Ranking Florida’s position groups from best to worst

With the transfer portal closed and Florida currently over the scholarship limit, the Gators’ 2024 roster is likely set in stone. Gator Country ranks Florida’s position groups in order from best to worst.

Before I start my ranking, I will point out that it takes into account talent, depth, and reliability.

1. Running Back

(Expected depth chart)

RB1: Montrell Johnson

RB2: Treyaun Webb

RB3: Jadan Baugh

Florida will not have issues at the running back position in5 2024, even after losing Trevor Etienne to the Georgia Bulldogs via the transfer portal. Montrell Johnson is back for his senior year after leading the Gators in rushing over the past two seasons. The Louisiana native feels like he left a lot on the field in 2023 and should be primed for a breakout year in 2024. He’s faster and more agile than you think given his 5’11, 213-pound frame and is in the best shape of his life. Johnson posted a broken tackle rate of 35.53% a year ago, which ranks 7th in the SEC. His 3.35 average yards after contact and 15.79 explosive run rate are respectable metrics as well. Johnson has never rushed for less than 5.4 yards per carry in his time at Florida and has combined for 15 rushing touchdowns in the last two season. He also takes care of the football as he’s only fumbled twice in his entire career.

Behind Johnson is sophomore Treyaun Webb, who averaged 6.3 yards per carry on 26 attempts as Florida’s third running back in 2023.

My dark horse breakout running back candidate is true freshman Jadan Baugh. His combination of speed, vision, agility, balance, and size makes him a threat at all three levels of the defense. Baugh stands at 6’1, 237 pounds, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on his movements.

The running back position will never be an issue under assistant coach Jabbar Juluke. The reliability and upside of the group makes them Florida’s best position group in 2024.

2. Cornerback

(Expected depth chart)

CB1: Jason Marshall, Ja’Keem Jackson, Teddy Foster

CB2: Devin Moore, Dijon Johnson or Cormani McClain

Star: Aaron Gates or Sharif Denson, Josiah Davis

Florida’s cornerback room has the best mix of talent and depth out of any unit on the roster. However, there are a few question marks keeping the unit from the No.1 spot on my list.

Jason Marshall has started 32 games in his three-year career, combining for 78 tackles, two interceptions, and 23 pass deflections. The concern surrounding Marshall is that he played his best football in 2021 as a true freshman and hasn’t shown a high level of consistency on the field since. In 2023, he allowed 24.2 yards per reception and five touchdowns, both were team highs amongst players with 120+ snaps. Before the 2023 season Marshall was projected in the first round of some mock drafts. Under the new direction of Will Harris, Marshall will look to elevate his game with what should be an improved Gator defense.

My breakout candidate at the position is Devin Moore. The 6’3, 197-pound cornerback has all the intangibles and has played well when he isn’t sidelined with in injury. Moore was the Gators’ highest rated defender in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed just five receptions for 30 yards on 12 targets while playing in eight games (194 snaps). Moore’s biggest issue is staying healthy enough to see the football field as injuries have haunted him throughout his two years in Gainesville. Moore feels stronger and faster than ever and is ready to break out in 2024.

A trio of sophomores in Ja’Keem Jackson, Cormani McClain, and Dijon Johnson are the next in line on the depth chart. Jackson and McClain both ranked as top five cornerbacks in the 2023 high school class (McClain No.1) while Dijon Johnson graded as a safety but was the 162nd overall recruit, according to 247 sports.

Cornerback is a position that could easily end up being Florida’s strength in 2024.

3. Safety

(Expected depth chart)

S1: Asa Turner, DJ Douglas, Greg Smith

S2: Jordan Castell, Trikweze Bridges or Bryce Thornton

Florida’s safety unit is one of, if not the deepest units on the roster. There are five legitimate contenders for two starting spots on the Gators’ backend. Not only are Jordan Castell and Bryce Thornton back after combining for 979 snaps and 15 starts a year ago, but the Gators added three experienced seniors via the transfer portal.

Asa Turner is one player that I’m particularly looking forward to in 2024. The 6’3, 212-pound safety is fresh off a National Championship appearance where he logged 42 snaps for Washinton. Turner has played in 43 career games including 28 starts in five years at the collegiate level.

