Florida football: 5 things to know about incoming freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada
ORLANDO — Incoming Florida Gators freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada closed the chapter on his high school career on Tuesday at the Under Armour Next All-American game at Camping World Stadium.
Alternating series with Oklahoma quarterback signee Jackson Arnold, Rashada went 4 of 8 passing for 25 yards throwing mostly short and intermediate passes. He demonstrated good arm strength on a few out routes and, though sacked once, eluded pressure to dance out of the pocket and complete a few more throws.
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Rashada will enroll at Florida this semester and is excited about moving into his dorm in Gainesville this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to getting better, becoming a better version of myself, getting in shape, gaining my weight, just learning the playbook," Rashada said. "I’m just getting ready; I want to hurry up and move and adapt and get rolling.”
A four-star signee and top 60 national prospect from Pittsburg, Calif., Rashada will join a quarterback room that includes Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz, redshirt sophomore Jack Miller and sophomore Max Brown.
"My approach is (to) go in there and get better, learn from guys, the good and bad, just learn everything, pick up great habits, but really my mindset right now is learning," Rashada said. "I don’t care who is in the room right now, none of that. I’m ready to learn and get better.”
Here are five things to know about Rashada heading into the 2023 season:
Jaden Rashada wants to gain 25 pounds
At 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, Rashada has set a goal to gain 25 pounds this semester. He's looking forward to working with Florida's strength and conditioning staff.
"I’m going to be a whole different person in June than I am right now," Rashada said. "That’s one promise I will make. The proof will show and I can’t wait.”
Rashada said the added strength isn't just about taking hits in the SEC.
"I just want to add on my frame because I kind of throw with decent velocity with the weight I’m at right now," Rashada said. "You know the stronger I get like the better it will get as far as effortless and things like that. That’s why I can’t wait to gain weight, just become stronger."
Jaden Rashada flipped from Miami Hurricanes
Rashada had established a close relationship with Florida coach Billy Napier and his staff but initially committed to Miami last spring. That changed when Rashada took a visit to the Florida campus during the weekend of the South Carolina game last November, which the Gators dominated 38-6 at The Swamp.
He said his mother and his sister wanted him to keep his options open even after pledging to the Hurricanes.
"They worry about me as a person," Rashada said. "They kept being in my ear about that and it never really left so it’s really like, would you listen to your mom if she’s saying that.”
Rashada admitted it was tough telling Miami coaches about his change of heart, but he is glad the recruiting process is over so he can focus on football. He took some lumps on social media but understood.
“That’s anywhere on Twitter, you get hit with any fanbase, any negativity," Rashada said. "But you know, I wish them the best, I wish them nothing but the best because they welcomed me with open arms. But I’m a Gator.”
Jaden Rashada is a dual threat and would embrace read-option offense
Rashada passed for 2.585 yards and 32 TDs while rushing for 7 TDs in his senior year at Pittsburg High School. ESPN rated Rashada as the second-best dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2023.
At Pittsburg, Rashada said he didn't run much read option, an offense that Napier employed during his first year at Florida. That was to take advantage of the dual-threat skillset of former quarterback Anthony Richardson, who's leaving UF to enter the NFL Draft.
"I’m pretty athletic and that’s something I can adapt (to) and don’t mind doing." Rashada said.
Jaden Rashada is an SEC fan
Even though Rashada was raised in Pittsburg, a coastal San Francisco Bay Area suburb, he grew up watching SEC football. He'd even wake up at 9 a.m. to catch the noon SEC kickoffs.
“That was different, but the good thing was I used to stay in bed, turn it on," Rashada said. "I had YouTube TV too, so I’d be on the phone sometimes, watching the games.”
Rashada said he recently talked with Richardson about what it was like to be a quarterback at Florida. He's looking forward to playing in front of 90,000 fans at The Swamp in the nation's toughest college football conference.
“The challenge is just playing football, being you, not putting too much on yourself," Rashada said. "Just going out there, being yourself.”
Jaden Rashada is a dog lover
Rashada said the toughest part about traveling cross country to enroll at Florida is leaving behind his dog, Biggie.
"That’s my dude," Rashada said. "I got like a bulldog type, that’s my guy. He gets depressed when I’m not ... that’s my dog if you know what I mean.”
Rashada said he received the pup from a breeder as a birthday present two and a half years ago. He didn't rule out the possibility of bringing Biggie to join him in Gainesville eventually.
“I might get him down there with me after a year, maybe," Rashada said. "I’m going to let him redshirt first before he gets down there.”