2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Safeties

·7 min read

Rounding out the defense in Gators Wire’s position-by-position breakdown of the 2022 Florida football roster are the safeties.

Florida’s scheme calls for five defensive backs and utilizes the nickelback position, which they call the STAR. Fortunately, the Gators return starters at all three positions in 2022. Trey Dean III and Rashad Torrence II are back to man the safety spots, and Tre'Vez Johnson is at the STAR.

Behind them are a group of relatively young and inexperienced players, some of which could take a huge step over the season if they see enough snaps. At the top of that list might be Kamari Wilson, the surprise five-star signing that Billy Napier pulled off during the early signing period last year.

This should be one of the stronger position groups on the team this year given the returning experience in the room. Here is a look at all 13 safeties on the 2022 Florida football fall roster.

See also:

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Quarterbacks

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Running Backs

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Wide Receivers

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Tight Ends

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Offensive Line

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Defensive Line

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Outside Linebackers

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Linebacker

2022 Florida Football Season Preview: Cornerbacks

Safety: No. 0 Trey Dean III (Fifth Year)

UAA Communications/Isabella Marley

Stats:

Year

GP

SOLO

AST

TOT

TFL-YDS

SACKS-YDS

INT

PD

FF

FR

2018

13

16

10

26

0.5-1

0-0

1

7

0

0

2019

13

16

10

26

3.5-21

2-18

1

2

1

0

2020

11

21

13

34

1-12

1-12

1

1

0

1

2021

13

41

51

92

4-12

1.5-10

1

10

0

0

Total

50

94

84

178

9-46

4.5-40

4

20

1

1

Trey Dean III decided to return for a fifth year at Florida, made possible by the extra year of eligibility granted to all players during the 2020 COVID season. Dean started 12 of 13 games for Florida last season at safety. He originally came to Florida as a cornerback but made the switch to safety after his sophomore year.

He isn’t the perfect player, but Dean’s experience should come in handy to help guide a relatively young defense. An All-SEC Third Team selection, Dean is looking to add some consistency to his game and shine in coverage. He swatted away 10 passes thrown in his direction and picked another off. Hopefully, both of those numbers increase in 2022.

Safety: No. 22 Rashad Torrence II (Jr.)

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Stats:

Year

GP

SOLO

AST

TOT

TFL-YDS

SACKS-YDS

INT

PD

FF

FR

2020

9

10

15

25

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

2021

13

51

36

87

3.5-7

0-0

3

5

0

1

Total

22

61

51

112

3.5-7

0-0

3

5

0

1

Torrence got three starts during his freshman year in 2020 and never looked back as the team’s starter. He held down the position for all 13 games last season and knows how to work with Dean. He can get beat by a speedy receiver, but Torrence’s ability to read the offense has him in the right spot to make a play more often than not.

He’s primed for a breakout season with plenty of SEC experience under his belt.

STAR: No. 16 Tre'Vez Johnson (Jr.)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Stats:

Year

GP

SOLO

AST

TOT

TFL-YDS

SACKS-YDS

INT

PD

FF

FR

2020

12

12

3

15

1-2

0-0

1

3

0

0

2021

10

16

8

24

4-13

1-6

1

3

0

0

Total

22

28

11

39

5-15

1-6

2

6

0

0

Tre’Vez Johnson will be the starter at the STAR position for Florida to start the season. He made seven starts at the position for the Gators in 2021 and made 10 total appearances, recording 24 total tackles (16 solo), three pass deflections, a sack and an interception.

Johnson is better against the run than he is the pass, so there could be some swapping with another player on this list, but he’s expected to hold down the spot most of the time. It’s tough to project what the snap split will be at nickelback for Florida as the Gators transition from Todd Grantham’s to Patrick Toney’s defense. Hopefully, the chance helps Johnson feel more comfortable at the position. He certainly has the versatility to be an impact player there.

Backups: No. 13 Donovan McMillon (So.), No. 27 Jadarrius Perkins (Sr.) and No. 5 Kamari Wilson (Fr.)

Matt Pendleton/The Gainesville Sun

Behind the returning starters is a trio of unique talents. [autotag]Donovan McMillon[/autotag] saw action in all 13 games last year and has the experience to step into a starting safety role if necessary. [autotag]Kamari Wilson[/autotag], the five-star crown jewel of Billy Napier‘s transition class at Florida, is the other favorite to get the most playing time this season. He lived up to expectations in preseason camp and should get plenty of playing time to avoid a redshirt year. In a second-string scenario, McMillon would take over for Dean with more range and Wilson would be the hard-hitting safety.

At the STAR, [autotag]Jadarrius Perkins[/autotag] is most likely to slide in if Johnson needs a break. The Mississippi Gulf Coast CC transfer served as a reserve defensive back in nine games for Florida last season and started the Samford game. He finished the year with 25 total tackles (15 solo) and two pass deflections. Perkins has the leg up on Johnson in coverage, so the two could end up sharing the load at the position.

Depth pieces (Safety): No. 20 Corey Collier Jr. (R-Fr.) and No. 10 Miguel Mitchell (Fr.)

UAA Communications/Courtney Culbreath

Now we move to the reserves, or depth pieces, of the team. Most of these guys are young or have dealt with injuries, slowing down their careers, but they should see some playing time this year.

[autotag]Corey Collier[/autotag] Jr. (pictured) only saw action in two games last year, appearing mostly in a special teams role. He redshirted, which gives him a leg up on true freshman [autotag]Miguel Mitchell[/autotag]. Napier has Collier as a third-string safety behind Rashad Torrence in the Week 1 depth chart, and Mitchell is a second-stringer with an “OR” designation next to McMillon.

It might take an injury or two to see these guys on the field consistently, but they are solid developmental pieces to have on the depth chart.

Depth pieces (STAR): No. 26 Kamar Wilcoxson (R-So.) and No. 35 Dakota Mitchell (R-Fr.)

UAA Communications/Courtney Culbreath

[autotag]Kamar Wilcoxson[/autotag] (pictured) missed his redshirt freshman year last season after suffering an injury just before the season. He only made two appearances in 2020 as a true freshman after reclassifying and joining the team late. He collected one tackle and a fumble recovery against Missouri and had two solo tackles in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.

Wilcoxson is a hard hitter who looked good in preseason camp, but he’ll start the season as a depth piece behind more experienced players at the STAR.

[autotag]Dakota Mitchell[/autotag] redshirted after not appearing in his first year at Florida and comes into 2022 buried on the depth chart. He’s not on the Gators’ three-deep to start the season, but he should be available.

Walk-Ons: No. 38 Cahron Rackley (R-Fr.), No. 31 Cruz Rushing (Fr.) and No. 37 Javion Toombs (Fr.)

UAA Communications/Leslie White

The Gators have three walk-on safeties on the 2022 roster, redshirt freshman [autotag]Cahron Rackley[/autotag] (pictured) and true freshmen [autotag]Cruz Rushing[/autotag] and [autotag]Javion Toombs[/autotag].

Rackley joined the team as a walk-on in the spring of 2021 and redshirted after failing to see action. He was a member of the Miami Palmetto team that made it to the FHSAA 8A State semifinals. That defense allowed just 43 points through five playoff games.

Rushing joined the team as a preferred walk-on over the summer. He was very productive for the Salpointe Catholic Lancers’ (Arizona) run to the AIA 5A State Championship game. He collected 80 tackles (47 solo), two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.

Toombs also joined as a PWO over the summer. He had 58 tackles (52 solo), four tackles for loss, six pass deflections, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for Centennial High in Port St. Lucie last year.

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