Previewing Florida’s 2019-20 basketball team: is this the year Mike White breaks through?

by | Nov 5, 2019 | Gator Basketball, Uncategorized

Mike White

It’s no exaggeration to say that Florida’s 2019-20 basketball team is the most highly regarded team the school has had in Mike White’s tenure. Tonight, the Gators will begin their quest to match those high expectations against North Florida.

So with only a few hours to go before the season tips off, let’s meet the 2019-20 Gators.

New personnel

It all starts with the new blood. Traditionally, White has not been the kind of coach that recruits one-and-done type players, but he broke with that tradition this past recruiting cycle and signed a pair of them. And these two guys will ultimately go a long way toward deciding this team’s fate.

Scottie Lewis is the first of these. He’s Florida’s third best signee of all time according to 247Sports, and the best guard the school has ever had not named Bradley Beal. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Villanova and LSU, among others, all went after him, and he picked Florida, so that’s the first thing you need to feel good about him.

Then comes his film, where he displays his off-the-charts skill set. He’s not an overly threatening scorer, but he’s one of the best 6’6 rebounders I’ve ever seen coming out of high school, is more than good enough as a passer to facilitate the offense if need be and is absolutely lethal in transition. To boot, he could be the best on-ball defender Mike White has ever coached in his life. If he develops his jump shot throughout the course of this year, and gets it to be good enough that opponents have to respect it, he’s as surefire a lottery pick as any. Or more relevant for our purposes as Gator fans, he could very well be the catalyst to the school’s sixth trip to the Final Four.

Tre Mann is the other instant-impact freshman, rated ever so slightly below Lewis but no less of a threat. A healthy offer list that includes Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee should, as is the case with Lewis, serve as sufficient proof that top coaches around the country agreed with White’s glowing assessment of him. Mann actually got the start over Lewis in Florida’s exhibition game against Lynn, which means that the separate type of nightmare that Mann presents to opponents can sway White to lean on him just as heavily as Lewis.

Florida’s a very deep team this year (more on that in a little bit), but that depth is about the only thing standing in Mann’s way of a freshman All-American season. When he wants or needs to, Mann can take over a game at a level that Reggie Miller would be impressed by. He’s a dead-eye three point shooter who’s equally happy feeding his teammates and distributing the ball around as he is draining seemingly low-percentage threes or dancing around a pair of big men for a layup. He’s a creator, plain and simple, for all five Gators on the floor.

And then there’s the… not quite elephant, per se, but more of the behemoth in the room that needs addressing, former Virginia Tech star Kerry Blackshear Jr. In short, Florida added a 6’10, 250 lb. Swiss army knife to its starting lineup who, unlike the freshman, we all know for a fact can produce at the collegiate level- because he’s done it for the last three years. But Blackshear really put himself on the map last season with the Hokies, where he averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and .8 blocks a game.

As you can probably tell from those stats, Blackshear is capable of doing all the things that Florida has sorely missed out of its big men in recent years. He is a dependable scorer near the basket who can post up and who you can just feed and watch him go to work. He’s also got a solid jump shot, an uncanny ability to draw fouls and then a 73% free throw rate (last year). Translation: he can score from near the rim as well as from several feet away from it, including the free throw line. And yes, he’s a dominating paint presence on the other side of the floor, too, who can clean up the boards and limit second chances for opponents. Simply put, White hit the offseason lottery with him.

Development of returning pieces

With all that giddiness about the new pieces, though, comes a caveat: Florida is going to need its veterans in the program to step up if the Gators are to make a serious run in March.

To me, sophomore guards Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard are the X-factors. Locke was actually a better shooter from outside the arc than he was inside it, percentage wise, at least, and was a solid defender even after getting injured last year. Nembhard was a good facilitator of the offense, with a very good jump shot and top-notch passing skills. But both had glaring holes in their games and were far from NBA products at the end of last year, so both returned for their sophomore years (Locke didn’t even really think twice). How these two players grow from last year to March of 2020, and even from tonight to March of 2020, will be everything.

Nembhard isn’t a bad on ball defender, really, but he could clearly be better at this aspect of the game than he is. Particularly when he’s matched against bigger opposing guards. And he was much better at catching and shooting than he was creating his own shot. He seems to release the ball a little lower than he should, which could be accounting for his inconsistency, so that’s certainly another thing to watch.

Similarly, I wouldn’t say Locke is bad at dribble-driving, per se; he just needs to get better at it than he is. He’s always going to be a shooter first and foremost, but he could make things a lot easier for himself if he proves to opponents that his ability to take it to the hole is something that needs to be accounted for. And I would venture to guess that being completely healed will instantly make him a stronger defender than he was at the end of last year.

And then there’s returning sophomore small forward Keyontae Johnson. Johnson is a strong dribble-drive option who can get you some stats if you let him play enough. Averaging 8.1 points and 6.4 rebounds a game despite averaging 23 minutes of game action last season is sufficient proof of that. I’m not sure that I quite trust him to take the big shots since he plays on the same team as Blackshear, Mann and Locke, but if nothing else, his athleticism and feel for the game makes him a dependable bench piece and a strong starting option against a bigger team.

The starting lineup(s)

White tipped his hand a little bit in the exhibition game against Lynn: he can and likely will play with this pending the opposition, so it doesn’t seem fair or even accurate to just say “OK, this guy will be the 1, that guy is the 2, he’s the 3…” and so on. Because Florida doesn’t really have a true 1-5 lineup, but rather an ability to play five guys with their own diverse skill sets, so that’s not a bad thing.

