Chomp: Jaden Rashada & Gators saga spotlights NIL issues; date announced for spring game; Florida’s 2024 class adds 4-star LB

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25: A detailed view of Florida Gators and SEC logos on a pylon during the game between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) (Rob Foldy, 2017 Rob Foldy)

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

Hi, Florida fans,

We’re jumping straight into all of the Gators news from over the past week.

🔦 Rashada case puts spotlight on NIL & recruiting issues

National signing day is Wednesday, and among the unsigned blue-chippers is Jaden Rashada.

The four-star quarterback from California signed with Florida in December but asked for and was granted his release after an endorsement agreement with a collective that was potentially worth more than $13 million fell through, Associated Press college football writer Ralph Russo writes.

The ill-fated deal between Rashada and the Gator Collective — one that helped persuade him to back off a previous verbal commitment to Miami and a name, image and likeness offer from a collective that works with Hurricanes athletes — should be a cautionary tale for recruiting in the NIL era, Russo says.

FULL STORY: Rashada case in Florida highlights issues in NIL, recruiting

Mike Caspino, an NIL attorney who has worked with numerous college athletes on deals with collectives — including Rashada’s with Miami — told Russo that the situation involving Rashada and Florida is indicative of systemic problems with NIL and recruiting.

“Such as a lack of adequate representation on both sides, such as a lack of documentation, such as we need to treat these as the business deals that they are,” Caspino said. “And in any business deal, we’re going to have a contract that sets forth everybody’s obligations, and the benefits everybody receives from the contract. And we don’t do that.”

🗓️ Date announced for Orange & Blue Game

Florida announced the Orange and Blue Game is scheduled for Thursday, April 13, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Last year’s Orange and Blue Game was also held on a Thursday.

The Gators said more details about the spring football game — including streaming and broadcast information, the kickoff time, and fan initiatives — will be announced later.

🏈 4-star linebacker in 2024 class commits to Florida

Florida’s 2024 recruiting class added another four-star prospect when linebacker Adarius Hayes from Largo committed to the Gators.

Gators Breakdown host David Waters, in the latest episode of the podcast, discusses Hayes’ commitment and the Gators’ class of 2024 so far.

Currently, the class has four verbal commitments.

🐊 Reviewing Gators’ 2023 transfer portal additions

After Florida had a mass exodus of transfers out of the program, getting quality depth was a must in the first transfer portal window.

In another Gators Breakdown episode, David and Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, break down the ten incoming transfers the Gators acquired.

🏀 Gators reunite with Johnson at K-State

The Gators men’s basketball team split its two games last week.

Last Wednesday, Florida pulled away in the second half to defeat South Carolina 81-60. Forward Colin Castleton scored 18 points, guard Kowacie Reeves had 15, and guard Riley Kugel recorded 14.

Then on Saturday, the Gators were in Manhattan, where they lost 64-50 to Kansas State in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. After scoring 13 points for the Wildcats, former Florida forward Keyontae Johnson gathered with a few of his old teammates.

Johnson collapsed on the Gators’ sideline during a game against Florida State just over two years ago. He spent 10 days in the hospital and never played another meaningful minute for Florida, whose medical staff would not clear him. He wound up at Kansas State, where doctors medically cleared him.

After the game, coach Todd Golden was asked whether his players could set aside the emotions of competing against Johnson.

“I thought so, to the best of their abilities. Obviously, a very unique situation, someone that they care a lot about and spent a lot of time with. It was unavoidable for us, in terms of having this matchup,” Golden said. “With all of those variables in the mix, I thought our group did a good job just not allowing it to affect them too much from a mental perspective.”

Castleton led the Gators with 13 points, while guards Myreon Jones and Will Richard each had 11 in the loss.

GAME RECAPS: Florida leaves Gamecocks behind in 2nd half of 81-60 win | Johnson helps lead K-State to 64-50 win over Florida

Up next: Florida (12-9, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) will host Tennessee this Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Last January, center Jason Jitoboh took a finger to his left eye at Tennessee and spent the better part of a year trying to get right. He’s had four surgeries already and might have a fifth following the season.

So when the Gators face the Volunteers this week in Gainesville, AP reporter Mark Long writes, Jitoboh will be focused on finding some closure on a trying and unexpected journey that started with a routine rebounding effort during a midweek game in Knoxville and continues a little more than 12 months later.

“I’ve had this game marked for a while,” Jitoboh said.

READ MORE: Jitoboh’s recovery coming into focus year after eye injury

Wednesday night’s game will be on ESPN 2.

Then the Gators will head to Lexington to take on Kentucky this Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m., and the game will be on ESPN.

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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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