Big changes coming to the offensive line in 2023

The Florida Gator offensive line has big shoes to fill going into spring practice when looking at the amount of success the group had in 2022. 

With new additions and added depth to different areas on the line, the Gators have a great chance to pick up right where they left off last season, setting the bar even higher. 

Fortunately for the new faces around the room, coach Rob Sale loves what he sees from the group so far. 

“We say five equals one,” Sale said. “You can’t just have one good player, it takes five of us, right, playing together as a unit, and then you need more than five really, it’s just kind of a little saying there. But yeah, I like the challenge, you know. ‘22 offensive line was ‘22 – this year is gonna be a different group, right?“

Micah Mazzccua 

When looking at one of Florida’s three offensive line transfers in 2023, Mazzccua’s numbers are what stand out the most to me.

After playing 898 snaps, Mazzccua only gave up one sack, 10 quarterback hurries and three quarterback contacts in his career at Baylor as a 3-star prospect. 

“Micah is very, kind of like Cybo when it comes to you can teach a concept one time and he has it. Some guys got to take notes, write it down, do a walkthrough,” Sale said on Mazzccua. “Micah kinda just looks at you and goes ‘Alright’, you think ‘do you got it or not’, you know, he’s like ‘I got it’ and sure enough, he gets it, so. Football comes easy to him like O’Cyrus, but they’re different in their movement skills and so that’s different, but he’s a good football player, I’m going to tell you right now after day two.”

Micah Mazzccua is exactly what you look for in a player after losing a talent like O’Cyrus Torrence to the NFL. With very similar characteristics and attributes, I’d look for Mazzccua to be one of the best players — if not the best player on the offensive line this season as a junior.

Austin Barber 

As a redshirt freshman last season, Barber got his first collegiate start against USF after Michael Tarquin went down with a lower leg injury against Kentucky.

Since then, Barber has become a huge leader on this offensive line and continues to improve at the little things.

“You know, this time, being in spring, you know, he’d get beat, head down, body language, ‘get up, head up, eyes up, go the next play’. So, him as a person and as a football player has gotten so much better. But he is night and day from where he was this time last year I would say,” Sale said on Barber. “You sign a bunch of Austin Barbers around here, you’re going to have a good football program.”

Austin Barber goes to show that rankings truly don’t matter — it’s all about evaluating. 

Barber was a 3-star recruit out of Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Damieon George Jr. 

Damieon George Jr. was a 3-star prospect out of Houston, Texas where he enrolled at Alabama until transferring to Florida this past January. 

George Jr. has starting experience and will be a huge help for this Florida offensive line as a redshirt sophomore after losing both tackles in 2022. 

“He’ll stay outside for us,” Sale said on George Jr. “We’ve got inside guys, but right now obviously we’ve signed him for a tackle, and we need depth there also as well, so he’ll stay out there. But we’ve got some really, really good young inside guys we’re really happy with.”

Richie Leonard IV and Knijeah Harris 

As a junior, Richie Leonard IV has patiently waited to be a starter on this offensive line and has put in the work, losing the most weight on the team two years ago. 

“Richie Leonard right now is obviously going with the ones,” Sale said. “He’s very good football player, instinctive. You got Knijeah Harris at right guard with the twos right now, currently.”

True freshman Knijeah Harris out of IMG Academy has already turned some heads in spring practice as he’s currently running with the twos behind Leonard IV.

The added depth to the offensive line will be something to keep an eye on as spring practice rolls on. However, this is Richie Leonard’s job to lose. 

“I’ll tell you a guy that smart football player you know Kingsley’s obviously, but Richie Leonard. You know, he is smart, he communicates,” Sale said on Leonard IV. “You know, if you look at the O-line tomorrow, we play in Utah, right. The group that we wrote up there with the ones right so you got Richie and then he had Kiyaunta and Damieon switching but Richie is very smart, articulate and can communicate right which is a new guy that right there that he can communicate, get him on the same page make all this calls right.”

Both Leonard IV and Harris are former 3-star recruits and were top-50 offensive linemen coming out of high school. 

Kiyaunta Goodwin 

Kiyaunta Goodwin is one of the higher-ranked players on the offensive line for the Gators. Goodwin was the #1 player in Indiana as a 5-star prospect and the 6th-best offensive tackle in the class of 2022. The highly touted tackle went on to commit and sign with Kentucky until transferring to Florida in late January. 

“You know, his length and size, right? It’s hard to find those guys, you gotta get them,” Sale said on Goodwin. “Everybody’s working hard in recruiting to get them, to get them on your team, especially guys like him, so he’s long. He’s played left, he can play right, so it’s good to have guys like that, that’s what we need to get, more of them.”

Goodwin appeared and saw action in 11 games last season for Kentucky. The sophomore takes his work seriously and is someone who has the potential to be a major threat for this offensive line. 

“He’s done a phenomenal job with his weight since he’s been here. I mean, the guy’s here, I mean, a little bit after six every morning,” Sale said. “He’s lost like 22 pounds since he’s been here. So it’s important to him, that’s what I liked. You know, if he was struggling it wasn’t going down. And you know, then I’ve got to look at him, ‘Alright now. What’s the deal?’ But it’s important to him, that’s what what I like about him. He’s always in my office, always asking questions. So, I’m very pleased with him.”

Kingsley Eguakun and Jake Slaughter 

Kingsley Equakun is a former 3-star prospect out of Jacksonville, Florida who has plenty of experience when it comes to snapping the football for the Gators. 

After replacing a three-year starter in former center Brett Heggie, Eguakun has done a great job and has filled the shoes quite well. 

“We’ve got guys that can put their hand on the ball. You know, Kingsley’s a returning starter. Jake Slaughter is getting nothing but better,” Sale said. “Have no problem if, you know, something, you know, obviously every job is open, right? So, we’ve got a lot to go compete. If Jake keeps getting better, go push him, I would say that. But I have no problems with Jake going in the game. If we’re playing tomorrow. Jake’s a good football player.”

Jake Slaughter seems to grow more every single day and will be another player on the offensive line to look out for as he pushes for a starting position.

However, I expect Eguakun to keep his starting job at center this season. 

Jake Slaughter was also a 3-star recruit out of Sandalwood High School in Ocala, Florida back in the class of 2021. 

Potential starting OL

LT – Austin Barber (6-6, 311lbs) year: RSO

LG – Micah Mazzccua (6-5, 329lbs) year: JR

C – Kingsley Eguakun (6-3, 301lbs) year: RJR

RG – Richie Leonard IV (6-2, 317lbs) year: JR

RT – Damieon George Jr. (6-6, 369lbs) year: RSO

From what we gathered on Tuesday, these are the five players I expect to be starting on the offensive line for Florida.
Gentry Hawk
Gentry Hawk is a student at the University of Florida studying sports journalism. He is a writer and reporter for GatorCountry. You can find most of his work on Twitter @gentryhawkgc, or right here on Gator country.