Put aside lessons for being late to a team meeting or not hustling or something like that, an unusual need to start a “big” or a “small” team, or the obvious stuff like injuries, illnesses or family emergencies. For an important game: my best guess is that Florida will line up with Tre Mann, Andrew Nembhard, Scottie Lewis, Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackshear, and Noah Locke will be the sixth man.

That leaves lots of room for tweaks and rotation, of course. Omar Payne was considered a solid four star big man coming out of high school and was probably the favorite to start at center had Blackshear not come along. When Florida needs to go big- and assuming he develops to a point where White can trust him with extended minutes- I wouldn’t rule out Blackshear and Payne both starting, with Blackshear shifting over to the power forward role and Payne being the true center.

The rotation

I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Florida is going to use at least eight guys in their “I trust this player to play extended minutes” rotation: Locke, Nembhard, Johnson, Blackshear, Payne, Mann, Lewis, and to a lesser extent, freshman guard Ques Glover.

But Florida’s roster appears to break down this way, at least to start: Locke, Nembhard, Mann and Lewis are the guards, with Lewis able to spell a small forward if need be at times. Johnson and Blackshear are the true forwards, though I’d expect Blackshear to see a lot of minutes as the center as Payne grows and develops. And Payne, as well as Gorjok Gak, are the centers. (Unfortunately, the past few years have put me at a point with Gak where I refuse to see him as anything other than an emergency backup solution or filler option if Blackshear and Payne are in foul trouble, until he proves otherwise.) Jason Jitoboh is promising down the road, but right now my guess is he’s headed for a redshirt.

So: I expect White to heavily feature his top seven guys, and utilize nine in total in non mop-up situations.

The Strategy: what will Florida do?

Everything I’ve ever heard or seen tells me that White is smart enough to let his players do what they do best. So look for this year’s team to have the widest range of potential reliable game plans of any team in White’s career.

White likes to be a dribble-drive guy by nature. Sometimes, that’s worked at Florida, and sometimes it hasn’t. But now Florida has the best dribble-drive personnel it’s ever going to have, so you can expect a lot more attacking of the rim from its guards. Naturally, the more of a threat the Gators prove to be with the dribble drive, the more other things open themselves up- like feeding Locke for an open three, or drawing two defenders over to the driver before feeding Payne or Blackshear for a dunk.

That’s going to be a welcome adjustment for Florida, because last year was arguably their worst at dribble-driving under White. They simply weren’t good at it, which forced the Gators to place all their hopes at winning the game into making threes. When they didn’t- which was more often than when they did- Florida would lose because they had no other reliable method of scoring points. But an increased ability to finish around the rim- from guards to forwards to centers- should open up more pick-and-roll opportunities.

Florida also has a legitimate interior presence for the first time since John Egbunu was healthy in Blackshear, and in a backup role, Payne. Rebounding misses and getting easy put backs or tip-ins is never a team’s preferred way of putting the ball in the basket, because, you know, they’d rather hit threes of score off of set plays, but it’s inarguably a major boost to Florida to have this safety net even intermittently. Having Blackshear, Payne and even Lewis around to create some second chance opportunities could by itself make an enormous difference. And of course, that means you can look for Florida to feed the post significantly more frequently than a year ago.

Defensively, it’s all going to depend on opposing personnel, but it’s clear that Florida as a whole should be even better on this side of the floor. Florida’s top seven guys range from adequate to strong on-ball defenders, but there are going to be times against weak shooting opponents where the Gators apply a zone. However: the increase in his average player’s on-ball defending skills makes me think White will lean a little heavier on man defense this year than he did last year, and that- along with his team’s depth- leads me to believe the Gators could increase the frequency of its press.

Lastly, you’ve got your miscellaneous plays. Baseline out of bounds plays are White’s bread and butter, and his creativity in this area is worth at least a free bucket or two a game. Florida has always been strong in transition, and they’ve never had a roster as well equipped to run as this one, so look for those numbers to grow this year. And with a team as deep and well conditioned as this one appears to be, look for Florida to push the tempo at times and try to wear opponents down.

Team expectations

Where do I begin to talk about what a team should accomplish when it’s built in a fashion unlike any other team this coach has ever had?

On paper, this team is a Final Four contender, plain and simple. The Gators are as naturally talented as any team in the nation, a statement that very much includes the usual championship contenders like North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, and so on. And this year, Florida has a wide array of talent that can do different things: a paint presence (Blackshear and Payne), reliable three point shooters (Locke, Mann, and to a lesser extent, Nembhard), natural facilitators of the offense (Nembhard, Lewis and Mann), guys who can score off the drive (Blackshear, Lewis, Mann, and to a lesser extent Nembhard), solid all around defense (pretty much everyone), rebounding presences and shot-alterers (Payne, Blackshear, and to a lesser extent, Lewis).

