Florida Gators football: Princely Umanmielen, Chris McClellan lead 11 notable transfer portal entrants

By OnlyGators.com Staff
December 6, 2023
Florida Gators football: Princely Umanmielen, Chris McClellan lead 11 notable transfer portal entrants

Image Credit: @GatorsFB / Twitter

Attrition has an entirely different meaning in college football this days. The advent of the transfer portal, the one-time transfer exemption for underclassmen and seemingly unregulated NIL payments has created an annual free agency in the sport that is hardly without restriction.

As head coach Billy Napier continues to build his first complete roster with the Florida Gators, he has been met by these fresh competing factors while simultaneously struggling on the field. Some of that has been his own doing with Florida not attacking the transfer portal with the ferocity needed to achieve immediate success, like some of the Gators’ peers have accomplished over the last two seasons.

Still, with a large recruiting class entering and plenty of players seeking new opportunities, mass attrition is simply part of the process these days. The key for Napier is to keep as many top-tier players at Florida as possible, whether that’s through discussing 2024 plans, renegotiating NIL or a combination of both.

Whether he will succeed in that goal this cycle remains to be seen. For now, let’s take a look at the first 10 former Gators who have entered the transfer portal seeking new homes next season.

DL/LB Princely Umanmielen, junior: A true surprise from Umanmielen, who many thought would declare for the 2024 NFL Draft as a projected Day 2 pick after starting all 12 games in 2023 and 11 of 13 in 2022. Umanmielen led Florida with 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries while grabbing 39 total tackles. The Gators did not expect to have him next season either way, but with Umanmielen choosing to remain in college, it is a blow that Florida was not able to retain his All-SEC second team talent as he was the team’s lone effective pass rusher.

There have been some question effort and production, particularly against the run, so perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs. The expectation will be that Umanmielen follows fired defensive line coach Sean Spencer to Texas A&M as the former four-star prospect (No. 243) is a native of Manor, Texas, which is about 90 minutes away. Another option will be to join his brother at Nebraska.

DL Chris McClellan, sophomore: Previously the most surprising entrant (at least thus far), McClellan did not start for the Gators but was expected to have that opportunity in 2024. He did not progress as well from Year 1 to Year 2 as originally expected, but he did record 46 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery in 25 games. The former four-star prospect (No. 113) was one of the top signees in Napier’s transition class.

S Kamari Wilson, sophomore: Speaking of that 2022 bump class, Wilson was a four-star prospect (No. 44) and the prized signee for Napier, who won a direct recruiting battle over Georgia on National Signing Day. After playing all 13 games his freshman season where he was largely praised for his talent, he was left off the depth chart in Week 3 and never returned despite trying to join UF on the sideline for that game against Charlotte. It’s unknown what exactly happened with Wilson, but there was talk in the offseason that a move to linebacker was preferred by the coaching staff due to his size. Clearly there was some level of disconnect that was unable to be rectified.

WR Caleb Douglas, sophomore: Douglas was an unheralded signee for the Gators who came on late as a freshman and impressed early his sophomore season. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle against Kentucky and never returned to the field. Florida certainly could have used his play making ability as the offense improved later in the season, and he likely would have been quite productive.

QB Max Brown, redshirt freshman: Elevated to second string behind redshirt junior Graham Mertz early in 2023, Brown eventually saw significant time once Mertz injured his collarbone. Against Missouri and Florida State, he flashed long-term starter ability … just not at UF as Mertz is returning in 2024 and five-star prospect DJ Lagway (Willis, TX) is set to make noise as a true freshman next season. This was a no-brainer decision for Brown, a three-star prospect who should be able to land a starting job — or a role with a path to a starting job — this offseason.

TE Jonathan Odom, junior: An occasional producer who dealt with injuries across the last two seasons, Odom never became a consistent contributor for the Gators. He was a three-star prospect from the Class of 2020.

OL Jalen Farmer, redshirt freshman: The former three-star prospect appeared in four games over two seasons.

DB Jadarrius Perkins, junior: A three-star JUCO transfer ranked No. 5 nationally when he signed with Florida, Perkins decided he was leaving the program after the Utah game. This after playing in 22 games over his first two seasons.

WR Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman, sophomore: A JUCO transfer, Chiaokhiao-Bowman was mostly a special teams performer who saw snaps in 14 total games and was sidelined for nearly all of 2023 with injuries.

OL Jordan Herman, redshirt sophomore: A JUCO transfer, Herman played in three games and was expected to be buried on the depth chart in 2024.

DL/TE Andrew Savaiinaea, redshirt freshman: The former three-star prospect did not play in 2023 after moving between the defensive line and offensive line during his freshman season. He was a questionable take initially for Florida and simply could not find a spot with the program.

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