Corner Carter: Five newcomers who can make Gators fans smile

Irving, Texas – Once upon a time, I would walk here barefoot and up the many hills that crossed my path, to visit Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

My childhood heroes from Tennessee to Florida made Texas Stadium home: Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, “Tall” Ed Jones, Iverson Walls, Drew Pearson, Tony HaleDanny White, Robert Newhouse, etc. The only time I cried over a sporting event was when the Cowboys lost three consecutive NFC Championships in the early 1980s. Eagles in the eighties. 49ers in ’81. Redskins in ’82.

The boy remembers long after he becomes a man.


Texas Stadium (file photo, USA Today Sports)
Texas Stadium. (File photo/USA Today Sports)

And then, looking back at where the Gators spent Tuesday night—NFL fans of a certain age can still hear Brent Musburger opening with, “You’re looking straight at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas”—the Texas sun shines on those dusty memories. . Florida left Gainesville late Tuesday afternoon for its Thursday night game in Utah, escaping to beat Hurricane Adalia while the weather was fine.

The Gators landed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area early Tuesday night to spend the night. They’ll train Wednesday morning, then travel to Salt Lake City to get to Utah around the same time that was initially planned for Thursday night’s game. Their hotel is located on the road leading to the site of the famous Texas hole-in-the-roof stadium.

Much like the Gators on their way to Utah, this blog detour has a purpose. There are fans who ride high and low with the Gators as I once did with the Cowboys. They can’t wait until kickoff Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium to finally see they a team.

With that time fast approaching, it’s a good time to discuss five newcomers to watch in a team full of new players. If these players have great seasons, Gators fans should be smiling instead of crying.


Graham Mertz

The former Wisconsin player aims to restart his career and recharge the Gators. Mertz wouldn’t run 80 yards or throw the ball like it was fired from a cannon like Anthony RichardsonBut if he plays his game, the Gators could be better than last season. Mertz has thrown for over 5,000 yards in his collegiate career and would never be overwhelmed by anything he sees in his first round in the Southeastern Conference.

He considers his accuracy his strength. He completed 57.3 percent of his preseason passes (164-for-286) for 2,136 yards and 19 touchdowns. Mertz quickly established himself as a team leader once he arrived in January, and he’s eager to make his debut with the Gators.

“I love this game,” he said this week. “I love the vibes that go into it.” “I can’t say it doesn’t make you anxious. It’s more exciting to start the game. That’s what I had in mind just before the game.”


Jordan Castle

Castiel was a true freshman from West Orange High in Orlando who surprised some by getting the go-ahead at safety before the season opener. The move did not surprise those around the pre-season camp. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Castell has consistently performed well at center losing to starters Rashad Torrence II And Tri Dean III From last season.

Castell was a four-star recruit who served as an icon for the Gators as they attempted a return to national fame. Castell is home and turned down out-of-state offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Ohio State to play in-state. The more players that can land like Castle, the better for their future. Adds size and physicality to the back end of Florida’s rejuvenated defense under the direction of the first-year coordinator Austin Armstrong.


Jordan Castle
Jordan Castle

“He deserved it. I think he showed up in January, and he took every opportunity,” Gators coach. Billy Napier He said. “We reward what we see. There is a certain level of integrity to whoever plays. I think you have to call it exactly as you see it, not only in terms of the coaching staff but also the players.”


Tony Livingstone

Tony Livingstone
Tony Livingstone

If you love puzzles, Livingston is the player for you. He originally signed with the Gators on early signing day in December 2021, and is an offensive lineman turned tight end from King High in Tampa. However, Livingston did not attend UF and spent the last season playing football and basketball at Carrollwood Day School.

With his academics organized, Livingston joined the Gators in January and has steadily adapted to the program, highlighted by his place on the starting depth chart as the starting tight end with Dante Zanders. Livingston (6-4.75, 251) is athletic for his size, and with a background as an offensive lineman, he doesn’t shy away from physical exercise. It will be interesting to watch Livingston play after hearing about him for about two years.

“Tony has drive, he trains hard, he’s strong, he’s not afraid, he’s tough, he has some physicality,” Napier said this week. “He’ll put his face out there, and he’s got some athleticism that makes him effective in the passing game. He’s tough to deal with, and I think he’s still growing as a player, compared to his knowledge of the system and IQ of football, the detail and the fundamentals. But I think Tony has a bright future.


Eugene Wilson III

The fast slot receiver from Tampa’s Gaither High has been gaining more and more attention as preseason camp progresses. Wilson arrived at UF as a consensus four-star recruit after catching 40 passes for 764 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior prep.

Wilson is feline and immediately grabs your attention because of his athletic build. He looks quickly before moving his feet. The 5-10, 170-pound Wilson is another local player the Gators landed in Napier’s first full recruiting cycle, and if the preseason hype turns out to be justified, he should be a difference-maker for the Gators.

“We’ve been keeping this guy close to the vest for quite some time,” Mertz jokes. “He’s so talented, so talented. I mean, I’ve been in college for a few years. I’ve never seen any guy so quick, so disruptive, who retains information so quickly and knows how to be open. He’s so cunning, man.”


Cam Jackson

The Gators were desperate for help on defense and found some on transfer Cam Jackson, the 6-foot-6, 371-pound giant who played in Memphis last season. Jackson recorded 41 tackles and a 2.5 loss record in 13 starts last season. It adds bulk to Florida’s inside line, which has struggled to shut down opponents consistently as UF ranks 97th in total defense nationally.

She teamed up with 6-foot-5 and 439 lbs Desmond Watson On the inside, Jackson sees no reason why teams should have so much success coming their way.

Jackson said, “Des and I, we play a lot. You don’t run the ball in there. You can’t really be in the middle with me and Des in the game. I feel like we’re going to cause a lot of chaos this year.”

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