Chomp: The Jaden Rashada and Florida Gators saga reaches a conclusion

FILE - Florida head coach Billy Napier, right, watches players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Eastern Washington, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. A person familiar with the situation says Florida quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada requested a release from his national letter of intent Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 after a $13 million name, imagine and likeness deal fell through.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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

Hi, Gators fans.

We’re once again going to get straight into the latest on highly-ranked quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada.

📃 Florida releases Rashada from scholarship

Florida on Friday officially granted Rashada, who the Gators signed during the early signing period in December after flipping him from Miami, a release from his National Letter of Intent — three days after The Associated Press reported that he requested to be let go.

Rashada’s decision came after the Gator Collective — an independent fundraising group that’s loosely tied to the university and pays student-athletes for use of their name, image and likeness — failed to honor a four-year deal worth more than $13 million, a person familiar with the situation told the AP.

Rashada failed to enroll with other signees days, and the 19-year-old eventually returned to the West Coast.

Both the 247 Sports Composite and the On3 Consensus have Rashada — from Pittsburg, California — as a four-star player in the 2023 class. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound quarterback threw for 5,275 yards at Pittsburg last season, with 59 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

He is free to enroll elsewhere without having to enter the transfer portal.

READ MORE: AP source: Florida QB Rashada asks for release amid NIL mess | Florida releases QB Rashada from scholarship to end breakup

The latest episode of Gators Breakdown gives reaction to the Rashada news.

Also in that podcast episode, Gators Breakdown host David Waters and Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, are joined by Seth Varnadore, with Varnadore Films, to break down quarterback Graham Mertz’s game.

The transfer of Mertz from Wisconsin to Florida is even more significant now that Rashada will no longer be going to Gainesville.

Rashada is the fifth scholarship quarterback that the Gators have lost in the past month. Starter Anthony Richardson declared for the 2023 NFL draft. Backup Jalen Kitna was dismissed following his arrest on child pornography charges. And Emory Jones and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson transferred last spring.

🏀 Gators men’s basketball splits road games

The Florida men’s basketball team split its two games on the road last week.

The first was a road matchup last Wednesday against Texas A&M, which beat Florida 66-63 earlier this year in Gainesville.

Florida mounted a second-half rally and had a possession with 2.5 seconds remaining, but guard Myreon Jones’ 3-pointer with a defender draped on him was off the mark.

Jones scored 10 points, and forward Colin Castleton had 14 points, along with 13 rebounds.

“I think you’ve got two good teams that compete really hard, have an identity of defending and being physical. There weren’t a lot of easy baskets out there tonight on either side,” coach Todd Golden said after the game.

The Gators then headed to Starkville to face Mississippi State this past Saturday and left with a 61-59 win — their second road win against a Southeastern Conference team this season. Florida had a strong defensive performance, while Castleton totaled 13 points and guard Will Richard finished with 12.

“First of all, it’s been no secret, we’ve talked a lot about how we’re going to get off to a better start. Obviously, tonight we did that, and I was really proud of the way we jumped out on them. We had a 16-point lead at one point in the first half — hard to do. Obviously, it felt like they were going to come back on us a little bit. I didn’t expect to hold the lead like that all game, but just to give ourselves that head start was huge. We were probably a little too tentative in the second half, but a little bit of that is human nature trying to hold onto the lead as opposed to being really aggressive. Mississippi State playing like they’ve got nothing to lose in the second half, knocking down some shots, it ended up being a game that we expected — a blow-for-blow, team that gets the last couple stops is probably going to find a way to win,” Golden said after the victory. “For us to do this on the road, I think speaks volumes to the growth of our guys and the progress we’ve made over the last month because this is a game that would’ve probably been really hard for us to win a month ago.”

GAME RECAPS: Texas A&M holds off Florida rally for 7th straight win | Castleton, Richard help Florida top Mississippi State 61-59

This week, the Gators (11-8, 4-3 SEC) will host South Carolina at 7 p.m. Wednesday before heading to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on Kansas State at 6 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be on ESPN 2.

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