Florida QB Richardson poised for better health, more heroism

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No more pre-match backflips. No more dancing in the hotel. No more useless shots.

Anthony Richardson is now Florida’s undisputed – and as yet unproven – starting quarterback, a budding star who has already become a popular name found near the top of several 2023 NFL mock drafts.

It’s big. It’s fast. He has a talent for arms. She is intelligent. It is shiny. He is a hometown hero who grew up in Gainesville and is eager to take on a coveted job in front of longtime friends and loved family members.

That’s all the rebuilding Gators need and all the opposing defenses fear. He just needs to stay healthy, something he failed to do as a reserve last season.

“It has always been a concern of mine,” Richardson said just days before Florida opened the season against Utah’s number 7. “It’s not a good feeling when you can’t contribute to the team, not be healthy, because I hate being hurt, everyone does.”

The 6-foot 4, 232-pound tall Richardson starred in a reserve role behind Emory Jones last season, rampaging against Florida Atlantic and South Florida before a hamstring injury set him aside for two. matches.

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It got its lonely start in late October against Georgia’s generational defense. But he shot the ball three times in a two-minute span at the end of the second quarter and then suffered a concussion after half-time.

He was due to return to South Carolina the following week, but the night before the game he retouched his right knee while dancing in the team’s hotel and was scratched. He returned to action three weeks later against the state of Florida and led the Gators to victory. But he was done for the season after arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks later.

His season can best be described as a promising career start that has never really found a rhythm due to repeated setbacks.

However, Richardson made comparisons with 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Richardson welcomes the flattery because Newton was his idol while growing up.

“Honestly, it’s great,” Richardson said. “He was my favorite from fifth to sixth grade. Just to be compared to him, it makes me feel good. He makes me feel like I’m doing something right. … They think I’ll be as good as he is, so I hope I can do it and show people what I can do.

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Richardson finished with just six touchdown passes and five interceptions last season. He also ran for three scores.

Florida first-year manager Billy Napier was quick to moderate rising expectations regarding the focus of his bout.

“I know we all want to put a crown on his head,” Napier said. “The boy has completed 33 steps in his career. The great quarterbacks of the University of Florida, compete 33 in one game, so I think we have work to do there. “

It starts with keeping Richardson healthy. He promised to forgo the pre-match flips that thrilled fans and teammates alike. He insisted that he won’t dance “like this” during the season. And he even learned to slide, which he rarely did in 2021.

The Gators need you to be smart and avoid shooting in the open. After all, backup quarterback and Ohio transfer Jack Miller was sidelined at least the first two games of the season following thumb surgery.

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Jones moved to Arizona State in the spring, paving the way for Richardson to take over after a year of Florida fans clamoring for him weekly. Now it’s Richardson’s show – he had to beg from teammates to get enough tickets for his he friends and family to witness his first swamp start – and it starts on a big stage against the reigning champions. of the Pac-12.

“I expected to see great things,” said tight end Dante Zanders, comparing Richardson to dynamic New York Giants receiver and 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney. “It’s Kadarius Toney in the quarterback position. He has an arm on him. He can do amazing back leg throws, run, anything.

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