Notebook: Trio of Gators accept Senior Bowl invites; Jadarrius Perkins returns to Mizzou

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter will showcase his talents at the Senior Bowl, along with running back Dameon Pierce and Jeremiah Moon.

A trio of Gators are heading to the Reese’s Senior Bowl for the second consecutive year. 

Defensive end Zachary Carter, linebacker Jeremiah Moon and running back Dameon Pierce all accepted invites this week to the game, which takes place on Feb. 5, 2022 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

Pierce is averaging a career-high 6.6 yards per carry this season, rushing for 448 yards and 10 touchdowns, which ranks fourth in the SEC. He also has 18 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. 

Piece is the highest-graded running back in the country, according to Pro Football Focus. 

“Throughout his entire career he's been an extremely consistent performer for us,” UF coach Dan Mullen said of Pierce on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “Brings a lot of high energy every day to practice, performs on the field running the ball, performs catching the ball out of the backfield, a great blocker when we need to be a great blocker and he’s a really good special teams player. 

“So I just think it kind of teaches guys a professionalism of an approach that you can take of a guy that is all about the team, all about working hard and giving his best at everything that he does and not worry not worry about the silly things that people get caught up in that aren’t relevant on your improvement as a player and how you’re helping the team be successful.”

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Moon is third on the team with 49 tackles, 3.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks, while Carter’s 6.5 sacks ranks fourth in the SEC. He currently has 26.0 tackles and leads the Gators with 10.0 TFL. 

“I didn’t really realize it was my last SEC game. That’s crazy, but I’m taking it all in and making the most of these moments. I won’t forget them,” Carter said this week. “It’s been a great journey, especially since Coach Mullen got here. We’ve been to a New Year’s bowl every year, and that’s really what you want from a program. Obviously, there’s a little adversity this year. But I feel like that adversity, it’s only going to help guys grow, and it’ll be better for them next year, in the future.

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“As a team, we’re more worried about finishing this thing off the right way, especially me as a senior. I just at least want to send the program out with two wins to end the year and a bowl game win, hopefully.”

Moon was invited to last year’s Senior Bowl — along with former Gators Shawn Davis, Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney — but chose to return to school for a sixth year. Florida has had 106 participants in the game, which annually features the country's best senior collegiate players and top NFL prospects on teams representing the North and South that are coached by the entire coaching staffs of two NFL teams, since 1950, including five players in 2020. 

Florida cornerback Jadarrius Perkins can't wait to play at Missouri.

Jadarrius Perkins returning to Mizzou

Florida’s final SEC game Saturday at Missouri will be a homecoming of sorts for Gators defensive back Jadarrius Perkins. 

He signed with Tigers in the Class of 2021 as a top-five overall JUCO recruit. After spending the spring at Mizzou, however, Perkins entered the portal and transferred to UF this past summer. 

“Really it just wasn’t the right fit for me, I feel like. I wanted to be somewhere where I felt it could fit me, and Florida’s home,” Perkins said of his decision to switch schools. “My first day there, it started snowing. It wasn’t a good feeling. I’m from Mississippi; I’m not used to the snow. That was my first time ever seeing snow. That was overwhelming, for real.”

Perkins made his first career start for the Gators against Samford and has stepped up at the STAR position for Tre’Vez Johnson, who missed the past two games. Saturday’s matchup will be personal for Perkins. 

“I’ve been looking forward to going to Columbia for a long time,” he said. “Those guys back there, we’ve been talking since I arrived at Florida. … That’s going to be a fun trip. I mean, a lot of intensity. I know a lot of those guys personally, so we’re ready to play each other.”

Florida wide receiver Ja'Markis Weston (82) catches a pass for a touchdown during the first half Saturday against Samford at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Ja'Markis Weston catching on at WR

The first of Emory Jones’ six touchdown passes last Saturday was caught by Ja’Markis Weston. 

It was the first career score for the redshirt sophomore receiver from Clewiston. 

“The only thing I can do is thank God and be happy and celebrate it with my brothers,” Weston said of his 9-yard touchdown grab. “We all put in the work, we all get to celebrate as one, as a team.”

After just one reception last season in the Cotton Bowl, Weston has been more involved in the rotation this season. He made three receptions for 44 yards in the season opener and also snagged a 15-yard pass against Georgia. 

“Just studying the playbook more. That was the key, learning different formations, learning different positions,” Weston said of earning more playing time. “It’s been an amazing feeling to be involved, especially getting back with my teammates, being able to work and move forward from here on out."