Florida Football: The juxtaposition of Dameon Pierce and Trevor Etienne

Dameon Pirece and Trevor Etienne had different visions of what it meant to be a Florida Gator

Florida Gators running back Dameon Pierce (27) runs with the ball after getting this helmet knocked
Florida Gators running back Dameon Pierce (27) runs with the ball after getting this helmet knocked / Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun / USA
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Florida football fans will get to see running back Trevor Etienne in 2024. The only problem is that it will be in a Georgia Bulldog's uniform. Etienne finalized his plans on Christmas Eve and announced he would be moving to Athens for the 2024 season.

His move is emblematic of a new era in college football and has fans longing for a time not that long ago when players would never dream of transferring to a chief rival.

Florida Football: One Man Show

The reaction to Etienne donning the red and black was predictably visceral. We here at Hail Florida Hail posted a photo of Brandon Spike's iconic tackle on Knowshon Moreno. Other fan reaction was far more direct.

In a quickly deleted post on X, Etienne mused why Gator fans were upset.

"How you mad at me for doing better? #GoDawgs tho."

Trevor Etienne

Well, for starters, there have been 86 players to hit the transfer portal from Florida since the portal was first enacted in 2018. Outside of Gerald Mincey, who was a backup offensive lineman for Florida, Etienne is the first to transfer to either Georgia, FSU, or Tennessee. And when one considers that before the transfer portal, this move would have been blocked in a heartbeat by Billy Napier, this isn't some commonplace occurrence where fans are going to go, "Yeah, man, it's cool. We still love you."

As we chronicled when Etienne first hit the portal, his departure is a significant blow to the foundation Napier is trying to build. Etienne is right that players will always look for a chance to better themselves in this modern day of college football. And the fact that Florida isn't considered a destination to do that is as much a commentary on the current state of the Gators as it is on Etienne.

It also has fans longing for a not so long ago era when players were willing to stick it out even when things weren't perfect.

Like Etienne, Dameon Pierce was underutilized during his time as a Gator. He should have received the ball far more than he did and many point to it as one of the chief flaws Dan Mullen had as Florida's head coach.

But Pirece didn't seek a transfer even though the portal was open for business. He simply took the ball when it was his turn and made opposing defenders regret their choice to try and tackle him.

His most iconic moment came in 2021 against FSU. Despite Mullen being fired prior to the game, Pierce wasn't going to let anything stop him from beating FSU.

That win qualified Florida for a bowl game, a bowl game Pirece didn't need to play in. Probably 75% of players in Pirece's shoes wouldn't have suited up for the Gasparilla Bowl, but that wasn't Pirece's mindset.

When asked why he didn't opt out of the game, Pirece made it know he bled orange and blue.

"Why? Because I'm a Gator bro. When I signed here, I signed for four good years, get my education, and I'm going to rock out that way until I die, you know?"

Dameon Pirece

And it's that juxtaposition between Etienne and Pirece that highlights what Napier needs more of right now. Whether or not Napier's methodology is going to work, he needs a squad in 2024 that believes his methodology is going to work.

Pirece is a guy that would have bought in for 2024. Florida needs to find their Dameon Pirece for the 2024 season.