ESPN names two Gators as ‘best available’ in transfer portal

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The one-time exception rule has changed the way college athletes use the transfer portal, and it’s created a free agency of sorts in the sport. Naturally, the worldwide leader in sports is tracking where every high-profile player that enters the portal winds up and who is the best left on the market after big names find new homes.

ESPN had two Gators listed as the best available at their position on Monday, quarterback Emory Jones and linebacker Mohamoud Diabate. Jones hasn’t technically entered the portal yet and is mulling over his future. Only Texas‘ Casey Thompson remains ahead of Jones on ESPN’s list if he does decide to enter the portal.

It’s not entirely his fault, but Jones’ first season as a starter at Florida was a complete disaster. Dan Mullen left the program without developing the headliner of his first recruiting class, and Jones now needs to find a new quarterback guru to get him NFL-ready.

Jones wants to go to a school where he can be developed, but given all the quarterbacks ahead of him in the portal he will have to be open to going anywhere — including A Group of 5 situation.

If Jones does end up leaving, Florida has already landed former Ohio State quarterback Jack Miller III. Anthony Richardson is the expected starter, but Miller will be able to compete with a very young quarterback room.

The Gators have a new head coach in Billy Napier as well, and Napier will have Anthony Richardson on the roster, as well as former ESPN 300 quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson and Jalen Kitna, who both signed in 2021. Everyone will have a fresh start with the new staff, but Miller has a lot of competition to earn the starting spot.

Diabate is at the top of the list when it comes to available linebackers. After Ventrell Miller went down, he stepped into a bigger role and finished the season leading the team in tackles. The folks at ESPN aren’t exactly sure where he might end up, but there should be plenty of interest for him.

Diabate is from Auburn, Alabama, so he could go home and play for Auburn if there’s interest. Florida State showed interest during his recruitment, as well as Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Ole Miss. He just recently entered the portal, so some concrete schools will surface soon.

Miller is returning next year after sitting out the bulk of this year, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see Diabate join him. Lloyd Summerall III and Dante Zanders just withdrew their names from the transfer portal, and Diabate did enter with the intention of keeping all options open. With no solid leads, Florida could get one of its top linebackers back.

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