But we’ve heard that before under White. Remember two years ago? Now, that was a very different collection of players, but the point is that everyone thought the Florida team that had just come off an Elite 8 appearance and returned Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone and added Jalen Hudson, Egor Koulechov and Isaiah Stokes was going to be a national title contender. Indeed, that team started off the year ranked #8 in the country, and rose to #5 after a 5-0 start and taking Duke down to the wire in the #PK80 championship game. And then came a smackdown on their home court by FSU followed by another ugly home loss to Loyola-Chicago. Florida never really recovered, plummeting out of the national rankings entirely and finding itself 17-11 with three regular season games to go before finally pulling itself together and winning its final three regular season games (two of which came against top 15 ranked opponents) to earn itself a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Florida would then play to its seeding and lose in the Round of 32 to Texas Tech.

This year, of course, feels markedly different. The Gators have a surplus of natural talent this time around, whereas that team was very good but nobody would mistake anyone on it for a lottery pick. But there is still that precedent of drawing high expectations only to fall well short of them under White, and it cannot be completely ignored.

Another thing that can’t be ignored, though: White is definitely learning on the job. He learned that he needed a big man coach, so he went out and got Al Pinkins. He learned that he needed a dependable big man after signing one in his first three recruiting classes, so he went and got Kerry Blackshear as a “now” solution, and signed Omar Payne and Jason Jitoboh as “later” solutions. And he learned that while Nembhard and Locke are valuable pieces, you need top-tier talent to win, so he went out and got Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann. It feels to me that it’s about time all that learning translates into results, not just as a fan but as a realist: White is undoubtedly a highly intelligent basketball mind, and now he’s combining the things he already does well as a coach with doing those other things that he struggled with well.

So: in the wildly uncertain world of November 5th, I would label this team as such: a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, a fairly safe bet to make the Sweet 16, and anything beyond that will rely on the Gators’ draw, their injury situation, how well they’re playing in early March and, as an overarching rule to pretty much anything, how closely the newcomers come to matching their sky-high expectations.

But if we’re talking purely potential? This team is as certain to win a national championship as a team can possibly be in the uncertain college basketball universe.

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Four star 2022 DE Francois Nolton commits to Florida

Four star 2022 DE Francois Nolton commits to Florida

With the Gators' 2021 recruiting class all wrapped up, Dan Mullen and his staff have gone to work setting up their 2022 class. https://twitter.com/99_nolton/status/1357739221822418945?s=20 Francois Nolton, a 6'4, 225 lb. four star defensive end from Miami, has...

COVID forces Gator basketball game vs. LSU to be postponed

COVID forces Gator basketball game vs. LSU to be postponed

After an embarrassing home loss to South Carolina two nights ago, the Gator basketball program will have to wait a little longer to get back on the court. Per an SEC press release, Mike White's team is experiencing another COVID outbreak: The Florida at LSU men's...

Gators land former LSU five star TE Arik Gilbert

Gators land former LSU five star TE Arik Gilbert

Dan Mullen remains undefeated in the NCAA transfer portal with the addition of Arik Gilbert. And now, a year after Florida lost unanimous All-American tight end Kyle Pitts to the NFL, the Gators may not miss a beat at that position. Gilbert, a former five star tight...

Way too early 2021 Gator football game-by-game projections

Way too early 2021 Gator football game-by-game projections

With the Florida Gators' 2021 schedule released yesterday, I thought it would be worth taking my first shot at what's become fans' favorite offseason ritual: projecting Florida's record. And in order to have a final record projection, you have to go game by game in...

Florida Gators’ 2021 football schedule revealed

Florida Gators’ 2021 football schedule revealed

When the SEC first pieced together a twelve year football schedule rotation in 2014 that dictated which teams would play who from the other division, the Florida Gators knew that they'd be hosting Alabama as their cross-division opponent in 2021. But now, following...

Gators complete coaching staff with Jules Montinar

Gators complete coaching staff with Jules Montinar

UPDATE: Florida has officially announced Jules Montinar as the newest member of the Gator football staff. https://twitter.com/GatorsFB/status/1353802427313618945?s=20 (Initial story begins below.) With linebackers coach Christian Robinson presumably staying at...

Auburn DL Daquan Newkirk transfers to Florida

Auburn DL Daquan Newkirk transfers to Florida

DaQuan Newkirk is coming home. Daquan Newkirk has decided to return home (or close to it) for his final year of eligibility. And thus, Florida's shaky offseason took a step in the right direction. https://twitter.com/holdthat_2/status/1349757297782829056?s=20 Once a...

Florida LB James Houston to enter transfer portal

Florida LB James Houston to enter transfer portal

Best of luck to James Houston as he searches for a new home. James Houston IV, a junior linebacker from Fort Lauderdale, has told me that he will be entering the transfer portal. Houston was known for making a few of the bigger defensive plays of the last couple of...

Keyontae Johnson placed into medically induced coma

Keyontae Johnson placed into medically induced coma

Keyontae Johnson has been placed into a medically induced coma, according to the USA Today, who spoke with Johnson's grandfather. His grandfather, Larry DeJarnett said in a phone interview that his grandson was transported to Gainesville earlier today after receiving...

Florida vs Tennessee: Film Review – Defense

Florida’s 2020 season has overall been a successful one by most measures. The Gators are 8-1, ranked in the top ten in every major poll and are four wins away from securing the program’s fourth national title. But in order to obtain that national title, there’s a lot...

Several Gators listed as national award semifinalists

Florida's efforts on the field have been rewarded in the sense that the Gators now control their own destiny to SEC and national championships. But for several players, their efforts are being rewarded in more individual manners, too. Four Gators have been listed as...

