With the creation of the transfer portal and the one-time transfer rule in full effect, players have changed teams at the highest rate in history. Some programs have been more successful than others. ESPN has compiled a list of their recent winners and losers of the transfer portal, with the Florida Gators falling into the “losers” category.
The portal is still early in its existence. Players have always been able to transfer, but the one-time transfer rule has given players more agency in their collegiate careers. It also allows coaches to plug roster holes in a more immediate fashion. While a strategy of loading up on transfers isn’t sustainable as a long-term roster-building technique, it can be helpful in transition periods where a new coach is looking to turn over the roster.
That’s the situation that the Gators find themselves in with Billy Napier entering his second season as head coach. Napier did a fantastic job in the portal last season. He took O'Cyrus Torrence and Montrell Johnson Jr. with him from Louisiana and brought in Ricky Pearsall from Arizona State. All three players were vital parts of the Gators’ 2022 offense.
With over 25 players leaving the program via the portal, it’s understandable that the Orange and Blue are considered to be “losers” of the portal heading into 2023. Here is ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren’s explanation for Florida’s negative distinction:
Florida has lost 26 players to the portal since Nov. 11, including:
Billy Napier and his staff have made moves, bringing in Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell and Louisville defensive lineman Caleb Banks.
Despite that and the fact the Gators have a top-10 recruiting class coming in, they still have work to do to replace depth and competition at some key positions on both sides of the ball.
While not as deep as before, the mass exodus isn’t anything Florida fans should worry about. Napier is clearly taking a “quality over quantity” approach in his roster building, and crafting a roster that is willing to buy into his way of doing things is part of it. I wouldn’t expect the roster to be as thin for too much longer, as Napier is placing a strong emphasis on recruiting going forward.
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