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Gators announce players who’ll join coach Mullen at SEC Media Days

Florida Football Insiders

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

As the SEC media gets ready to descend on suburban Birmingham, Alabama, next week, the Florida Gators have announced which players will be joining coach Dan Mullen at this year’s festivities.

The Gators made it official through their website on Wednesday morning the quarterback Feleipe Franks running back Lamical Perine and defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga will be the players that will accompany the Gators second-year coach:

Most eyes and interest will be on Franks, the redshirt junior quarterback, who played progressively better as 2018 wore on. Franks finished with just under 2,500 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions, while he ran for another 350 yards with seven more touchdowns on the ground.

More importantly, he led Florida to key wins at the end of the year in comeback fashion over South Carolina, beating rival Florida State in Tallahassee and then, helping the Gators win their Peach Bowl matchup with the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines.

As for Perine, he is the leading returning rusher with 826 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago on the ground. The senior will be counted on to help balance the offense, as the best experienced back out of the backfield.

This is the first time in five years that the Gators are bringing a QB and/or a RB to the event. Mullen brought offensive lineman Martez Ivey and defenders, CeCe Jefferson and David Reese last year.

Finally, Zuniga will represent the Florida D, as he started all 13 games a year ago and was second with 11 tackles for loss plus 6.5 sacks. The red shirt senior is expected to help fill the shoes of Jachai Polite who entered the NFL draft after last season, as Florida’s best pass rushing weapon.

For the first time since the 2016 media days days, the Gators will be made available on the opening Monday of the four-day event joining LSU and Missouri on Day one.

ESPN and the SEC network will have extensive coverage of Mullen and the players press conferences and interviews

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Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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