Florida to be active in transfer portal at all positions; Gage Wilcox suffers potential ‘career-ending’ injury

By Adam Silverstein
March 31, 2022
Florida to be active in transfer portal at all positions; Gage Wilcox suffers potential ‘career-ending’ injury
Football

Image Credit: UAA / Chris Kim

Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier anticipates the program being extremely active in the transfer portal at the conclusion of spring practice. In a media availability held Thursday after the team’s first scrimmage, Napier said Florida is not only thin at tight end, where the program has lost three scholarship players to injury, it is struggling at multiple other positions across the roster.

“We’re just a couple players away here from not being able to practice the way we want to,” Napier said. “When a long snapper catches a pass, you’re being creative to get it done. … We don’t have a third group right now. We have a first and second group. Basically eliminated the third group.”

Redshirt freshman tight end Gage Wilcox will miss the 2022 college football season and may never play the sport again. Wilcox suffered an injury that may be “career-ending” during spring practice, Napier said.

While the coach did not provide additional details as to the nature of the injury or how it occurred, he initially said Wilcox’s injury was season-ending before amending his comments.

“Very unfortunate for Gage, but certainly, while he was here with us, he did a fantastic job. Certainly tough but part of the game,” Napier said.

Wilcox (6-foot-4, 241 pounds) saw limited action as a true freshman but was expected to compete for significant playing time at the position in his second season. A four-star prospect coming out of Jefferson High School, he was ranked as the No. 311 overall prospect in the Class of 2021.

With Wilcox sidelined indefinitely and perhaps permanently, the Gators have just three scholarship tight ends on the roster, only one of whom is healthy and competing in spring practice. Senior Keon Zipperer has 309 yards and three touchdowns across three seasons. He played in all 13 games across the 2021 campaign but was not a significant target on the offense.

Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Odom and redshirt freshman Nick Elksnis are both out of spring practice with reported injuries. Odom is healing a torn labrum, while Elksnis broke his scapula, according to 247Sports.

Redshirt senior defensive lineman Dante Zanders, who initially entered the transfer portal once Napier was hired, has been moved to tight end for depth purposes. Napier called the contributions of Zanders, who played tight end in high school and was initially recruited at that position, “a godsend” to the team. Other defensive front seven players are also taking snaps at tight end.

Napier was clearly frustrated when discussing how thin the Gators are at numerous positions. As such, he said Florida will be a significant player in the transfer portal once spring practice ends.

“Every position on our team, we need more players. We need more depth,” said Napier, who anticipates adding a handful of players. “… This is a very inexperienced team. … We have a lot of work to do to develop that second and third group.”

He continued: “We’re literally going to give five walk-ons scholarships this spring. So, we have spots available. The University of Florida, you can anticipate us being very active in the portal this spring. We need players. The approach is going to be: Acquire as many good players as we can at any position. We’re thin, and we need help in a lot of different spots.

“… We anticipate doing a lot of business, and we look forward to it. … We need to continue to acquire more talent. I think that’s the name of the game.”

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