Top players in the transfer portal keeping looking elsewhere besides Florida football

Oct 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies safety Mishael Powell (3) celebrates with
Oct 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies safety Mishael Powell (3) celebrates with / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When the transfer portal opened for business back in December, Billy Napier took a slow and steady approach for Florida football. For a while things were quiet around Gainesville, then a pack of transfer committed, then they were quiet, then another pack committed.

But things are once again quiet around Gainesville during a time when business is still booming in the transfer portal and it's not a great look for the Gators.

Florida Football: Stuck In Neutral

Florida has signed nine players out of the transfer portal for the 2024 season. There are some nice players that fill needs in this group, such as Pup Howard, Joey Slackman, and Devon Manuel, but for a team that has back to back seasons of 6-7 and 5-7, sitting in 11th in the SEC in total transfer portal commits isn't exactly a banner to instill confidence for 2024.

As Florida took it's time throughout December and into January, one common retort was that Napier was waiting for some top talent to hop into the portal late and the Gators would shoot their shot then.

Part one of that narrative has come true, the problem is that while the Gators are shooting their shot, they keep coming up with air balls.

Mishael Powell is the latest in a quickly growing line of players the Gators tried to target and struck out on. The defensive back out of Washington hit the portal last week, took a visit to Florida, and announced yesterday he would instead be going to Miami.

Jerrin Thompson was also on the radar for Florida after he entered the portal from Texas. The safety is instead off to Auburn.

How about Yam Banks, a safety from South Alabama? Nope, off to Ole Miss.

Liberty wide receiver CJ Daniels? Try again, the wide receiver is heading to LSU.

This doesn't even count the slew of Alabama players like Dezz Ricks, Caleb Downs, and Isaiah Bond who Florida weren't even given a hint of momentum with.

Throw in guys from early in the portal cycle like Evan Stewart, London Humphreys, and Trey Moore that all would have been great players for Florida to add but all went elsewhere, and questions have to be asked if it is a Napier issue or an NIL issue?

The narrative leaking out is that a handful of these players were offered more money than Florida was willing to play ball with. Whether or not that is true the reality is that Florida AD Scott Stricklin hasn't exactly done a ton to rile up fan support towards Florida Victorious, the current NIL collective for the Gators.

It is true that schools are mostly at the mercy of a handful of big money boosters, but if the belief is that Florida could surpass a number of these schools with more small donations from all of Gator Nation, where is Stricklin to sell that dream?

Because if Napier is the guy and players would come here if Florida had the money, then Stricklin and friends have questions to answer as to why they have been so laissez faire with their NIL marketing.

But if it's not an NIL issue, and players are just outright telling Napier no, that is as deep of a problem within itself.