Rocky Slop: Florida takes down Tennessee to clinch SEC East

The day Dan Mullen was introduced as the Gators’ new head coach, he talked at length about giving relentless effort in all he did to restore the program to a championship level. Last night on Rocky Top, his Gators took a major step toward doing so. Heisman front...

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 31-19 win over Tennessee

Florida didn't play especially well, but did more than enough to beat Tennessee and wrap up the SEC East for the first time since 2016. What were the major takeaways from the game? Florida simply does not have a running game Tennessee came into the game with a five...

Photo Gallery from Florida’s 34-10 win over Kentucky

As we anticipate tomorrow's road matchup with Tennessee,  let’s take one more look back at last week’s game against Kentucky. Our podcast host, Dustin Smith, happens to also be a fantastic photographer. He was at the game last Saturday, and got some great photos of...

Florida RB Iverson Clement will transfer

Florida's deep stable of running backs has just gotten a little thinner. Iverson Clement, a junior tailback from Mount Holly, NJ, has decided to transfer. He departs from Florida having carried the ball twelve times for 94 yards. He nearly scored a touchdown against...

Gators make belated Thanksgiving feast out of Wildcats

Florida was missing key pieces on both sides of the ball a week ago in a sluggish 38-17 win over Vanderbilt. The Gators got them both back today, and the result was fairly similar: Florida struggled for a half against a historically inferior divisional opponent,...

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 34-10 win over Kentucky

It took awhile for Florida to get itself going, but they eventually did do exactly that and rolled away from Kentucky. What stood out in the victory? A tale of two halves Florida's offense was stuck in reverse for most of the first half, mustering a grand total of...

No. 6 Gators overcome sluggish start to run past Vandy

Florida arrived at Vanderbilt’s small stadium a mere hour and two minutes before kickoff, determined to avoid the cramped quarters in the visitors’ locker room at all costs and intent on spending as little time on the premises as they had to. Then the Gators took the...

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 38-17 win over Vanderbilt

It wasn’t pretty, but Florida fought off a tough challenge from Vanderbilt and got out of Nashville with a 38-17 win. What stuck out in the victory? The defense is still a problem. Yes, Florida played better on defense after a miserable first quarter, and sure,...

Photo Gallery from Florida’s 63-35 win over Arkansas

Before we look ahead to Vanderbilt tomorrow, let's take one more look back at last week's game against Arkansas. Our podcast host, Dustin Smith, happens to also be a fantastic photographer. He was at the game last Saturday night, and got some great photos of various...

Trask, Gators run Hogwild in blowout of Arkansas

Trask, Gators run Hogwild in blowout of Arkansas

Feleipe Franks’ dramatic return to the Swamp was the story of the day when his Arkansas Razorbacks faced off against #6 Florida in the Swamp. But it was his long-time understudy, Kyle Trask, who dominated the night. Trask continued his push for a Heisman Trophy by...

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 63-35 win over Arkansas

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 63-35 win over Arkansas

Florida earned its most lopsided win of the season over Arkansas, and former quarterback Feleipe Franks, 63-35. What stood out most along the way? Kyle Trask is now the Heisman frontrunner After several years of hyping up various quarterbacks as Heisman Trophy...

A Tribute to Feleipe Franks: I Will Remember You

A Tribute to Feleipe Franks: I Will Remember You

Hello again, Feleipe Franks. It's been about fourteen months since your Gator career ended in a particularly gruesome fashion. Tomorrow, we meet again. Only this time, your job will be to ruin Florida's season, not enhance it, and our job will be to make you...

Florida 44, Georgia 28: Helmet Stickers and Plays of the Game

Florida 44, Georgia 28: Helmet Stickers and Plays of the Game

Florida's euphoric win over Georgia is still sinking in, but it's time to go through the film and look at this game from an academic standpoint. You can rewatch the game here. First order of business: a blanket helmet sticker is awarded to every member of the team for...

Gators kick Georgia out of Cocktail Party

Gators kick Georgia out of Cocktail Party

Throughout Dan Mullen’s short tenure at Florida, Kirby Smart has had Mullen’s number.  And three minutes into their third meeting in Jacksonville, it looked like that would continue. But then Florida flipped the script and turned the game— and the rivalry— on its...

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 44-28 win over Georgia

Five Takeaways from Florida’s 44-28 win over Georgia

WE DID IT!!! Yes, at long last, Florida has gotten the Georgia monkey off its back and toppled the Bulldogs to take control of the SEC East. What did we learn along the way? Kyle Trask is officially a Heisman Trophy frontrunner He may not win the award, but he has to...

2021 OL Yousef Mugharbil commits to Florida

2021 OL Yousef Mugharbil commits to Florida

A day before the Gators take on Georgia in the Cocktail Party, Yousef Mugharbil kicked off their weekend the right way. Mugharbil, a consensus four star offensive lineman from Murphy, NC/Murphy HS, has committed to Florida. He also had offers from Penn State, Virginia...

Five takeaways from Florida’s 41-17 win over Missouri

Five takeaways from Florida’s 41-17 win over Missouri

Florida bounced back from a rough loss to Texas A&M three weeks ago with a statement win against Missouri. What stood out in the process? The defense isn't great, but it's getting better. Even without three starters in the secondary (and without Zachary Carter in...

