What has happened to all of the Gators to transfer out after Billy Napier’s hire?

The outgoing half of Billy Napier’s initial roster overhaul is likely complete. Graduate transfers can still leave at any time, but the window for non-graduates to enter the portal has closed. As of right now there’s not even a whisper of any graduates thinking about leaving the Gator football program, so the exodus is likely over.

Using the 247 Sports portal tracker, I counted 37 scholarship players who’ve either transferred or entered the portal since the end of the 2021 regular season. A couple of guys did enter the portal after the team’s last game but before Napier’s hire went official, but they committed to their new schools after the decision went official. There’s no way to completely disentangle player dissatisfaction with the program post-Mullen and guys not clicking with the new coaches among the earliest transfers, and it may not have been all one or the other anyway.

The big picture

The breakdown works out to 12 players who went into the portal for the 2022 season and 25 who left for the 2023 season. So, the earlier group is about half the size of the later group.

I’m mainly going to be focusing on 35 of the 37 transfers. Antwaun Powell-Ryland and Xzavier Henderson entered the transfer portal after spring practice and haven’t chosen their destinations yet, so there’s nothing to report on them right now. A lot of guys around the country are still figuring it out, probably including one or more players that will eventually wind up in Gainesville, so let’s give them some time to decide.

Of those 35 other players to leave, 22 of them went to P5 schools, eight went to G5 schools, three went down a level to FCS, and two have no destination. Regarding those last two, Mordecai McDaniel was cut from the team over summer of 2022 and doesn’t appear to have found a destination from the portal. (Update note: McDaniel’s Hudl profile lists him as being at the JUCO Iowa Western for 2022, but the team’s ’22 roster doesn’t list him.) Ethan White entered over the winter and had been committed to USC, but that fell through and he remains uncommitted.

Not all P5 transfers are the same, of course. Only Michael Tarquin (USC), Jalen Lee (LSU), and Gerald Mincey (Tennessee) transferred to places that have won a national title since the BCS era began. And, sometimes it’s not the same for a single school across time. Kemore Gamble and Demarckus Bowman transferring to UCF for the 2022 season count as G5. However since the Knights and others are moving to the Big 12 this year, Trent Whittemore (UCF) and Jordan Young (Cincinnati) transferring for the ’23 season do count as P5 where they wouldn’t previously.

The early crowd

Among the 12 who left before the 2022 season began, it appears that three of them have come to the end of their playing careers. I already mentioned McDaniel above. Fenley Graham transferred to Florida A&M in summer of 2022, but it looks like he never played and is not on the Rattlers’ 2023 roster. Gamble exhausted his eligibility and hasn’t signed an undrafted free agent (UDFA) contract.

Two more did manage to score UDFA contracts, those being Mohamoud Diabate (transferred to Utah) and Jacob Copeland (Maryland). Both could’ve returned to school using a covid waiver but chose to try their luck in the pros.

Two more have transferred twice since leaving Gainesville. Emory Jones was initially the starter at Arizona State but lost the job during the season. He’s now at Cincy. Lamar Goods publicly committed to FCS Northern Colorado, but there’s no record of him playing in 2022. It’s since been announced that he’s returning to his home country of Canada to play at the University of Manitoba.

Diabate, Mincey, and Ty’Ron Hopper (Missouri) were whole-season starters at their destinations. Copeland and Gamble were regular rotation guys. Bogle (Michigan State) was too for four games before missing the final eight to injury.

Carlos Del Rio-Wilson was the backup at Syracuse and did get to start one game when the regular starter was out hurt. Bowman had to sit out the season at UCF because it was his second transfer, having begun his career at Clemson. Nonetheless, the Knights did feature his speed quite a bit at the 2023 spring game.

The later leavers

The Gators will see all four of the transfers they lost to SEC schools. Lee is at LSU, Nick Elksnis went to South Carolina, Tre’Vez Johnson joins Hopper at Missouri, and Joshua Braun’s landing spot of Arkansas rotates onto the slate this year.

Several schools ended up with a couple of Gators. Nebraska lured Chief Borders and Corey Collier. Pitt landed Donovan McMillon and Daejon Reynolds. Colorado picked up a pair of offensive linemen in Yousef Mugharbil and David Conner. UCF will also have two with Bowman and Whittemore. In the G5 ranks, USF got Nay’Quan Wright and Lloyd Summerall, while Temple picked up Kamar Wilcoxson and Diwun Black.

Finishing up, Avery Helm will go back home to Texas to play for national title game participant TCU. David Reese will go out west to Cal. Lorenzo Lingard will finish up his career with Joe Moorhead at Akron, Chris Thomas is at Marshall, and Griffin McDowell went to FCS Chattanooga.

SEC and Pac-12 schools got the biggest benefit with four transfers each. The Big 12 came in next with three, while Nebraska and Pitt made sure the Big Ten and ACC each got two.

The upshot

Florida could’ve used some of the players it lost before 2022. It’s hard to pick the single biggest loss, but it might’ve been Copeland. He could’ve been a top-two receiver for UF instead of being a cog in a very large rotation at Maryland. Bogle might be next since the Gators were short of edge playmakers.

Hopper probably would’ve started at linebacker, though both of the Gators’ starting inside linebackers did just get drafted. Gamble may or may not have started since blocking isn’t his best attribute. However, he would’ve been the best pass-catching target from the spot, maybe before but definitely after Keon Zipperer went down.

Among the post-2022 lost transfers, many have been replaced through the portal. Tarquin, White, Lee, Johnson, Powell-Ryland, and Henderson played the most last year among the departing players. The Gators picked up three transfer O-linemen and a pair of defensive tackles to account for the first three I listed, and new commit RJ Moten bolsters the secondary that lost Johnson. We’ll see on an edge and a receiver. Teradja Mitchell can be seen as a replacement for ’22 loss Hopper as well.

The story on these early transfers is still being written, but it’s largely been a case of making room for Napier recruits and transfers rather than devastating blows. Only four of the early transfers went on to start at their new schools, and none was drafted.

More than four will start from the later group, but there are also many more players in that group. The Gators’ depth is more challenged, but that’s what Napier’s blue chip-heavy recruiting is for. Napier is getting his guys, and it’s up to him to prove that those coming in are substantially better than those who’ve gone.

David Wunderlich
David Wunderlich is a born-and-raised Gator and a proud Florida alum. He has been writing about Florida and SEC football since 2006. He currently lives in Naples Italy, at least until the Navy stations his wife elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @Year2