With fall camp right around the corner, Gator Country has started previewing the 2023 football season by breaking down each position on Florida’s roster.
Heading into fall camp, the Gators currently have a total of eight scholarship cornerbacks. After the addition of three true freshmen back in the spring, it will be interesting to see just how much this room improves with Avery Helm and Jordan Young leaving for the Big 12 Conference.
Jason Marshall Jr.
The most productive and experienced player returning at cornerback this season for Florida is Miami native Jason Marshall Jr.
The 6-1, 197-pound junior cornerback is coming off his most productive season yet, finishing with 29 tackles, eight pass breakups, one TFL, one interception and a quarterback hurry.
Marshall has started in all 13 games the last two seasons and has earned himself a first-round draft grade after recording 52 tackles, 11 pass breakups, three TFL, two interceptions and one quarterback hurry in his two seasons as a Gator. As a freshman, Marshall posted a QB rating of 59.8 when targeted and 74.7 as a sophomore.
The expectations for Marshall this season are high as he’s likely to be a captain on defense this season. Marshall looks to take the next step as a pass defender while establishing himself as one of the best cornerbacks in college football.
It’s been a tough road for the Alabama native after having season-ending surgery prior to the 2021 football season. However, Jaydon Hill has one of the best comeback stories out there and is ready to finally have a major role as a defensive back for the Gators this season.
In just his second game after returning from injury last season, Hill recorded two interceptions and took one all the way back for a 49-yard touchdown in the win over Missouri.
The 6-0, 191-pound defensive back finished the season with 24 tackles, half a sack, two pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Hill is a player the Gators need on the field when healthy. I think we should expect to see the junior play a significant role at the star position this season.
The Florida native out of Naples is a player who displayed plenty of promise as a true freshman in fall camp and in the Week 1 win over Utah last season.
After recording six total tackles, Moore was sidelined for the remainder of the 2022 football season after having season-ending shoulder surgery. If healthy to start the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Devin Moore start on the opposite side of Jason Marshall at cornerback.
The former four-star defensive back was one of the first prospects to commit to Billy Napier and was originally recruited as a safety. Moore went on to sign with Florida over Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn and LSU.
The former Georgia Bulldog saw his most action in collegiate football as a Florida Gator last season, recording 13 tackles, one interception and a pass breakup as a redshirt sophomore.
The Mansfield, Texas native also suffered a season-ending shoulder injury which sidelined him for the remainder of his 2021 season at Georgia. The 6-0, 179-pound corner will most likely be battling it out with Devin Moore for that second cornerback spot heading into August.
Prior to signing with Georgia, Kimber was a four-star prospect and the No. 7 cornerback in the 2020 recruiting class. The redshirt junior has recorded 16 total tackles, one interception and a pass breakup in his collegiate career.
You could argue that the true freshman out of Osceola High School has a higher ceiling than any other Gators’ defensive back heading into 2023.
The former four-star and No. 49 overall prospect in the 2023 class was a player Coach Corey Raymond was extremely high on from the beginning. The pass catcher-turned-pass defender did not disappoint after making the switch over to defense, recording seven total interceptions in his high school career.
The 6-1, 183-pound freshman is still very new to this program, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jackson get early playing time in certain situations this season.
Sharif Denson will be another player to keep an eye on at Florida as he’s put on significant muscle mass at 184 pounds. Coach Raymond is a big fan of Denson’s game and wants to see the freshman get some work in at the Star (nickel) position this season.
“He’s a nickel guy, he’s doing that. He’s doing good,” Coach Raymond said in the spring. “It’s a hard spot, but he’s doing better. He’s going to be good. Like I tell him, you can’t rush it man. Just keep working, just keeping working. You know, sometimes kids want it right now. He’s just gotta keep working.”
The former four-star defensive back was a Top 250 overall prospect out of Jacksonville, Florida in the 2023 recruiting cycle. I’d expect to see Denson ease his way into the rotation during his time at Florida.
The former four-star prospect out of Moreland, Georgia is another player who played both receiver and cornerback in high schoo . Gates appeared in nine games with Trinity Christian in 2022, recording 32 tackles (18 solo) and an interception.
The 6-1, 190-pound freshman chose the Gators over Michigan, Florida State, Kentucky, LSU and Miami.
Other players to look out for
The remaining players in the cornerback room this year include Ethan Pouncey, Javion Toombs, Sebastian Vargas and Peter Asumani.
Overall, the talent level in the cornerback room has taken a step up from where it was last season. If the unit can stay healthy throughout the course of the season, I think this room has a chance to significantly improve under this staff.