Gators down three starters in the secondary against Missouri

Gators down three starters in the secondary against Missouri

Florida's defensive backfield- already shaky at full strength- is now going to be decimated tonight against Missouri. Starting cornerback Marco Wilson, as well as safeties Shawn Davis and Donovan Stiner, are all out tonight, according to various reports. The reasons...

For Gators, a new season begins against Missouri

For Gators, a new season begins against Missouri

Three weeks ago, Florida completed its preseason portion of the 2020 schedule with a good deal of promise, but well aware of what it had to work on. One ugly COVID outbreak and three weeks later, and the Gators begin the meat of their schedule- a seven game stretch...

2022 Safety Sam McCall commits to Florida

2022 Safety Sam McCall commits to Florida

Just as things are getting back into full swing for the Gator football team, things are heating up on the recruiting trail, too. Florida has nabbed a commitment from 2022 athlete Sam McCall, a consensus five star recruit from Lakeland, FL/Lake Gibson HS. He chose...

2021 Edge rusher Jeremiah Williams commits to Florida

2021 Edge rusher Jeremiah Williams commits to Florida

Defensive end Jeremiah Williams, a consensus four star prospect out of Birmingham, AL/Ramsay HS, has committed to Florida, giving the Gators yet another dynamic piece for their 2021 recruiting class. Signs were pointing towards Gainesville for the highly touted edge...

Florida-Missouri game postponed to October 31

Florida-Missouri game postponed to October 31

According to multiple sources close to the team, the Florida-Missouri game scheduled to take place on October 24th will now be pushed back one week, to Halloween on October 31st. In All Kinds of Weather first reported yesterday that the game was extremely likely to be...

Florida-LSU game postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

Florida-LSU game postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

Multiple sources have confirmed that the Florida-LSU game scheduled for this Saturday is going to be postponed. An announcement could come as early as Wednesday afternoon. The news comes less than 24 hours after an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Gators' football...

COVID-19 outbreak places Florida-LSU game in jeopardy

After just three games, the novel coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on pretty much everything in 2020 appears to have found its way into the Gator football program. And predictably, the COVID-19 outbreak has thrown up a blockade in front of the season. A few days...

Texas A&M forces Florida to address defensive issues

Texas A&M forces Florida to address defensive issues

Throughout the game on Saturday in College Station, Florida seemed to be one step ahead of Texas A&M. Until they weren't. And then it was too late to do anything about it as the Florida program trudged off the field following a familiar fate- a loss to Jimbo...

Five takeaways from Florida’s 41-38 loss to Texas A&M

Five takeaways from Florida’s 41-38 loss to Texas A&M

Florida suffered its first loss of the season against Texas A&M today, an ugly 41-38 setback that’s far more irritating than damaging— but one that exposed a great deal of Gator shortcomings. What stood out in particular? (Spoiler alert: a lot of them are...

Imperfect Gators outlast South Carolina to start 2-0

Imperfect Gators outlast South Carolina to start 2-0

The various struggles the Florida Gators have endured on defense didn’t matter too much in their first two games against Mississippi and South Carolina. They might in their next game. And they almost certainly will later in the season. Kyle Trask tossed four touchdown...

Clemson RB Demarkcus Bowman to transfer to Florida

Clemson RB Demarkcus Bowman to transfer to Florida

The Lakeland-to-Gainesville pipeline has continued, albeit via a detour. Demarkcus Bowman has chosen to transfer to Florida. Mere days after announcing his decision to enter the transfer portal, Bowman told Gators Territory of his decision. Bowman, a former five star...

Trask’s career day propels Florida past Mississippi

Trask’s career day propels Florida past Mississippi

Dan Mullen returned to the place he once called “The School Up North” in his new set of colors for the first time. And he provided that school up north with a first class education in just how lethal his new offense is. Kyle Trask went wild, completing 30 of his 42...

Five takeaways from Florida’s 51-35 win at Ole Miss

Five takeaways from Florida’s 51-35 win at Ole Miss

The Gators opened their 2020 season with a somewhat convincing 51-35 victory over Ole Miss in Oxford. In doing so, Florida knotted the all time series score against the Rebels at twelve wins apiece. Here are my five initial takeaways from the game: Kyle Trask is...

2020 Gator football position preview: secondary

2020 Gator football position preview: secondary

Our position previews of the 2020 Gator football team conclude today with a look at the defensive backfield. Can the unit colloquially known as "DBU" move forward without CJ Henderson? Previously previewing: quarterbacks | running backs | wide receivers | tight ends |...

2020 Gator football position previews: linebackers

2020 Gator football position previews: linebackers

The penultimate piece of our position preview segment takes us to the Florida linebackers- a unit that was very good in 2019, but will look a bit different in 2020. Let's get right into it. Previously previewing: quarterbacks | running backs | wide receivers | tight...

2020 Gator football position preview: defensive line

2020 Gator football position preview: defensive line

Having completed our offensive position previews, today we move to the defensive side of the ball. And as is the case everywhere in the SEC, it starts up front. Previously previewing: quarterbacks | running backs | wide receivers | tight ends | offensive line The...

2020 Gator football position preview: offensive line

2020 Gator football position preview: offensive line

Fresh off our preview of Florida's tight ends, our 2020 Gator football position preview rolls on with a look at perhaps the key to the entire team: the offensive line. Last year, was so-so a year ago in pass protection, but really let the team down in the ground game....

