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Chomp: More roster & staff moves for Napier’s Gators; A look back at 2021 predictions

Florida football coach Billy Napier speaks to the crowd during halftime of an NCAA college basketball game between Florida and Alabama, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey) (Matt Stamey, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.


New year, new coach, new players.

The newest addition is Kamryn Waites, a 6-foot-8, 358-pound offensive tackle who transferred from head coach Billy Napier’s previous stop, Louisiana.

But we also now know more familiar faces that will be returning to Florida for next season, including safety Trey Dean. Defensive end Brenton Cox Jr. is also expected to return. Even more surprising, there are rumblings cornerback Kaiir Elam could come back for another year instead of entering the 2022 NFL draft.

Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, however, will not be returning. He entered the transfer portal last month and announced this week he will be heading to Utah.

Meantime, while Emory Jones announced he would be entering the transfer portal after the Gasparilla Bowl, that has yet to happen. FloridaGators.com senior writer Scott Carter reports the Gators reconvened Tuesday for a team meeting and Jones was in attendance.

🏈 More staff additions

Moves aren’t just being made on the roster. Napier continues filling out his staff, and the word is there may be more additions once the NFL season is over.

The latest hire announced was Bird Sherrill, who will serve as the director of college personnel. As part of his role, he will focus on the evaluation of transfer portal and junior college players. Sherrill spent the last six seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Napier also announced he will be keeping Paul Pasqualoni on staff as director of advanced scouting and self scout. Pasqualoni, a pro and college coaching veteran, spent the last two seasons at Florida as a special assistant to former head coach Dan Mullen.

Napier is also bringing more staffers from Louisiana.

Bri Wade was named director of on-campus recruiting and football events. She was in the same role at Louisiana the last two seasons. Wade joined the Ragin’ Cajuns after spending the 2019 season as a football recruiting assistant at Mississippi State following her time serving as a graduate assistant in the office of institutional diversity and inclusion in Starkville. She was also a student recruiting assistant for the Bulldogs from 2014 to 2018.

Kelsee Gomes will serve as the director of sports nutrition - football. She comes from North Carolina, where she was the director of sports nutrition since 2015. Before that, she was a coordinator of sports nutrition for the Gators from 2012 to 2015. From 2011 to 2012, she was a nutritionist consultant at UCF, and from 2009 to 2011, she worked at the traumatic brain injury and rehab unit at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

CJ Wilford was added to the staff as in the position of quality control - defense. He spent the last three seasons at Louisiana in the roles of defensive backs quality control assistant his first two years and was a nickels and safeties graduate assistant this past season. Wilford was the youngest Division I position coach in the country in 2018.

Braxton Morris also joined the Gators in the role of quality control - defense. Morris was in the same role with the Ragin’ Cajuns for the last two seasons.

And Matt Bergeron will serve on as offensive analyst - wide receivers. He spent the last two seasons at Louisiana. Bergeron served as a graduate assistant his first two seasons there, working with the quarterbacks in 2018 and the wide receivers in 2019. As an analyst, Bergeron worked with the wide receivers in 2020 and the tight ends in 2021.

In this episode of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters and Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, have the latest on players and coaches coming and leaving for Napier’s first season at Florida.

🔮 Revisiting 2021 predictions

To start the season, David and Will shared their predictions for the offense and defense. Now, in the Gators Breakdown episode, they went back and took a look at what they got right and what they got wrong. (Note: These were based on 13 games — 12 regular season matchups and a bowl game.)

OFFENSE

Will Emory Jones have over/under 30 touchdowns?

Actual: Under — 23 touchdowns (19 passing, four rushing)

David: Over ❌

Will: Over ❌

Does the quarterback position have over/under 40 touchdowns?

Actual: Under — 32 touchdowns (Jones’ 23 plus Anthony Richardson’s nine)

David: Over ❌

Will: Under ✔️

Any ball carrier over/under 750 yards?

Actual: Over — 758 yards (Jones)

David: Under ❌

Will: Over ✔️

Any wide receiver over/under 45 catches?

Actual: Under — 41 catches (Both Jacob Copeland and Justin Shorter)

David: Under ✔️

Will: Over ❌

Score over/under 35 points per game?

Actual: Under — 30.7 points per game

David: Under ✔️

Will: Under ✔️

DEFENSE

Give up over/under 20.5 points per game?

Actual: Over — 26.8 points per game

David: Over ✔️

Will: Under ❌

Over/under 37 sacks?

Actual: Push — 37 sacks

David: Over ➖

Will: Over ➖

🏀 Florida falls to Alabama

The Florida men’s basketball team’s game at Ole Miss that was scheduled for Dec. 29 was postponed due to COVID-19 within the Gators’ program.

Florida then returned to the court Wednesday evening with a home game against Alabama. While the group was at full strength, the team had to be pause practices because of the outbreak and several players had returned in recent days.

The Gators looked sluggish at times and lost 83-70.

GAME RECAP: No. 15 Alabama uses big 2nd-half run to beat Florida

Florida lost for the fourth time in seven games and the first of three straight against ranked teams.

Up next, Florida plays Auburn on Saturday.

🐊 Napier makes 1st public appearance in Gville

Despite the Gators men’s basketball team’s loss Wednesday, fans at the game still experienced a special treat: Napier’s first public appearance in Gainesville since he was hired.

Napier received a standing ovation at halftime.

“It’s not about me,” Napier said. “It’s going to be about our football team. It’s important for you to understand that we are going to do things with class. We are going to do things with integrity. And we are going to build young men of character.”

In addition to the one above, you can see more photos from Napier’s appearance here.

🏟️ Another SEC showdown

The College Football Playoff title game will feature a rematch of Alabama and Georgia.

The Crimson Tide won the first matchup this season, with a 41-24 victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Historically, teams who lose the first matchup in a season typically win the rematch. But Kirby Smart is still trying to get his first win as a head coach over his former boss Nick Saban.

REMATCH BLUES: Bama tries to buck history in CFP title game

My thoughts: Roll tide. What’s another national championship for ‘Bama? Georgia hasn’t won one since 1980, and I think most Gators fans would like it to stay that way.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

You can catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown at News4JAX.com/GatorsBreakdown or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Google Podcasts | Stitcher.


About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.