Mullen surprises walk-ons Raymond, Villano


Special to

When Florida coach Dan Mullen huddled the Gators together following Monday evening’s practice inside Florida’s Indoor Practice Facility, he saved a special surprise for last.

The announcement caused a celebration as Mullen put both tight end R.J. Raymond and offensive lineman Nick Villano on scholarship.

“I had no idea it was coming,” Raymond said. “When he said it, it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It means the world to me. It shows me that these coaches see the work that I am putting in and that everything Nick and I have been doing hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

A Florida native who played at Fletcher High in the Jacksonville area, Raymond has been a mainstay on UF’s special teams units over the past two seasons. He moved to tight end last spring under the new coaching staff and has flourished in that role, catching a 58-yard touchdown pass in April’s Orange & Blue Game.

Raymond will continue playing a key role on special teams, but will also continue to compete for playing time at tight end. 

Meanwhile, Villano has yet to appear in a game at Florida, but found himself entrenched in a competition for the starting center position during fall camp.

“It was a great feeling,” Villano said of earning a scholarship. “I have been working for this for the past three years, and for this to finally come is truly a blessing for me and my family. I have been working my butt off, and a dream came true today.”

Villano is a native of Wellington and American Heritage High School.


  1. just all around great, great for these players, great for the program! We’ve had some great walkons, louis oliver, nat moore….
    And its a reminder for all of the 5 stars to realize that someone else doesn’t care what the newspaper says, they are ready for your spot on the field and in practice if you cant accomplish your assignments or have a knack for getting your name in the police reports.

  2. Did you guys see the Luke Del Rio video where he says Chester Cheetos Teeth took away Raymond’s scholarship by a freaking letter? Didn’t have the balls to tell him face to face that he was pulling his scholarship. I guess if you play with sharks along enough they’re going to bite your balls off I guess.