Florida football: 5 players to watch for Gators vs. Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

Five players to watch when the Florida Gators face the No. 16 Oregon State Beavers on Saturday at Allegiant Stadium in the Las Vegas Bowl (2:30 p.m., ESPN)

QB Jack Miller

Miller is in line to make his first collegiate start on Saturday, elevated from third to the top of the depth chart after Anthony Richardson declared for the NFL Draft and backup Jalen Kitna was kicked off the team following his arrest on possession and distribution of child pornography. A transfer from Ohio State, Miller sat out the first half of the season with a broken thumb he suffered in fall camp in August. His last action in a Gator uniform came in Florida's spring game, when he completed 13 of 23 passes for 121 yards and 1 interception.

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WR Ricky Pearsall

Pearsall is coming off his best game as Gator with 5 catches for 148 yards and 2 TDs against Florida State. For the season, Pearsall has posted 29 catches for a team-high 596 yards and 5 TDs. A Chandler, Ariz., native, Pearsall played in the Las Vegas Bowl last season for Arizona State when the Sun Devils lost 20-13 to Wisconsin. He's passed down his knowledge of playing at Allegiant Stadium to his Gator teammates. "It's a beautiful field," Pearsall said. "They've got the turf field. It's real nice and when the lights come on, that's when we are going to have to come out and play." Pearsall said he's expecting several family members and friends in the stands to watch him play.

OL Richard Gouraige

With All-American starting right guard O'Cyrus Torrence opting out of the game after declaring for the NFL Draft, the Gators will be counting on leadership from the 6-foot-5, 308-pound Gouraige, who has started all 12 games at left tackle this season. Like Torrence, Gouraige could have opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft but chose to play instead. "I started this journey; since my freshman year I always told myself I wanted to finish this season," Gouraige said. "Depending on how the seasons go, I just always wanted to finish out with my brothers. I know deep down I would feel bad for myself sitting at home or wherever I’m training at knowing I’m not in the game helping my brothers the best game I can or pouring into the younger guys and helping the best way I can."

DT Gervon Dexter Sr.

Dexter declared for the NFL Draft earlier but decided to play in the Las Vegas Bowl despite receiving a second-round grade in the draft. He's posted two sacks and four tackles for a loss on the season. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Dexter is eager to take on a leadership role on the defense in his final game as a Gator with linebacker Ventrell Miller sitting out to prepare for the NFL Draft. "I’m enjoying being a leader," Dexter said. "All season, coach (Billy) Napier came in and kind of told me that I have all the attributes to be a natural leader, and I’m just trying to get better at that, honestly.”

LB Derek Wingo

Florida Gators linebacker Khris Bogle (8) and Florida Gators linebacker Derek Wingo (15) celebrate a fumble recovery in the second half. The Florida Gators lost to the Georgia Bulldogs 34-7, Saturday afternoon, October 30, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]2021

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Miller's decision to sit out opens up an opportunity for Wingo, who is in line to make his second career start on Saturday against the Beavers. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Wingo, a former 2019 Gatorade Florida Player of the Year at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale had two tackles and a quarterback hurry in his first career start against Florida State. Wingo started the game due to Miller sitting out the first half on a targeting suspension. He's in line to be on the field for even more snaps on Saturday. Wingo has posted 16 tackles on the season with 1 sack and 2 quarterback hurries and will look to try to fill Miller's role as a communicator and leader. "Wingo has become a little bit more vocal with Ventrell leaving, so that’s pretty good for him," Florida cornerback Jaydon Hill said.