Cotton Bowl: Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners both without starters

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun

Florida coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday his team would have approximately 60 scholarship players available for the 85th Cotton Bowl Classic, and the absences announced just prior to kickoff included multiple notable Gators.

UF announced it was without 17 players, including eight starters, for the trip, including the unexpected addition of starting linebacker Ventrell Miller.

Prior to departing for Dallas, the Gators saw tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney announce they’d be foregoing the New Year’s Six Bowl in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Furthermore, Florida junior wide receiver Jacob Copeland announced he’d be missing the trip due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests. Multiple reports prior to the game indicated Marco Wilso would opt out as well. 

Starting safety Shawn Davis and reserve outside linebacker Jeremiah Moon were unavailable as well, along with David Reese, Kahleil Jackson, Ethan Pouncey, Rashad Torrence II, Lamar Goods, Hayden Knighton, Jaelin Humphries, Marlon Dunlap and Lucas Alonso. 

Oklahoma senior cornerback Tre Brown, who had the game-clinching interception in the 27-21 win over No. 12 Iowa State in the Big 12 title game Dec. 19, opted out to focus on the NFL draft. Backup quarterback Tanner Mordecai and running back T.J. Pledger announced they are transferring.

“There’s a big percentage of both of our football teams that are going to be pretty excited to play this football game,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “So I tend to go with the majority, and think these (bowl) games are still pretty darned important.”

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