Fall Camp Preview: Breaking Down Florida’s Wide Receiver Room

Florida football is less than a month away from the start of fall camp, which means Gator Country will begin previewing the Gators’ 2024 roster that consists of 35 new scholarship players.

I’ll start with the wide receivers, a position group I’m particularly excited about. Admittedly, I was concerned about the unit entering the offseason after Florida lost Ricky Pearsall to the first round of the NFL Draft, but the additions of transfer receivers Chimere Dike and Elijhah Badger should provide the Gators with more stability and depth than they had in 2023.

Sophomore Eugene Wilson

Eugene Wilson was one of the more exciting players on the field as a true freshman in 2023 and should be again this season. The 5’10, 181-pound speedy receiver led the Gators in touchdowns catches with six and finished second on the team in receptions (61), receiving yards (538) and receiving yards per game (53.8) a season ago.

Wilson picked up right where he left off in Florida’s Orange and Blue spring game, exploding for 160 yards and one touchdown on eight catches.

“Just so explosive in what he does,” senior quarterback Graham Mertz said on Wilson during spring camp. “He’s taking a big step in understanding route running, and I think that’s one thing that learning from Ricky and then bringing a guy in like Chim that understand how to get open on certain routes, and to be able to talk through that has been big for him. He’s really taken a huge step in route running, which I’ve seen.”

The Tampa, Florida native used the offseason to make significant strides in the weight room, putting on 11 pounds from the end of the season until spring camp. Wilson believes the added weight will help him with yards after the catch.

“I feel like yards after catch. I done put on a few pounds,” Wilson said on the strides he made through the spring. “I felt like there was a lot left on the field last year, so I made sure to be able to get after the catch and all that. Our strength staff got me in real good shape.”

The expectations for Wilson are high entering his second season. It’s in Florida’s best interest to get him the ball in space early and often on Saturday’s, giving opposing defenses different looks as he’s effective in the slot, out wide, and in the jet sweep game. Wilson’s acceleration, elusiveness, and ball skills make him a feared receiver in the SEC.

Senior Elijhah Badger

The addition of Elijhah Badger could go down as one of the more impactful transfers for the Gators this offseason.

In his last two seasons with the Sun Devils, Badger combined for 1,579 yards and 10 touchdowns on 135 catches, establishing himself as the clear-cut No.1 option in Kenny Dillingham’s offense.

Continuity at the quarterback position has been pretty much nonexistent for the Sun Devils over the last two seasons, having relied on six different quarterbacks during that span (four in 2023), making Badger’s high level of production even more impressive.

Pro Football Focus credited Badger with an offensive grade of 76.7 in 2023, which ranks first amongst Sun Devils’ receivers and first on their offense among anyone with 150+ snaps. Badger graded out as the 61st best WR in the FBS among eligible receivers in 2023, according to PFF. A similar story in 2022, where Badger posted an offensive grade of 76.1, ranking first amongst ASU wide receivers and third on the offense.

Badger improved dramatically in yards after the catch in 2023, raising his YAC per reception from 4.9 to 8.4, totaling 546 YAC yards a year ago. Badger also saw a slight increase in snaps in the slot and was utilized significantly more in the screen game, likely due to the number of quarterback injuries Arizona State had in 2023. Badger caught 38 passes behind the LOS, resulting in 227 yards for an average of nearly six yards per catch. Badger is a threat in all three levels of the defense.

Badger has elite balls skills and displays great balance throughout his routes. Badger’s route-running grade of 77.5 ranked first on the Sun Devils’ offense in 2023. The Sacramento, CA native dropped just two passes on 99 targets in 2023, holding a drop grade of 87.3, which also ranked first on ASU. Badger also shows the ability to high point the football on contested catches having hauled in 16 throughout the last two seasons, leading Arizona State in that category both seasons.

I have yet to see Badger play in person, but it’s hard not to get excited about what you see on film. Badger is another guy that Florida can throw out wide, in the slot, and use in the screen game. He has the two things Billy Napier and Billy Gonzales have consistently looked for when recruiting receivers: speed and versatility. Florida needed someone that can take the top off the defense, and I think the 6’2, 190-pound receiver is capable of that given his skillset.

Senior Chimere Dike

Graham Mertz’ chemistry with former teammate Chimere Dike is something that will stand out on the football field in 2024. According to sources, the duo connected a number of times throughout Florida’s first two spring scrimmages and performed exceptionally well.

“I tell my players all the time, that continuity between you and a quarterback those repetitions are built over time. That quarterback gets a rhythm for who you are. Everybody runs routes a little differently. Everybody’s a little faster, some might be slower, some might be a faster step, but they’ve kind of hooked up and they got that rhythm back right now. They’re both looking really, really good,” Florida WR coach Billy Gonzales said on Mertz and Dike.

At Wisconsin with Mertz in 2022, Dike hauled in 47 catches for 689 yards and six touchdowns while earning an All-Big Ten honorable mention for his efforts. Dike posted an offensive grade of 74.4 in 2022, which was Wisconsin’s 4th highest offensive grade amongst players with 150+ snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Dike is faster than he gets credit for, having ran a 4.46 40-yard dash in his 4th year at Wisconsin. I expect Dike to play in the slot for the Gators this season, a role he should be comfortable in.

Who’s next?

The depth after these three is likely what’s going to make or break the unit. The good news for Florida? They have talent all over the room. The bad news? It’s vastly unproven and inconsistent.

Florida is going to need a few players to make a significant jump if they want this room to improve in 2024. The first player I turn to is redshirt junior Marcus Burke, who has shown flashes throughout his career but hasn’t been able to put it all together on the field. Burke is a promising athlete standing at 6’4 and provides this unit with a true deep ball target.

Andy Jean and Aidan Mizell were a part of the talented 2023 freshman class, but maybe didn’t see the field as much as they would have liked in their first season. Mizell has game changing speed while Jean is a clean and balanced route runner. If you can get production from Burke and one of either Mizell or Jean, the wide receiver unit starts to look like a strength of the team.

Then you can look at freshmen WR Tank Hawkins and TJ Abrams, who bring even more speed to the roster. Hawkins logged a 4.37 40-yard dash this summer, which was the fastest time on the Gators. Your guess is as good as mine regarding how much playing time the youngsters will get in 2024. That likely depends on how well they can transition to the speed of the college game and if the players I mentioned previously take that next step on the field.

Florida also returns redshirt junior Kahliel Jackson, who logged 483 snaps in 2023.


(subject to change)

WR1: Eugene Wilson, Adian Mizell, TJ Abrams,

WR2: Elijhah Badger, Marcus Burke or Kahleil Jackson

WR3: Chimere Dike, Andy Jean, Tank Hawkins



















Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.