Four true freshmen that could make a significant impact in 2024

Gator Country provides you with four true freshmen that could make a significant impact in the 2024 season.

RB Jadan Baugh

Jadan Baugh was one of two running backs Florida added in the 2024 class (KD Daniels), both of which were early enrollees this past spring. The 6’1, 237 pound back turned heads in Florida’s Orange and Blue spring game, running for 77 yards on just 12 carries, averaging an impressive 6.4 yards per carry in the contest. Baugh posted two explosive plays including a 25-yard rush in the first quarter.

“He is what you are looking for. Not only passes the physical evaluation, but he’s a leader. He can run the route tree as a receiver. He was a Wildcat quarterback, and he played linebacker and safety too. He played the entire game. He was a very productive player,” head coach Billy Napier said on Baugh. “I think we’ll look back at that one, and that’s going to be good for the Gators. I think we saw a little flash of that today.”

The Atlanta, Georgia native possesses great vision, lateral movement, and impressive acceleration for a big bodied running back. Baugh also has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, something the Gators are planning to utilize with their running back group in 2024.

Baugh’s performance in the spring game didn’t come as a surprise to anyone close to the program. Baugh posted similar performances throughout all of Florida’s spring scrimmages as RB1 for the second team offense, according to one source.

“Their ice is breaking. Especially Jadan Baugh. That’s what’s up,” sophomore WR Eugene Wilson said on their freshman running backs. “When I first met him, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know too much about him from the recruiting angles and all that. Seeing his first couple of days at practice, I knew he was going to make some shaking, and he most definitely showcased it off today in the spring game. Most definitely.”

I currently have Jadan Baugh as RB3 behind Montrell Johnson and Treyaun Webb, but if his spring game is any indication of what we might see in the 2024 season, I’m not sure you can afford to have him off the field for too long.

DE LJ McCray

Five-star edge rusher LJ McCray ranked as the 4th overall player in the 2024 class, according to 247 sports. The first thing that jumps out to you about McCray is his collegiate ready size, standing at 6’6, 274 pounds.

“Huge. He’s a young guy. He’s just about as big as me,” DE Justus Boone said on McCray.

Not only does McCray bring size to Florida’s edge rushing unit, but his work ethic off the football field is standing out amongst his peers.

“He learns well. He’s attentive in our meetings. His attentive and he’s willing to listen, and that’s like the biggest part, especially for being a young kid,” Boone added on McCray. “Being highly ranked and highly recruited, it’s kind of hard to step off your pedestal and listen, but he’s done a great job with that, with listening from the coaches and listening to us older players that know a little bit more.”

Edge coach Mike Peterson shares a similar message.

“He’s a worker, I’ll tell you that,” Peterson said on McCray. “You know, the guy, he’s meeting a lot. Early in the process, it was every night, he was up there and we was getting it. As a coach, that’s exciting. When you’ve got a young guy to come in and wants to be great, you know what I mean? A lot of times you just have to, you know, de-recruit them guys, you know, break them and let them know the recruitment process is over. But you could tell his upbringing, Mom and Dad, during the process they did a really, really good job with him.”

The Daytona Beach Mainland product racked up 80 tackles (37 TFL), 13 sacks, 3 FF, 2 PBU and an INT in his senior season.

“Could be deployed early on in collegiate career as a situational defender. Bonafide NFL upside as his best football looks to be well ahead of him,” 247’s Andrew Ivins wrote in his evaluation of McCray on 09/15/23.

McCray is currently working at defensive end alongside Justus Boone, Tyreak Sapp, and Kamran James.

LB Myles Graham 

Myles Graham, son of former Gators’ running Earnest Graham, enrolled at Florida this past spring. The four-star linebacker missed the majority of spring football following a procedure on his back, and injury that the Buchholz product has been dealing with since high school.

While missing spring camp is not ideal from a developmental standpoint, it’s still very possible the true freshman finds early playing time given the youth and inexperience in the room. Mannie Nunnery entering the portal opens up a spot for one of the younger linebackers to crack the two-deep this fall.

“Stud. Stud. Myles Graham, he’s a stud,” LB Shemar James said on Graham. “My little bro now. I gotta coach him up, make him the best linebacker he can be. He’s got history here, so when he walks in, he’s ready to work. No slack at all.”

“He’s physical. He’s physical, he can run, he can hit, he can disrupt, all that stuff. So it’s kind of just getting him in the playbook so he can play fast,” James added on Graham.

Graham is expected to make a full recovery and be back on the football field in May.

QB DJ Lagway

Five-star QB DJ Lagway just finished his first semester as a Florida Gator, primarily taking reps with the second team offense throughout spring camp. While the Willis, Texas native is not expected to start in front of 6th year senior Graham Mertz in 2024, being the backup QB comes with a huge responsibility and could lead to significant playing time.

You also can’t rule out the possibility that Lagway sees the field in all 12 of Florida’s games. I can confirm that the Gators’ staff has been working with Lagway on packages that they aren’t with Mertz, such as QB run plays.

In his first action in The Swamp, Lagway completed 12-21 passes for 173 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception during the Orange and Blue spring game.

“I would say he’s impressed me with his ability to learn and retain information,” Napier said on Lagway. “He picks it up really quickly. His ability to take it from meeting room to walkthrough and then to do it in a practice setting.”

The arm talent Lagway possesses is undeniable as is his versatility as a dual threat quarterback. The next step for Lagway is the game management piece, according to Napier.

“Managing the situation thinking of your decision-making relative to the game and the team within that setting. I think he’s done a really good job in a practice setting but today was new for him,” Napier said of Lagway’s spring game performance. “Every day is a new learning experience for him but he’s a quick learner and he did a lot of good today. I think he made some plays with his feet, played with the twos most of the day. I think that’s where he’s at. I think he’s got physical talent, he’s picked it up quickly and now it’s just about the game-management piece next.”


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.


  1. Thank you Nick. Of the four players listed Jadan Baugh emerged from the spring game as the biggest surprise for me. Very encouraging considering Treavor’s departure.

    Very excited to follow these young men as they begin their careers at UF.