2020 Gator football position preview: tight ends

2020 Gator football position preview: tight ends

With kickoff just around the corner, our position by position previews of the 2020 Gator football team are about to start hitting the presses rapid-fire. Having already published our previews on Florida's quarterback, running back and wide receiver rooms, the first of...

2020 Gator football position preview: wide receivers

2020 Gator football position preview: wide receivers

Having previously broken down Florida's quarterbacks and running backs, our position preview segment moves along today with a look at Florida's receivers. It's a unit that lost four of its top playmakers from 2019 (Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Josh Hammond and Tyrie...

2020 Gator football position preview: running backs

2020 Gator football position preview: running backs

After a bit longer of a gap between position breakdowns than I intended, the series rolls on today with a look at Florida's running backs. What do the Gators have in stock in their RB room this year? The leader: Dameon Pierce The leading returning rusher from 2019 has...

Snapshot: the 2020 Florida-FSU chart

Snapshot: the 2020 Florida-FSU chart

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor and privilege to present to you, the 2020 Florida-FSU chart. Many of you already know what I'm referring too. For those who don't, "The Chart" is an annual In All Kinds Of Weather tradition that compares the Florida Gators...

2020 Gator football position preview: quarterbacks

2020 Gator football position preview: quarterbacks

With kickoff at long last in sight, it's time to break down the 2020 Gator football roster, position by position. Who's back, who's going to start, how good are they, and so on. Man, it's great to finally be talking about that again. So with that said, let's start...

Gators learn four of ten kickoff times for 2020 season

Gators learn four of ten kickoff times for 2020 season

Three of Florida's first four games of the 2020 season carry the potential to be broilers. The Gators' season opener against Mississippi in Oxford on September 26th will kick off at noon, and air on ESPN. The following week, Florida will return home and again play in...

#GreatestGatorEver Sweet 16 bracket breakdown

#GreatestGatorEver Sweet 16 bracket breakdown

Having announced the tentative plans for the schedule of the remainder of the #GreatestGatorEver fan voting tournament (update; the tournament resumes tomorrow on twitter and Instagram stories), it's time to refresh our memories regarding the final sixteen contestants...

#GreatestGatorEver tournament schedule update

#GreatestGatorEver tournament schedule update

For those who have been keeping track of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament, the excitement level has reached yet another all time high, as it does with the completion of each round. For those who haven't, it's not too late to be introduced to the event. Here's (a very...

Gators’ 2020 football schedule unveiled

Gators’ 2020 football schedule unveiled

At long last, the Florida Gators 2020 football schedule has been released. Here it is, in full. Florida Gators 2020 football schedule Week Date Opponent 1 9/26 @ Mississippi 2 10/3 S CAROLINA 3 10/10 @ Texas A&M 4 10/17 LSU 5 10/24 MISSOURI 6 --- BYE 7 11/7...

Four key Gators sit out first fall practice

Four key Gators sit out first fall practice

For the time being, it looks as though the SEC is going to give its college football season a go in 2020. But at least for today's inaugural practice, the Florida Gators football team launched its fall season down four critical pieces. As first reported by Sports...

Florida Gators 2021 Recruiting Big Board update: mid-August

Florida Gators 2021 Recruiting Big Board update: mid-August

The Gators' recruiting recent endeavors can be summed up with a synopsis not unlike a bunch of little kids swinging away at a dangling piñata. After much time and effort hacking at it to no avail, one well-placed swing and the fruits of their labor suddenly began...

DT Desmond Watson commits to Florida

DT Desmond Watson commits to Florida

Florida had been suffering through a bit of a lull on the recruiting trail earlier this month, a period that was low lighted by Clinton Burton flipping his commitment from Florida to Boston College. But if the past couple of weeks didn't vault Florida out of that rut,...

Gators flip OL recruit Jake Slaughter from FSU

After a bit of a lull on the recruiting trail, Florida has suddenly picked it up over the course of the last week. Last Saturday, safety Donovan McMillon committed; less than 48 hours later, receiver Marcus Burke followed suit to rev the engine a little bit on a 2021...

Top Jacksonville WR Marcus Burke commits to Florida

Top Jacksonville WR Marcus Burke commits to Florida

The Gators' 2021 recruiting class got a boost Saturday with the addition of Donovan McMillon. Today, Dan Mullen & Co. built on that momentum with the addition of receiver Marcus Burke. https://twitter.com/CERTIFIED_MB4/status/1285296008747003904?s=20 Burke, a...

Safety Donovan McMillon commits to Florida

Safety Donovan McMillon commits to Florida

Clinton Burton out, Donovan McMillon in. McMillon, a borderline three/four star safety from McMurray, PA/Peters Township High School, has committed to the Gators. The move provides Florida fans with a bit of relief following the decommitment of fellow defensive back...

#GreatestGatorEver tournament set to heat up

#GreatestGatorEver tournament set to heat up

Welcome to the part of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament where things really start to get interesting. For those who are just catching wind of the tournament, a quick explanation of how it works. Created with the goal of deciding the greatest Florida Gator athlete of...

Gators announce six new positive COVID tests within football program

UF confirms 11 positive COVID-19 cases since April

The University of Florida has acknowledged that eleven different positive tests for COVID-19 have taken place since April. The news comes a week and a half after the announcement that no returning Gator football player had tested positive. From Florida senior...

