Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has opted to forgo his remaining years of eligibility and declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. Richardson will not play in the 2022 Las Vegas Bowl against No. 14 Oregon State in order to keep himself healthy and begin training for the draft.
"After much prayer, consideration and speaking with my family, I have decided to forgo the upcoming bowl game and my remaining years of college eligibility to enter the 2023 NFL Draft," Richardson wrote in a statement. "As I take my next step in this journey, I will always be a Gator and strive to make Gator Nation proud."
Richardson became a fan favorite in his hometown of Gainesville, Florida, over the past two seasons, starting 13 games and appearing 20 times for the Gators. He flashed major potential as a reserve and spot starter last season and seemed prepared to cash in during Florida's Week 1 game when he posted 274 total yards and three touchdowns to lead an upset of No. 8 Utah in The Swamp.
However, Richardson was notably inconsistent in his first full season as a starter, completing 53.8% of his passes for 2,549 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 654 yards and nine touchdowns with his legs as one of the best runners in college football, though he frequently chose not to run the ball in key moments.
The Gators went 6-6 during Richardson's lone season as a starter, the first under coach Billy Napier.
Richardson is a somewhat controversial NFL Draft prospect as such an inexperienced and inconsistent college quarterback. Ultimately, his physical gifts jump off the page to make him a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. CBS Sports NFL Draft analystas high as No. 16 in his mock draft. Others have him outside of the first round.
"[Richardson]'s one of the most exciting prospects in this class," CBS Sports draft analyst Ryan Wilson wrote. "Yes, he's short on experience, but his physical tools are rare."
Richardson has thrown 393 passes at the collegiate level, but his legs give him a high floor in the NFL. AR rushed for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He is a project, but a toolsy high-upside choice.
Where Florida goes next
The Gators knew Richardson leaving was a possibility, but it leaves the quarterback room as a major question mark heading into 2023. The only other quarterback to throw a pass in 2022 was Jalen Kitna, who emerged as the backup when Ohio State transfer Jack Miller injured his thumb before the season and was unable to crack the second spot on the depth chart. However, Kitna wasafter he was arrested on child pornography charges.
With the top two quarterbacks gone, Miller or walk-on Kyle Engel is in line to start the bowl game. Miller, a former blue-chip recruit, has not thrown a pass for the Gators. Florida also has a commitment from elite four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada, ranked the No. 17 overall player by 247Sports in its Class of 2023 rankings. Florida could also be active in the transfer portal to try and add some quarterback depth in 2023, even if Rashada or Miller ultimately wins the job.