When Billy Napier took over Florida football in November of 2021, he had to quickly piece together a recruiting class that Dan Mullen had neglected. Within two weeks of taking the job, Napier landed his headliner for the class of 2022 when four-star safety Kamari Wilson, out of IMG, committed to the Gators.
After being the perceived heir to the throne in 2023, Wilson has been relegated to the sideline for much of the 2023 season.
Why he is there is still a bit of a mystery.
Florida Football: This town isn’t big enough for the both of us
Coming into the 2023 season, Florida had to replace both of its starting safeties after Trey Dean and Rashad Torrence departed to try their hand at the NFL.
Wilson played some in 2022, showing competency while there were still areas he could improve upon. Miguel Mitchell was the only other returning safety for Florida. R.J. Motten transferred in from Michigan, and Jordan Castell and Bryce Thornton arrived as true freshmen.
And that was it for Florida’s 2023 safeties.
So it was safe to assume that Wilson and Motten were going to be the starters, with Mitchell and Castell rotating in.
Turns out Billy Napier had other ideas.
Perhaps the first sign that something was amiss was when Florida released its initial weights for the 2023 season. While Desmond Watson was the headliner and drew the most attention, people noted the weight gain for Wilson as well.
Wilson was listed at 220 pounds, up from the 209 pounds he was listed at in 2022. As we noted at the time, 220 pounds would be the biggest defensive back Florida had since 2018. His weight has since been lowered and is now listed at a more realistic 205 pounds.
From there, light rumblings began to emerge that Wilson was getting beat out in camp for the starting spot as Castell started turning heads, and Mitchell was making a leap, too.
Those rumblings became reality as Wilson got seven snaps against Utah, 13 against McNeese State, and none against Tennessee.
Without knowing what is going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to argue against what Austin Armstrong has opted to employ. Castell has been a freshman stud, and while Mitchell has drawn a bit of heat for a couple of big plays, particularly during the first drive against Tennessee, his overall play has been decent.
Wilson was dressed for Tennessee and was not listed on the injury report heading into the game. In theory, we will see Wilson against UNC Charlotte for 10-15 snaps, but beyond that, it seems clear who Florida wants as their starting safeties for 2023.
Barring injury or a drastic downturn in play from Mitchell or Castell, we probably won’t see much of Wilson in 2023.
And beyond 2023, well… we know how this story normally ends in modern-day college football.
We hope Wilson sticks around because even if he isn’t a starter, he is a solid depth piece to have. But the fact that Napier is willing to play Mitchell and Castell and not just play people because they are the next man in line showcases that, unlike the previous Florida football coaching staff, playing time is earned and not given on the 2023 Florida Gators.
Since we first published this on Wednesday morning, Florida put out its depth chart against UNC Charlotte, and Wilson is nowhere to be found on the depth chart. He’s not listed on the injured list, but he also isn’t listed among the available safeties for the game.
So, as of now, it looks like Wilson will be getting zero snaps against the 49ers.