2021 CB Jordan Young commits to Florida

2021 CB Jordan Young commits to Florida

It may be one of the slowest times for sports in recent memory, but the inverse has been the case in the world of Gator football recruiting. 2021 cornerback Jordan Young (Tampa, FL/Gaither) has committed to Florida. A consensus three star prospect with offers from...

Kamar Wilcoxson re-commits to Florida for a third time

Kamar Wilcoxson re-commits to Florida for a third time

Kamar Wilcoxson is back on the Gators' commitment list- and he says this time, it's for good. https://twitter.com/KamarWilcoxson4/status/1274100941369806850?s=20 I think at this point, most Gator fans are familiar with who he is, and if you're not, I'll explain why I...

Safety Dakota Mitchell commits to Florida

Safety Dakota Mitchell commits to Florida

It probably got lost in the news of yesterday’s news that the Florida band will stop cueing up the “Gator bait” chant due to the term’s racist history, but while Florida football lost a ritual, it gained a commit. Safety Dakota Mitchell (Winter Park, FL/Winter Park)...

Gator football gets the green light to proceed with practice

Gator football gets the green light to proceed with practice

One thing that COVID-19 has proven is that it possesses an uncanny ability to screw up all different types of plans, and there's no concrete evidence that it's finished doing so. That's something that has to be kept in mind for the duration of this article, as well as...

Gator baseball pitcher Tommy Mace to return in 2021

Gator baseball pitcher Tommy Mace to return in 2021

Tommy Mace has just pulled perhaps the biggest offseason surprise in the world of Florida Gator athletics. Mace, the ace of the Gator baseball pitching staff, has decided to return to Gainesville for another season after going undrafted in the MLB Draft. Per...

Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell murdered outside his house

Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell murdered outside his house

Photo credit: Sports Illustrated Ex-Florida wide receiver Reche Caldwell has died from injuries sustained in a shooting right outside his home in Tampa, according to multiple different reports. The story was first broken by TMZ, and confirmed by ESPN's Adam Schefter....

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 15 Regional

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 15 Regional

The sixteenth and final Regional of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament gets underway later tonight. Thus, our Regional previews conclude with a look at the 15 Regional: The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.) (1)...

Lorenzo Lingard granted immediate eligibility for Florida

Lorenzo Lingard granted immediate eligibility for Florida

Happy birthday, Lorenzo Lingard. Florida's newest running back addition has announced on twitter that his waiver to be able to play in 2020 has been granted: https://twitter.com/d1champ99/status/1266464118950723584?s=20 Florida's running back room wasn't bad to begin...

#GreatestGatorEver tournament set to heat up

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 2

The penultimate Regional of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament is just about set to get underway. As is customary by now, let's acquaint ourselves with the sixteen player field a little more first. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 10 Regional

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 10 Regional

Round one of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament is drawing to a close. Today, we take a look at the third-to-last of the sixteen Regional brackets to be played: the 10 Regional. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.)...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 7 Regional

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: 7 Regional

We are officially three quarters of the way through of the first round of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament. Tomorrow morning, we begin the first round of the fourth quarter of the bracket- the 7 Regional. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order...

Class of 2021 RB/WR Charles Montgomery commits to Florida

Class of 2021 RB/WR Charles Montgomery commits to Florida

Charles Montgomery will be suiting up in orange and blue on Saturdays. On an instagram live feed, Montgomery announced that he was choosing Florida over Maryland. A consensus four star prospect out of Seffner, FL/Armwood, Montgomery also had offers from Alabama,...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 14

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 14

Time to complete the upper right hand corner of the #GreatestGatorEver bracket with the 14 Regional. Y'all know the drill by now; let's get to it. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.) (1) Kelly Barnhill (softball,...

Florida unveils plan to bring athletes back to campus

Florida unveils plan to bring athletes back to campus

Photo credit: University of Florida COVID-19 has pretty much shut down college athletics since it made its way over to the United States a couple of months ago. Now, the first steps are being taken to see their resumption. Earlier today, SEC school presidents have...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 3

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 3

Up next in our #GreatestGatorEver tournament is the 3 Regional. Before voting gets underway, let's take a closer look at the field. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.) (1) Al Horford (basketball, C/F-...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 11

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 11

Eight Regionals down, one underway, and seven more to go in Round One of our #GreatestGatorEver tournament. Next up is the 11 Regional. The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.) (1) Jack Youngblood (football, DE/DT/K-...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 6

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 6

We're halfway through the opening round of our summer long #GreatestGatorEver tournament. Now, we shift to the right side of the bracket, and start at the top with the 6 Regional, which gets underway tomorrow morning. The bracket Regional participants (Players are...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 12

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 12

The eighth and final Regional on the left half of the 256 player #GreatestGatorEver tournament is set to get started tonight. Another way of putting that: after tonight's 12 Regional voting, we will officially be halfway done with the opening round of this summer long...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 5

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 5

Our #GreatestGatorEver tournament rolls on today with Round one of the 5 Regional. As was the case for the previous Regionals and will be for all ensuing Regionals, let's take this opportunity to refresh our memories regarding what, exactly, the sixteen players in...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 13

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 13

With the 4 Regional of the #GreatestGatorEver tournament currently winding down, it's time to preview the Regional it's paired with in the Sweet 16: Regional #13. The 13 Regional bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.)...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 4

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 4

Our #GreatestGatorEver bracket is set to continue tomorrow with the opening round of the 4 Regional. Let's get to know that 4 Regional: The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they appear on the bracket.) (1) Emmitt Smith (football, RB-...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 9

