Quick takeaways from Florida football 11th spring practice with coach Billy Napier

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

Florida football’s 11th spring practice session was held Thursday at the program’s indoor practice facility, and media was once again permitted to witness a 15-minute portion of UF’s preparation. 

Per usual, the team split into position groups as the window commenced, choosing to throw on air rather than in a live setting. The quarterbacks were split into two groups, with Anthony Richardson and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson in one pairing and Jack Miller with Jalen Kitna in the other as the unit worked with both the wide receivers and the running backs.

Florida's wide receiver unit spent time catching passes along the sideline on an out route, in addition to a drill designed to put the team's quarterbacks through their progressions and hit a receiver on a slant.

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With the offense continuing to nail down its timing, there appeared to be noticeably fewer drops and misfires compared to Tuesday’s outdoor session. Thursday was the last open practice of the week. UF will have a closed scrimmage on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Here are takeaways from practice.

Linebacker Diwun Black seen in a cast

Florida senior linebacker Diwun Black has been turning heads in his first spring with the program. Black has been moved to inside linebacker from the Star position, and his length in passing lanes has caused problems for Florida’s offense throughout camp, leading both his teammates and coaches to praise his progression.

Once again, Black was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, but he was seen sporting a cast on his left arm as he went through drills with the unit and inside linebackers coach Jay Bateman. 

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Despite his newfound ailment, Black continued to draw praise, both for his ability and his effort under the new regime.

“I've seen him make a lot of plays, and it really comes back to our identity program in the offseason," UF tight ends coach William Peagler said of Black. "He was really doing a good job of finishing things. I thought he stood out there, and then he's made a lot of plays, you know, picked a few balls off and all that good stuff in practice.”

Jadarrius Perkins back at practice facility

Discussing the team’s injury issues a week prior, head coach Billy Napier pointed to the safety room as an aspect of the roster that is “thin” from a numbers standpoint. While UF is far from fully healthy at the position, players are beginning to return to the practice field, even if it’s only in a limited capacity.

Kamari Wilson, one of UF’s three early enrollee freshmen, was back at practice for the second consecutive session, and the five-star prospect in the class of 2022 was witnessed going through drills with co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Patrick Toney. He wasn’t the only returnee in the room either as Jadarrius Perkins stood on crutches nearby taking in Florida’s practice session. 

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Perkins was expected to step into a larger role in his first spring with the program after transferring from Missouri prior to last season, but an unknown injury has kept him away throughout the entirety of camp. Considering Perkins has typically been seen leaving practice early, Thursday was a promising sign, even if it doesn’t mean the senior from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is close to making his return to the field for the Gators. 

Basketball coach Todd Golden at UF spring camp

Florida Gators head coach Todd Golden stops by Gator football spring practice, Thursday, April 7, 2022 at James W. "Bill" Heavener Football Training Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Thursday was quite a busy day for another UF coach entering their inaugural season with the program. 

Todd Golden, who replaced Mike White as Florida men’s basketball head coach, was in attendance for UF’s 11th spring practice. Golden’s visit to the indoor practice facility came several hours after the men’s basketball program concluded another voluntary workout session with six scholarship players: CJ Felder, Jason Jitoboh, Myreon Jones, Elijah Kennedy, Niels Lane and Kowacie Reeves. 

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Golden departed the building not long after media arrived, though it was for good reason. As practice commenced, highly touted Belmont transfer Will Richard tweeted a red pushpin emoji, indicating Richard had arrived in Gainesville for his official visit with the program.

Tight end unit making improvements

As for the tight ends, Peagler is seeing progress. 

“I think we’ve really seen from day one until now the guys have really improved,” he said Thursday after practice. “The good news for us is even though we’ve had some injuries and things from that nature, we’ve been able to get some guys from the other side of the ball.

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“I think we are going to use the tight ends in a lot of different ways," he added. "I think the big thing with tight ends is the ability to play in big personnel groupings but also spread it out.”