Chomp: Draft week & top 4 Jacksonville-area recruits

Gators Breakdown looks at the top 4 local recruits.

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


The 2022 NFL draft begins tomorrow!

🏈 NFL draft preview

Full disclosure: I was torn about the best time to send this week’s newsletter. For the NFL draft last year, at least one Gator — Kyle Pitts — was a guaranteed first-round pick. Of course, Kadarius Toney ended up going on night one, as well. This year, it appears mock drafts are split on whether Florida’s presumed first player off the board — Kaiir Elam — is projected to go in the first or second round.

Due to that uncertainty and since we haven’t previewed this year’s draft yet, we’re going to do that in today’s edition of Chomp. Next week, we’ll review the draft selections.

Here’s where the NFL.com’s seven-round mock draft has Florida players slated:

  • Elam — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (round 1, No. 27 overall)
  • Running back Dameon Pierce — Seattle Seahawks (round 5, No. 153 overall)
  • Defensive lineman Zachary Carter — New England Patriots (round 6, No. 183 overall)
  • Linebacker Jeremiah Moon — Los Angeles Charges (round 7, No. 236 overall)
  • Offensive tackle Jean Delance — Minnesota Vikings (round 7, No. 250 overall)

⭐ Top 4 Jacksonville-area recruits

With the Florida football team’s spring football camp in the rearview mirror, the Gators’ attention turns to recruiting.

Taking back the state of Florida is a priority for coach Billy Napier, and that starts with recruiting the Jacksonville area better than previous coaches. Gators Breakdown host David Waters takes a look at the top four area recruits in the 2023 class that Napier would like to close on:

WATCH: David picks his top four recruits from the Jacksonville area

  • Running back Treyaun Webb from Trinity Christian Academy: He visited Florida a lot over the last few weeks, and he is set to commit June 30.
  • Offensive lineman Roderick Kearney from Orange Park: The Gators coaching staff was expected to be in town this week to visit Kearney, who plays at a position in need for Florida.
  • Linebacker Grayson Howard from Andrew Jackson: It’s a Florida-South Carolina battle. Florida has recruited linebackers very well and could use another one.
  • Defensive back Sharif Denson from Bartram Trail: He visited in the spring and has a family connection to the University of Florida, as well. He has multiple offers from Power Five programs, and Florida coaches like his position versatility.

The 247Sports Composite has all of these players as four stars.

Questions remain after spring camp

So while spring football practice has come and gone for the Gators, plenty of questions still remain.

David and Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, are joined by Thomas Goldkamp, with Swamp 247, in this Gators Breakdown episode as they bring up and answer some of the big questions coming out of camp.

And Gators Breakdown and The Gator Collective are teaming up to bring you a preview of Gator Collective content! The first preview is a Twitter Spaces featuring spring standouts defensive lineman Tyreak Sapp, tight end Dante Zanders and running back Lorenzo Lingard. Also, catch a preview of “84 Reasons” as former tight end Ben Troupe talks with linebacker Ventrell Miller. You can listen to those here.

➡️ Kicker transferring

Kicker Chris Howard announced that he will be entering the transfer portal.

He posted the announcement on social media:

“Thank you for the countless memories, the relationships that will last a lifetime, and for the endless support over these last 5 years. To all my coaches, trainers, professors, and to everyone else who contributed to making my journey at Florida so special, I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the opportunities. As I enter my 6th and final year of my collegiate football career, my family and I have decided it’s time to see where the next stop on my journey will take me. I will be entering the transfer portal with 1 year of eligibility remaining and am beyond excited to see what’s next. Thanks again, and Go Gators!”

🐊 Gators RB among SEC players poised to have breakout seasons

The Associated Press took a look at Southeastern Conference players who appear poised to have breakout seasons and named running back Montrell Johnson for Florida.

LIST: Several players to watch in the SEC

Johnson followed Napier from Louisiana and was a bright spot during spring practice.

He was the Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year and has a chance to see significant playing time behind Nay’Quan Wright.

Soccer coach fired

Florida fired women’s soccer coach Tony Amato less than a year after giving him a six-year contract to replace beloved program architect Becky Burleigh.

A person familiar with the situation told The AP that Amato was fired without cause, leaving the Gators on the hook for the remaining five years of a contract that paid him about $225,000 annually. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side has confirmed what led to Amato’s dismissal.

READ MORE: Florida fires women’s soccer coach after 1 season

Athletic director Scott Stricklin blamed “a disconnect” between Amato and his athletes as the reason for his dismissal.

“We have worked diligently with Tony since last fall when I first became aware of challenges with relationship building and communication,” Stricklin said in a statement. “As the issues continued to be brought to my attention, it became apparent that sufficient progress was not being made and Tony was not a fit for the University of Florida.

“Therefore, it is my assessment that in order to have the program we all expect, this change is necessary. I appreciate Tony’s hard work during his time here and wish he and his family the best.”

Amato went 4-12-4 in his one season with the Gators.

Stricklin has now said goodbye to three of the first four coaches he hired since replacing former athletic director Jeremy Foley -- including former football coach Dan Mullen and former women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer.

✉️ 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

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About the Author:

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