Chomp: 4 important offensive players on Florida football roster to watch this spring; men’s hoops set to miss tourney

Gators Breakdown: Top 4 Offensive Players for Spring

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Hey there, Gators fans.

Gators Breakdown host David Waters is taking a look at the offensive players on the Florida football roster.

But before we get to that and other football news, let’s touch on the tough loss for the Gators men’s basketball team...

😔 Texas A&M’s 3 spoils Florida’s comeback

Florida suffered a crushing defeat in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday when Texas A&M guard Hassan Diarra hit a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to lift the Aggies past the Gators, 83-80.

That capped a wild finish that saw ninth-seeded Florida lead a total of 39 seconds, all in overtime, after closing regulation with a 21-8 run over the last five minutes.

GAME RECAP: Diarra’s 3 spoils Gator comeback, A&M wins 83-80 in OT

Texas A&M guard Hassan Diarra (5) celebrates his game-winning shot against Florida with teammates Tyrece Radford (23), Aaron Cash (0) and Andre Gordon (20) after an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Tampa, Fla., Thursday, March 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“I thought our guys showed incredible resiliency, as they have all season, to put ourselves in a position a couple of different times to steal it after being down big,” Florida coach Mike White said. “We dug ourselves a huge hole, of course, in the first half. Really proud of the character of these guys. Very, very somber locker room, obviously.

“A bunch of high-character guys that left it on the line, and, unfortunately, Texas A&M made some huge plays down the stretch, hit a huge shot, obviously.”

With the loss, the Gators are now set to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

Thursday’s loss follows another loss last week to end the regular season, in which the Gators finished 19-12.

🏀 Johnson gets ceremonial start

The Gators fell 71-63 to Kentucky in their regular-season finale, but we don’t want the loss to overshadow this special and emotional moment to begin the game.

Florida forward Keyontae Johnson, who collapsed during a game in December 2020 and hasn’t practiced or played since, got a ceremonial start on senior day in front of a sold-out home crowd.

READ MORE: Florida’s Johnson gets ceremonial start on senior day vs UK

Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11) smiles after being introduced as a starter before the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Johnson dribbled the ball several times near midcourt, handed it to an official and started hugging everyone around him, even his opponents. He then dropped to the court in a push-up pose and kissed the giant Gators logo -- all while being overwhelmed by a standing ovation.

Johnson has spent most of the last two seasons cheering on teammates from the bench as he remained enrolled in school and on scholarship. He is scheduled to graduate next month.

🏆 Castleton earns All-SEC honors

Florida senior forward Colin Castleton has earned second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches, the SEC office announced Tuesday.

Castleton averaged 17.9 points per game in conference play this season with three 20-point outings.

He becomes the first Gator since Dorian Finney-Smith (2015 and 2016) to earn repeat All-SEC honors.

👀 Most important offensive players to watch in spring practice

With spring practice right around the corner for coach Billy Napier and the Florida football program, David is highlighting the four most important offensive players::

VIDEO: David looks at top 4 most important players for Florida’s offense

4. Wide receiver Xzavier Henderson

“This new offense likes to use play action for shots down the field. Henderson seems a likely candidate to test defensive down the field,” David said. “Henderson was probably held back somewhat by a struggling passing game last season. But he should have some chances this season to beat some one-on-one coverage if the run game is working.”

3. Running back Demarkcus Bowman

“It’s time for Demarkcus Bowman to get carries,” David said. “Florida has lacked explosive run plays, and Bowman can bring that capability. We saw it in just some of the short highlights from last camp, and that is a continue this spring.”

2. Offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence

“The biggest addition for this Gators football roster, an immediate starter for an offensive line that has struggled the last few seasons, would still be an immediate start on a very good offensive line anywhere in the country,” David said.

1. Quarterback Anthony Richardson

“Is he healthy? That’s the biggest question surrounding Gator football as we head into spring practice,” David said. “Florida’s potential rides on Anthony Richardson’s potential.”

And in this episode of Gators Breakdown, David is joined by Will Miles and Nick Knudsen with Read and Reaction to break down the roster on the offensive side of the ball, going position by position of what they like and what questions need to be answered.

🗓️ SEC media days schedule set

The SEC unveiled the schedule for this year’s football media days, which will be held July 18 to 21 in Atlanta.

Napier and the Gators are scheduled for the third day.

Here’s the full schedule:

Monday, July 18

LSU – Brian Kelly

Ole Miss – Lane Kiffin

Missouri – Eliah Drinkwitz

Tuesday, July 19

Alabama – Nick Saban

Mississippi State – Mike Leach

South Carolina – Shane Beamer

Vanderbilt – Clark Lea

Wednesday, July 20

Arkansas – Sam Pittman

Florida – Billy Napier

Georgia – Kirby Smart

Kentucky – Mark Stoops

Thursday, July 21

Auburn – Bryan Harsin

Tennessee – Josh Heupel

Texas A&M – Jimbo Fisher

🏈 Napier announces more hires

Florida’s football staff continues to expand.

Brandon Taylor was named gamechanger - graduate assistant. He spent the last two seasons as special teams graduate assistant at LSU.

And Jordan Herald was announced as associate director of creative media, football recruiting. Herald spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Florida.

✉️ 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.

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