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 9

Our #GreatestGatorEver bracket is set to continue later today with the opening round of the 9 Regional. With voting in the 8 Regional closing soon, let's familiarize ourselves with said 9 Regional: The bracket Regional participants (Players are listed in order they...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 8

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 8

Our #GreatestGatorEver tournament is off and running. Voting for the opening round of the 1 Regional has been completed; the 16 Regional is underway and will wrap up this afternoon. Shortly after its conclusion, the 8 Regional will get underway. So, let's get to know...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 16

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 16

Yesterday, voting began in our #GreatestGatorEver bracket in the 1 Regional. Today, voting will continue with the 16 Regional, but before the polls open, let's preview the field and refresh our memories on the players' accomplishments. The bracket Regional...

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 1

#GreatestGatorEver bracket breakdown: Regional 1

Voting for the #GreatestGatorEver bracket begins this afternoon. In the name of eliminating potential recentism in the voting, I thought I'd set the stage by previewing each Regional before the voting gets underway. Today, we'll take a look at Regional 1, which of...

2021 guard Kowacie Reeves commits to Florida

2021 guard Kowacie Reeves commits to Florida

Mike White's 2021 recruiting class is off to a great start. Kowacie Reeves (Macon, GA) has committed to Florida. Reeves, a highly sought after four star, also earned offers from North Carolina, Texas, Auburn, Georgia and Seton Hall, among others. This commitment might...

Introducing the Greatest Gator Ever bracket

Introducing the Greatest Gator Ever bracket

Part of what has helped fans make it through a long, frustrating quarantine is the abundance of fan polls on social media. In particular, 64-team, March Madness themed brackets that allow fans to vote on the winner of each matchup in each round have captured a lot of...

Michigan F Colin Castleton transferring to Florida

Michigan F Colin Castleton transferring to Florida

Colin Castleton is coming home, and Florida is adding some more frontcourt depth for the future- potentially even next season. Castleton, who spent the last two seasons at Michigan, will be transferring closer to home and joining Mike White's Gator basketball squad....

Recapping the Gators’ weekend in the 2020 NFL Draft

Recapping the Gators’ weekend in the 2020 NFL Draft

The 2020 NFL Draft has just concluded, and once again, the Florida Gators were very well represented. Below is a list of all the selections from Florida. Click on the player names for further analysis on what they bring to their new teams. Florida Gators in the 2020...

Tebow, Spikes, James inducted into UF Hall of Fame

Tebow, Spikes, James inducted into UF Hall of Fame

Three members of the Florida Gators' 2008 football team- universally regarded as one of the best in college football history- are finally getting the ultimate recognition they deserve- spots in the UF Hall of Fame. Explosive kick/return man Brandon James posted a...

Scottie Lewis to return for sophomore year

Scottie Lewis to return for sophomore year

Florida’s basketball team got a sort-of-but-not-really-surprising boost today, as shooting guard Scottie Lewis announced that he will be coming back for his sophomore season. Lewis, a ridiculously athletic kid from southern New Jersey, arrived in Gainesville last fall...

The “Kyle Trask Emory Jones” debate: why not both?

The “Kyle Trask Emory Jones” debate: why not both?

The "Kyle Trask Emory Jones" debate is in full swing. Yes, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has, among other things, lengthened college sports fans' offseason, the fanbase-wide argument regarding who should be the starter at the most important position of...

Coronavirus abruptly ends 2019-20 NCAA athletic season

Coronavirus abruptly ends 2019-20 NCAA athletic season

Photo credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images UPDATE 5:10pm: although it feels wholly logical to assume that college baseball and softball are over for 2020, the language in the two released statements- from the SEC and NCAA, and which you can read below- left one pair of...

TE Nick Elksnis commits to Florida

TE Nick Elksnis commits to Florida

Tight end Nick Elksnis (Jacksonville, FL/Episcopal) has announced his decision to be a Gator, thus netting Florida its first commitment of its Junior Day weekend. In doing so, Elksnis effectively flips from Penn State, from which he decommitted last week....

2020 Florida Gators’ Junior Day visitors list

2020 Florida Gators’ Junior Day visitors list

The Gators' second Junior Day event in Gainesville is upon us, and it's important to keep an eye on because more often than not, Florida uses it to add members to its list of commits. This time around, the chances of the Gators doing so are increased appreciably-...

For Gator basketball, time is running out to figure things out

For Gator basketball, time is running out to figure things out

For much of Saturday's game against Tennessee, Florida couldn’t score. When they finally remembered how to score, they couldn’t come up with the critical stops. In other words, it was a typical basketball game for Mike White’s Gators on the heels of an impressive win....

Four star TE Gage Wilcox commits to Florida

Four star TE Gage Wilcox commits to Florida

Congratulations to Gage Wilcox. You, sir, have just become the first commit for Tim Brewster. Wilcox, a four star tight end from Tampa's Jefferson High School in the Class of 2021, committed on an Instagram Live video, as captured by twitter user @CurtisK421....

Florida takes step forward by throttling LSU

Florida takes step forward by throttling LSU

Photo credit: Florida Gators Maybe this is another mirage, the latest peak in a dizzying array of sine waves for Mike White’s Gator basketball team. Or maybe, after we all erroneously thought this team had turned the corner several times before, this is the game that...