It hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Florida football. Sitting at 5-6, the squad hasn’t taken the full-fledged leap forward like some would have hoped for.
Despite the team’s struggles, there has been a collection of players who have been vital contributors, and things would be far worse without their play on the field this season.
With the holidays in mind, here are seven members of Florida football that we have been thankful for in 2023.
Florida Football Players On Offense We Are Thankful For
When Billy Napier plucked Mertz out of the transfer portal, we were not the most enthused about the move. His play at Wisconsin wasn’t the greatest, and considering some of the other big names in the portal, it felt like a major letdown to settle on Mertz.
While the offensive line played a big part in it, those fears only heightened after a disastrous Spring Game that left little faith in the Gators’ offense coming into 2023.
But Mertz came in, and from game one, he was the quarterback Florida needed him to be to give themselves a chance. He didn’t go downfield as often as we would have liked, but his accuracy enabled Florida always to have a positive play.
His season ended trying to run through a brick wall, a sign that Mertz has been all in this season, and we hope he opts to come back for 2024.
Oftentimes, we hype players up for the sake of hope. And while he didn’t play in the Spring Game, Florida fans were high on the prospect of what Wilson could do once he arrived on campus.
His offseason workout videos only added to the hype, but we tried not to get too excited because he was still a true freshman at the end of the day.
Wilson has seen his role get bigger and bigger as the season has rolled on, and while it has been frustrating to see Napier go through stretches where he seems to forget that Wilson is still on the team, this offense would be anemic if not for Wilson’s playmaking ability.
He’s not the most physically imposing and he won’t burn you over the top with blinding speed, but Pearsall has fought tooth and nail to help drag the Gator offense to relevance this season.
Entering Saturday’s game against FSU, Pearsall just needs 52 yards to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the season. Nobody has done that in a Florida uniform since Taylor Jacobs did it 20 years ago.
His catch against South Carolina to win the game is one of the saving graces of the season and his Superman catch against UNC Charlotte will forever be etched in Gator lore.
Like Wilson, we would love to see Etienne get the ball more. While he and Montrell Johnson enter Saturday with the same amount of rushing yards on the season, it is Etienne who continues to be far more electric.
He is a home run threat on every play and has the potential to be one of the most exciting running backs in the SEC.
If Johnson departs for the NFL after this season, the Gators are still in good hands with at least one more season of Etienne in the backfield.