UF football spring transfer tracker: Gators search for first winning season under Billy Napier

The spring transfer portal opened April 16. Coach Billy Napier is tasked will replacing key losses at running back, receiver and restocking a compromised defense for a team that went 5-7 last season:

Elijhah Badger

Vitals: 6-2, 190 pounds

Resumé: The native of Sacramento, Calif., was the nation’s No. 182 overall recruit and No. 6 athlete in the 2020 class, according to 24/7 Sports composite rankings. Badger totaled 135 catches for 1,579 yards and 10 touchdowns the past two seasons.

Role: Badger will step in with an opportunity for a starting role in a receiving corps lacking production beyond sophomore rising star Eugene Wilson III. Among those in the mix are Wisconsin transfer Chimere Dike, who spent three seasons with Gators’ quarterback Graham Mertz in Madison, sure-handed former walk-on Khaleil Jackson and promising sophomores Andy Jean and Aidan Mizell, a former standout at Orlando Boone.

Cormani McClain

Vitals: 6-2, 165 pounds

Resumé: The native of Lakeland was the nation’s No. 1 cornerback prospect and No. 14 player overall in the 2023 class, according to 24/7 Sports composite rankings. McClain recorded 17 interceptions during his final three seasons at Lake Gibson High before committing to Miami over Florida before ultimately deciding to join Deion Sanders at Colorado. He appeared in six games with the 2023 Buffalos, finishing 13 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Role: McClain will join UF as a preferred walk-on because the Gators sit at the 85-man scholarship capacity to provide depth in a secondary that struggled in 2023, leading Napier to hire Will Harris. Fourth-year starter Jason Marshall Jr. and 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior Devin Moore of Naples are expected starters. Sophomores Ja’Keem Jackson and Dijon Johnson along with freshman Jameer Grimsley and Teddy Foster and Oregon transfer Trikweze Bridges will be in the mix for snaps.

Jason Zandamela

Vitals: 6-3, 307 pounds

Resumé: A native of Mozambique, Africa, until moving to the United State in 2020, Zandamela was the nation’s No. 1 available lineman and No. 7 overall prospect in the spring transfer portal, according to 24/7 Sports composite rankings. He attended Clearwater Academy International, where he was the nation’s No. 46 overall prospect in 2024, choosing USC over Florida State.

Role: Zandamela has four years of eligibility remaining after spending just three months on campus and three weeks of spring practices, opting to get closer to home. A rugby player as a youth, Zandamela likely has some development ahead before he will enter the mix at center and interior line at UF.

Ethan Pouncey

Vitals: 6-0¼, 169 pounds

Resumé: The native of Winter Park was the nation’s No. 14 cornerback prospect and No. 195 player overall in the 2020 class, according to 24/7 Sports composite rankings. Pouncey recorded 21 passes defended and 8 interceptions, including 3 for pick-sixes during the 2018 season.

Role: Pouncey’s high school success never translated at the college level. In four years at UF, he appeared in 14 games, including 11 in 2021 when he recorded 4 tackles as a reserve and special teams player. He did not appear in 2023.

Outlook: The Gators are deep at cornerback, with four-year starter Jason Marshall, junior Devin Moore, Oregon transfer Trikweze Bridges and sophomore Ja’Keem Jackson and Dijon Johnson.

Caleb Rillos

Vitals: 6-5, 255 pounds

Resumé: A native of Arvada, Colo., Rillos was unranked as a recruit out Ralston High School, where he playedf football, basketball and lacrosse. He registered 57 catches for 766 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior year, according to MaxPreps.

Role: Rillos will join the Gators as a walk-on tight end after he appeared in 21 games, eight of them starts, the past two seasons at the Air Force Academy. He recorded 3 catches for 70 yards and a score for the Falcons, but his primary value will be as a run blocker with the Gators.

Outlook: The Gators have many options at tight end, beginning with redshirt sophomores Arlis Boardingham and Hayden Hansen. Sophomore Tony Livingston is an intriguing athlete while redshirt freshman Gavin Hill moved from defensive line to tight end during the offseason. Keon Zipperer is a sixth-year player who missed the 2023 season recovering from a knee injury. Incoming freshman Amir Jackson is an explosive athlete who needs to physically develop. The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Georgian recorded 44 catches for 727 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023. He also had 57 tackles, 6 for loss in 2023.

Mannie Nunnery

Vitals: 6-1¼, 227 pounds

Resumé: The Houston native was a 3-star prospect rated as the No. 76 outside linebacker in 2019, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Nunnery recorded 81 tackles during four seasons at Houston, including 46 stops in 2022 and was a special teams demon. He recorded 2 punt blocks and 3 blocked kicks in 2021 to earn the National Special Teams Player of the Year award.

Role: Nunnery had 28 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and a pass defended playing mostly linebacker for the Gators. He became a starter in November after inside linebacker Shemar James’ season-ending knee injury. Nunnery also lined up at the STAR position and at outside linebacker as coaches sought a role for him. During the April 13 spring game, Nunnery registered 3 tackles and intercepted a pass in the flats by 5-star freshman quarterback DJ Lagway.

Outlook: The Gators return promising James and senior Derek Wingo, who missed spring practices while recovering from shoulder surgery. South Carolina transfer Grayson “Pup” Howard shined during the Orange and Blue game, leading the Blue squad with 6 tackles to go with a pass breakup.

Edgar Thompson can be reached at