Watch & Read: Napier – ‘We’re playing a game that’s never been played before’

Feb 1, 2023 | 1 comment

Billy Napier held a National Signing Day press conference Wednesday afternoon in which he spoke on the Jaden Rashada situation, the transfer portal, the NIL, and more.

Here are the highlights:

Napier opened the media availability by stating how “proud of the personnel department” he is and “in particular, the scouting group.”

He then got into the Rashada situation. He didn’t say much of too much substance regarding the specifics of how everything went down, which was to be expected, but he did say that the NIL is a strength for the Gators and that they have had no other issues in any other recruiting situations. Here is some of what he did say:

  • “It’s not permissible for me to get specific.
  • “I think every college football coach would tell you they’re a little frustrated.”
  • “I wish we can get into the specifics, but we’re not allowed to.”
  • “I think that we’re in a unique dynamic. I think we’re living in a time in college athletics that we’ll look back upon.”
  • “But I think, ultimately, NIL is a strength for the Gators.”
  • “I’m very pleased with where we’re at.”
  • “I have the utmost respect for Jaden and his family.”
  • “We have had no other issues in any other recruiting situations.”

“I mean, we’re talking a completely different dynamic,” he said on the current state of college football and the NIL. “We’re playing a game that’s never been played before.”

“There’s a lot of good things about NIL,” he said. “But the combination of NIL and portal creates a dynamic. You got all the bad things about the NFL but none of the good things. We’re all aware of the issues.” Said that as time goes on, the market will settle down.

When asked about a proposed bill in Florida relating to NIL rules in college football, he said all proposed bills are “hypothetical” and that he will cross that road when he gets there.

On transfer quarterback Graham Mertz, Napier said that he thinks they are “getting an experienced player with arm talent who can quickly process and who wanted to be at Florida.” Adds that he “has proven his work ethic.”

On Kam Waites’ Achilles injury, he said that Waites will “be getting introduced back into things” as they get into training camp.

On 200-pound freshman receiver Andy Jean, Napier said he ran 22.5 MPH the other day. “And I don’t think he was running as fast as he can.”

On where he feels they did their best work bringing guys in this offseason, he said offensive line recruiting. He specifically made sure to name Damieon George, Kiyaunta Goodwin, Micah Mazzccua, and Caden Jones — in that order.

He also mentioned that he currently feels good about the linebacker position.

On if there are any holes on the roster after the early transfer portal window and this recruiting cycle that he feels they need to target in the spring portal window, he specified edge rushers and another quarterback as an area of focus for them going forward in that realm.

“We offered Caden [Jones] when he was in the 10th grade,” he said. Adds that he can “really move and bend.” Napier also said that Jones was actually the first player he went to see in the contact period, and that the familiarity of him being Montrell Johnson’s high school teammate likely played a role in things working out the way they did.

On the sheer number of players who left in the transfer portal, Napier consistently used words like “expected” and “anticipated.” He said that played a role in them being able to bring in almost just as many guys as there were who left — that is, expecting and anticipated the portal to have the impact on his roster that it did.

On how he balances recruiting and working with the team he currently has, he said that the evaluating and recruiting side is “its own entity,” and that team building is where his focus is right now.

He said that the first practice of spring ball will be March 4.



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