Gators may need to rely on freshmen offensive linemen for quality depth in 2023

Assistant coaches Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton led the Gators’ offensive line to a productive 2022 season. Florida averaged 5.5 yards per carry, ranking 8th in FBS. Their 16 sacks allowed ranks T-25th in FBS. 

The offseason departures of Richard Gouraige, Ethan White, O’Cyrus Torrence, and Michael Tarquin have created question marks surrounding the unit.

The Gators signed three offensive linemen on early signing day, who may get a real shot at contributing early on in their careers. 

“This offensive line group, I’m really excited about this offensive line group,” Billy Napier said during his early signing day press conference. 


The 6-3, 336-pound interior offensive lineman is likely the most ready to play of the group. Harris started as a freshman for St. Lucie West Centennial before transferring to the IMO Academy, where he was a three-year starter. 

“Knijeah’s a guy who’s been at IMG for three years. He’s one of the more physically ready,” Napier said. “Did a great job this off-season. I thought he really changed his body in this past off-season, played great as a senior. Just great presence about him, always got a smile on his face.”

“You go around the IMG campus, just the way people talk about him, the respect that they have for him,” Napier said. “Great family. Certainly he’ll be here early. And a guy, you know those IMG guys, it’s almost like they’ve been at college already to some degree.”

Harris held 29 offers, including Alabama, Georgia, FSU, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, USC, and Texas A&M.

Harris isn’t a proven pass blocker just yet, but he’s a dynamic guard in the run block and has played a lot of football throughout his high school career. Harris has experience snapping the ball and the Gators’ staff has flirted with the idea of starting him at center. 


The former FSU commit and Orange Park High School product signed with the Florida Gators on Wednesday.

“If you want to turn film on and say, okay, who’s got the best tape? I would argue Roderick Kearney’s film is some of the most impressive tape of any offensive lineman in the country,” Napier said. “This guy’s a really unique player. He’s driven. He’s focused. He’s got discipline. He’s always doing the extra, very bright. He’s got an edge about him.”

Napier continued to not only brag about his signees, but their families as well.

“His mama’s a phenomenal lady. Just a great family there. Really enjoyed them,” Napier said.

Kearney held 32 offers, including Georgia, FSU, Miami, Oregon, Tennessee, LSU, and Michigan.

The 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman is the most versatile OL in the class. He could play either tackle spots but will likely land at guard or center for the Gators. 


Bryce Lovett started his high school career at right tackle before switching to right guard for his senior season at Rockledge High School. 

Lovett held 15 offers, including Arkansas, Kentucky, UCF, Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Indiana. 

“Bryce Lovett is 6’5″, 350 pounds. Bryce is very young for his age. Probably should be a junior. Still very much growing,” Napier said. “ I thought his senior film is really impressive. Certainly he’s a guy who gets in the program and grows a bit, I think he’s got a bright future in front of him.”

Lovett is the least likely of the three to contribute early on in his career as he could be considered a project for Gators. 

With the surprising losses of Ethan White and Michael Tarquin to the transfer portal, Napier will look to add more from the high school and college ranks. 

“Three good ones there, and hopefully we’ll add some more,” Napier said. 

Tackle Caden Jones is the only remaining target for the Gators. He’ll commit on January 7th and will choose between Texas A&M and Florida. 

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.