Friday Night Lights sees Del Rio, others impress on UF campus

Power Springs, Georgia quarterback Carlos Del Rio throws while running drills during the annual Friday Night Lights football camp put on by the University of Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida’s Friday Night Lights event was once again a spectacle to behold.

Following Florida’s inaugural preseason practice, the Gators coaching staff hosted an instructional camp in the indoor practice facility for nearly 300 high school football players before UF’s annual recruiting showcase commenced just after 7 p.m. under the bright lights of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Those in attendance witnessed a multitude of rising underclassmen working with the Gators coaching staff throughout the night, although it was clear much of the attention centered around the powerful arm of quarterback Carlos Del Rio. 

Del Rio, a 6-foot-3, 201-pound quarterback in the 2021 class out of McEachern High in Powder Springs, Georgia, once again made the trip to Gainesville to display his talents for Dan Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson. 

While several rising signal callers were in attendance Friday, it was Del Rio who was seemingly a notch above the rest. 

And it’s a sentiment he agreed with.

“It was a great experience, a great camp. I think I performed great,” said Del Rio, who is not related to the former UF quarterback Luke Del Rio. “Coach Brian (Johnson) really liked my performance. He told me I was doing great with my throws, and he wanted me to go back to back.”

And he did, often displaying elite arm strength while hitting receiver after receiver in stride, even when his throw didn’t result in a completion. For a quarterback who has visited the Gators multiple times since picking up an offer last summer, Friday seemingly solidified his decision.

“I’m still gathering a lot of info, but I think it’s coming to a time where I’m ready to make my decision,” Del Rio said. “(Florida) is probably my top school.”

That sentiment, however, didn’t last long. 

Before leaving campus, Del Rio committed to Mullen and the Gators. 

For others, Friday served as an opportunity to re-evaluate the program. 

Four-star athlete Kamar Wilcoxson was back in Gainesville for the first time since decommitting from the program April 27. The class of 2021 prospect is still showing Florida plenty of love despite backing off his pledge as he arrived to campus sporting an orange Gators shirt and a ‘Chucky’ doll in his backpack. 

“It was a good feeling, I enjoyed myself,” Wilcoxson said. “They showed me they wanted me back and stuff, wanting me to see how they coached.”

Many prospects tend to rule out programs after de-committing, but that’s not the case when it comes to Wilcoxson. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder out of Decatur, Georgia, said an early connection to the program will continue to keep the Gators in the mix.

“It’s really just the tradition. I grew up liking them, so it’s like they’ll always stand out to me,” he said. “They’re telling me they need me in The Swamp, they like the way I play. Telling me they want to play with somebody like me.”

That’s a message Keyvone Lee has heard consistently since backing off his pledge to the Gators on Feb. 22. Ranked the No. 8 running back in the 2020 class by 247Sports, Lee was back on campus Friday to take in the sights and sounds. 

“They keep asking me when I’m committing, when I’m coming back,” Lee laughed. “It’s still the same. I like Florida, it’s cool.”

Although the Gators will have to beat out former UF coach Ja’Juan Seider, now the running backs coach at Penn State, if Florida hopes to get Lee back in the fold. 

“He wants me bad,” Lee said of Seider. “I posted my location here and he commented ‘Nah, that’s not the place.”

For now, Lee isn’t sure where he plans on playing collegiately. But events such as Friday Night Lights will keep the Gators in the mix.

“Just stay consistent, stay loyal, and keep talking to me,” Lee said. “I’m definitely going to keep coming back up here.”


  1. I like that Mullen recruits a mix of dual threat and pocket passers. You just never know how the dual threat guys are going to improve with passing. I don’t want to end up with a bunch of Treon Harris’.

    • @dallasgator
      Excuse you, but Treon Harris got us to a place that Will Muschamp couldn’t do once in all his 4 years he was here. Thats get to Atlanta to play vs Alabama in the SEC Championship. It wasn’t Treon Harris fault that Will Grier took dope. It wasn’t Treon Harris fault that half the team was suspended for credit card fraud or injuries.
      So tired of these “so called gator fans” still bi*th*ing about Treon Harris even though he won the majority of his games and carried the team even with his short height and incomplete teammates. These same fans probably defending Brantley or Driskel…

  2. Sounds like a great event and a chance for a lot of great players to see wat UF is all about. Welcome to glory Carlos Del Rio. Sounds like an elite athlete with a rocket arm and great accuracy. Mullen has a great track record developing QBs and why not join the greatness?!

    • Forget all that nonsense about Treon Harris. Just look at this kid Del Rio! Sometimes you can look at a guy and he has it written all over him. If Dan Mullen wants him then by God I want him too.

    • The most important asset, ACCURACY. He can be taught all else but when you have a guy who just isnt too accurate it takes several years to get him there if at all. It is the largest failing point I see each year in college QB’s! We won a few games last year aided by the opposing QB’s lack of it!

  3. Gator-6, that’s the most insightful comment in this thread. If Mullen likes him, I like him too.

    Looking at the huge leap in Feleipe’s play over last season, you have to wonder how Jeff Driskel would have developed under Dan Mullen.

    • It would have been a different story, even a different history. You know, reading your comment below reminds me of how badly I wanted CDM to come back after Urban left. I just “felt” he would continue right where we left off and more NCs would have been right around the corner.

  4. You know, something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Kirby Smart is a great salesman but the record suggests he isn’t necessarily the greatest coach.

    While Dan Mullen may not be the world’s greatest salesman, he’s certainly good enough. And he is clearly a great coach with a great coaching staff. I would not trade our coaching staff for Georgia’s… or any other staff in the SEC (Saint Nick has a ton of coaching turnover every year, and Father Time is going to catch up with him sooner than later).

    • I remember Daz Wazzel saying the other day that he believes Mullen is one of the few great coaches in college football. I pretty much endorse that sentiment, I just hope we can keep him and I really hope we don’t run him off when he faces a temporary reversal now and then. I wouldn’t trade for Kirby Smart either, and/or any of his coaches. As far as Alabama’s… way, mainly because you need a program just to keep up with who’s coaching there from week to week!