4. Wide Receiver

(Expected depth chart)

WR: Eugene Wilson, Kahliel Jackson, Ja’Quavion Fraziars

WR: Chimere Dike, Tank Hawkins, TJ Abrams

WR: Elijhah Badger, Marucs Burke, Andy Jean or Aidan Mizell

Florida’s addition of Arizona State WR Elijhah Badger moved the unit up my position rankings this week. The Gators now have what is expected to be a steady trio of Eugene Wilson, Chimere Dike, and Elijhah Badger.

‘Star power’ factors into these rankings, and Florida absolutely has that in Eugene Wilson.

The Gators have a good mix of veteran and young talent in their wide receiver room, which shouldn’t be a problem if the group can stay healthy.

5. Quarterback

(Expected depth chart)

QB1: Graham Mertz

QB2: DJ Lagway

QB3: Clay Millen

Graham Mertz is back for his 6th season of college football and second in Florida’s system. Coming off the best season of his career, Mertz should take another jump in 2024, providing a sense of stability and comfortability at the position. Behind the veteran, the Gators welcome five-star QB DJ Lagway to their roster, who will immediately serve as the backup to Mertz. Lagway put his talents on display during Florida’s Orange and Blue game, showcasing his pure arm talent and dual threat abilities. The third string QB is expected to be Clay Millen, who set the NCAA record for completion percentage for a freshman in 2022 at Colorado State (72.2). Millen earned a Freshman All-American bid for his 1,910 yards, ten touchdown season.

6. Linebacker

(Expected depth chart)

LB1: Shemer James, Derek Wingo, Jaden Robinson

LB2: Grayson Howard, Myles Graham, Aaron Chiles

Florida should feel good with Shemar James and Grayson Howard as starting linebackers. The concern within the unit is the lack of experience. Shemar James, Derek Wingo, and Myles Graham were absent for the majority of Florida’s spring practice due to injury. True freshman Aaron Chiles will enroll this summer. That’s four linebackers who are expected to be in the rotation that didn’t get the valuable reps in spring camp.

Grayson Howard impressed the staff this spring after a promising freshman campaign at South Carolina. Howard left spring camp as one of Florida’s top linebackers. Shemar James has star potential as well.

7. Defensive Line

(Expected depth chart)

DE: Justus Boone, Tyreak Sapp or LJ McCray or Kamran James

DT: Cam Jackson, Jamari Lyons, Desmond Watson

DT: Joey Slackman, Caleb Banks or Kelby Collins

Edge: TJ Searcy, George Gumbs, Quincy Ivory

Florida will trot out a similar defensive line as last season. The Gators added Joey Slackman and George Gumbs but lost Princely Umanmielen to the transfer portal, a guy that is seen as an early round draft pick in 2024 by many different outlets. The ‘Jack’ position is likely Florida’s weakest position group on the team, but the Gators are deep at SSDE and DT, making the defensive line difficult to grade. If Searcy and Gumbs can provide stability at Jack, the Gators should have a formidable defensive line. Florida also gets Justus Boone back after missing the 2023 season with an injury. He’s expected to start along the defensive line.

8. Offensive Line

(Expected depth chart)

LT: Austin Barber, Devon Manuel

LG: Knijeah Harris, Christian Williams

C: Jake Slaughter, Rod Kearney

RG: Damieon George, Bryce Lovett

RT: Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson, Kamryn Waites

Florida has the depth on the offensive line that the staff believes is the best it’s been under Billy Napier. However, there’s still several question marks entering the 2024 season. The Gators need Austin Barber to stay healthy, and the staff is optimistic that will be the case. Florida will also need one of either Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson or Devon Manuel to provide SEC quality play at right tackle. Guard is a concern for me in 2024, but the Gators like what they have in some of their younger guys.

9. Tight End

(Expected depth chart)

TE1: Hayden Hansen, Tony Livingston

TE2: Arlis Boardingham, Keon Zipperer or Amir Jackson

Florida returns starting tight ends Hayden Hansen and Arlis Boardingham, so it’s fair to expect a decent sized jump from the duo next season. The issue with the unit is the lack of depth. Senior tight end Keon Zipperer is still returning from an ACL injury and it’s unknown what kind of impact he will have in his final season. Outside of that, it’s true freshman Amir Jackson and sophomore Tony Livingston, who primarily played on special teams a year ago. Napier runs plenty of two-tight end sets, which makes the depth a major concern for me.


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.