In preparation for their upcoming trip to Utah, the Florida Gators have recently released their depth chart. As expected, fans and analysts alike have been closely examining the roster, and there were a few surprises in the initial release. It’s always interesting to see which players have earned starting positions on and which ones may have to work a little harder to get there.
Here’s what head coach Billy Napier said on the depth chart surprises.
True freshman Jordan Castell starting at safety
“He’s earned it. I think he showed up in January and he’s made the most of each opportunity. We reward what we see. There’s a certain level of integrity relative to who plays. I think you got to call it exactly as you see it, not only in respect to the staff but the players as well.” -Billy Napier
Jordan Castell was rated as a consensus four-star recruit by 247Sports, ESPN, On3, and Rivals. He was ranked as the No. 10 safety and No. 139 player overall in the Class of 2023 by ESPN. Castell was also invited to play in the 2023 Under Armour All-American game and listed in the ESPN Top-300. Throughout his high school career, he recorded 121 tackles (87 solo), averaging 3.5 per game, with 2.0 sacks and eight interceptions.
Former walk-on Kahleil Jackson starting at wide receiver
“I can still remember the first practice we had when we got here and I was asking about Kahleil, who’s that guy. He’s not on scholarship and he looked as good or better as some of our guys. And then I would tell you this, I think Kahleil’s role obviously what he wanted to be last year. But he took all the feedback relative to what he needed to do to get better, to be a better football player, a better teammate and really has grown as a human being. I think he would tell you that. So a good example of a guy who works extremely hard, is really opened up relative to communicating, being vocal, having good presence. Bottom line, the guy has been a very productive player. He’s got traits. This guy is big. He’s long, he’s very skilled, he can get open and makes plays on the ball.” -Billy Napier
As a third-generation Gator football player, Kahleil comes from a family with a strong history at UF. His grandfather, Willie Jackson Sr., was one of the first African-American scholarship football players at UF, while his father, Will Jackson Jr., and uncle, Terry Jackson, both played under Steve Spurrier.
Last season, he played in six games and caught one pass for a season and career-long of 23 yards against South Carolina on November 12th. He also recorded his first career catch for 20 yards against Eastern Washington on October 2nd.
Freshman Tony Livingston starting at tight end
“Tony’s got a motor, he practices hard, he’s tough, he’s not scared, he’s durable and he’s got some physicality. He will put his face in there and he’s got some athleticism that makes him effective in the passing game. He’s hard to tackle and I think he’s still growing as a player relative to knowledge of the system and football IQ, details and fundamentals but I think Tony’s got a bright future. You think about this guy, this guy did not play football for two seasons, right. You talk about writing a story about overcoming something to be here, this is one of the guys. It’s very impressive what he’s overcome. Tony is not a finished product. He has lots of work to do but there’s potential there and I’m very pleased with the growth we’ve seen there.” -Billy Napier
Ranked as a four-star recruit by 247Sports Composite Rankings, Livingston was the No. 27 offensive tackle and No. 39 player in Florida in the Class of 2023 according to 247Sports Composite. He was also a First-Team All-State TE selection in 2019.
Redshirt sophomore Scooby Williams starting at linebacker
“Scooby’s another guy much like Kahleil who maybe did not the role, got some playing time last year but it was the first playing time of his career and now has had an entire offseason to put in the time and effort and energy and knows what it looks like to go out there and play. I think in particular he had a really good spring and he started strong in training camp. He got banged up a little bit, but he’s back in a good place and there’s a role for him on our team. That’s a very competitive room, our linebacker room.” -Billy Napier
Scooby Williams played in eight games last season. He had a solo tackle at Florida State on November 25th and combined for three tackles against No. 1 Georgia on October 29th. Additionally, he totaled three tackles during the Eastern Washington game on October 2nd. He posted a solo tackle at No. 11 Tennessee on September 24th and had a career-high four tackles against USF on September 17th. Williams assisted on a tackle against No. 20 Kentucky on September 10th and appeared in the home opener against No. 7 Utah on September 3rd.
Photo credit: UAA Communications