With the 2023-24 winter transfer cycle almost over, Manny Navarro of The Athletic is picking which team he believes won and lost college football’s version of free agency.
The Florida Gators fall into neither category, though. The Athletic says that UF “broke even,” meaning it lost as much as it gained.
Florida lost a ton of talent to the portal this offseason. Florida lost half of its run game with running back Trevor Etienne (Georgia) and guards Richie Leonard (Florida State) and Micah Mazzccua (Nebraska) transferring out. The defense took a hit at every level, losing JACK Princely Umanmielen (Ole Miss), linebacker Scooby Williams (Texas A&M), cornerback Jalen Kimber (Penn State) and STAR Jaydon Hill (Texas A&M).
Still, Billy Napier did his best to recoup any talent lost. Graham Mertz gets a new favorite target to replace Ricky Pearsall in former Wisconsin teammate Chimere Dike, and former San Diego State offensive tackle Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson should start immediately. On defense, the Gators added defensive lineman Joey Slackman from Penn, Northern Illinois EDGE George Gumbs, Oregon starting cornerback Trikweze Bridges and Washington safety Asa Turner.
“It’s probably a bit of a stretch to say the Gators didn’t lose more than they gained in the portal,” wrote the Athletic’s Manny Navarro, “but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and put them in this category because Napier also picked up two young former blue-chip recruits in linebacker Pup Howard (South Carolina) and 2024 Alabama cornerback signee Jameer Grimsley.”
Billy Napier’s seat only got hotter as the transfer portal opened, but he’s done a decent job recovering from what many viewed as insurmountable losses.