Five potential impact freshmen in 2023

In late December of 2022, Billy Napier and his Gators’ staff managed to finish with a near top-10 class in the 2023 recruiting cycle. A total of 16 commits enrolled earlier this spring with four more expected on campus this summer.

With several different positions lacking depth on both sides of the ball, the door is open for multiple freshmen on this roster to have a major impact.

Gator country provides you with five potential impact freshmen this upcoming season.

Andy Jean

Freshman wide receiver Andy Jean is everything you look for in a skill player when it comes to play-making ability, body frame and route running skills. After turning heads and receiving high praise all spring, I expect Jean to be a key weapon for the Gators’ offense this season, especially after the departure of Xzavier Henderson this past April.

Jean recorded 68 total receptions for 1,446 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his career at Miami Northwestern High School as a four-star prospect, while averaging 58.4 yards per game as a senior. The 6-1, 195-pound receiver had a career game against IMG Academy, finishing with 122 yards and two touchdowns on just six receptions. Jean is a proven receiver that has shown the ability to dominate against tough competition.

 With a relatively young wide receiver room, I see Andy Jean having a similar impact to what we saw with running back Trevor Etienne during his freshman season.

Kelby Collins

With Princely Umanmielen shifting to OLB this spring, there’s plenty of room for Kelby Collins to work his way into the rotation coming off the edge.

Collins has a college-ready frame at a young age and the potential to bully opposing offensive linemen at 6-4, 277 pounds. The highly touted four-star prospect out of Gardendale, Alabama was the No. 50 overall recruit ranked by On3 and recorded 239 total tackles (158 solo) with an average of 7.7 tackles a game.

“Kelby being, I think one of the — you just turn the tape on, one of the more polished, ready to play players in the country. Just fundamentally advanced and really a violent player, plays with effort,” Napier said on Collins.

This staff is very high on Collins. It’ll be interesting to see how often Collins rotates in as he develops and the season progresses.

Aidan Mizell

The 6-2, 171-pound receiver out of Boone High School in Orlando, Florida is the type of player Billy Napier and this staff want to recruit on offense — pure speed. The former four-star recruit recorded 47 receptions for 1,003 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, while running track on the side. An injury sidelined Mizell for the majority of the 2022 season.

Mizell placed at the 2021 and 2022 FHSAA State Finals and holds career-best times in the 400m at 46.99 and 100m at 10.65. This speed didn’t go unnoticed as the freshman held 36 total offers from schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

Again, this wide receiver room is young, and I imagine there will be a heavy rotation throughout the season. Mizell has also been a player coaches rave about. He flashed big play-making ability in the spring game back in April.

Knijeah Harris

After many departures and injuries on the offensive line over the last year, Knijeah Harris has moved into the discussion as a player who could find playing time and have a big impact on the offensive line this season.

Harris was ranked as the No. 1 center in the country by ESPN and has proved his versatility at all three interior spots on the offensive line. This makes the former four-star a great addition on an offensive line looking to add impactful players.

The 6-3, 322-pound lineman is someone who I expect to be a plug-and-play type player early on in his career.

Ja’Keem Jackson

The former four-star out of Osceola High School is a former offensive skill player who made the switch to defensive back and didn’t disappoint. Jackson intercepted three passes in just four games as a junior and had 36 receptions for 548 yards and four touchdowns.

Coach Corey Raymond and this staff are super high on Jackson, and I see him sliding into the rotation at cornerback and earning significant playing time as a freshman. The 6-1, 183-pound corner had 80 total tackles (50 solo) in his high school career.

“He’s going to be real good. He has a chance to be special, we just got to keep him going, keep him understand what we want, the details of playing the position,” Raymond said on Jackson. “At the end of the day, it’s about your athleticism but there’s a lot of details in the position that you have to learn, and it’s going to be changing every play.”

These five freshmen stand out to me the most when it comes to potential production early on. I expect all five to see the field and have an impact on this 2023 football team.

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.