game, real late. We were in there waiting until we see coach (Larry) Scott, that’s why I say Florida has to get real people in there. People who care about you.
So, dude sees me and he’s like, “Man, what’s up with you.”
He was just talking to me like, “You think everyone’s against you huh?”
I’m like, “What do you mean?” But the whole time he’s talking to me I’m like, “Yeah, you’re right coach. I feel like everybody’s against me man. I feel like they don’t want to see me play.”
He’s like, “That ain’t the reason.” He’s like, “Man, you’re hard. You raw. You just have to get your stuff together man. You can’t just be being by yourself when practicing.” Because when I practice, I’m trying to focus. I’m trying to be locked in. I’m trying to be by myself, really see what’s going on.
I just had to do it differently. I have to be by the receivers, I wasn’t doing it. He was just telling me the little sh*t.
I just have one thing to say to the recruits bro. This not just for Florida, this for anyone. Make sure you’re not just committing to one person. Make sure you have a connection with the whole staff.
Make sure when you get there, all the coaches know your name. They ain’t have to worry about, “Who is you?” Make sure when you get there, the coach that’s recruiting you wants the best for you.
Don’t go to a school just based off the school and the uniforms just because they let you take pictures in their sh*t — they let everybody do that bro. They let everybody who comes in that b*tch put on that uniform. It’s an experience. It’s a business. Y’all have to understand that. I’m going to try to set up a recruiting class for real.
What is your job? What is it that you do so that Gator Nation knows?
Wells: I’m with the Department of Children and Family, I’m a Child Protective Investigator.
For example, it might be that the dad is molesting the child — I have to go see what’s going on. I have to go help them.
There’s some f*cked up stories. I’m just thankful for my job that sh*t really humbles me. I know what I be dealing with, but people got this sh*t worse out here. I just have to try to do the best for myself to make sure my son doesn’t want for nothing.