A long, long time — okay, two months — ago, 2020 quarterback Anthony Richardson decommitted from Florida at a moment when it seemed that the Gators were about to pounce on recent Alabama decommit Carson Beck.
Now, on this particular Saturday, Beck is a Georgia commit who has spoken openly about leveraging Florida’s interest into an offer from the Bulldogs — and Richardson is, once again, a Florida commit, having made the announcement on Twitter at noon.
Alas, Richardson’s tweet from last July, when he first committed to the Gators after their Friday Night Lights recruiting event, is no longer live. But this message, citing education and “what’s projected in my future,” seems like a mature teenager’s thoughts on the recruiting process, perhaps mirroring the physical maturation of the 6’4”, 200-pound QB that became a Twitter meme last fall.
As for Richardson the player, though, there’s not a lot new to say. Here’s what I wrote last July, based on highlights through his sophomore season at Gainesville’s Eastside High:
Richardson displays a very easy arm motion on video, one that could well be refined to get more gas on his fastball — which seems to have only average zip at the moment — and appears to throw with touch to various levels. He’s also got excellent wheels for a quarterback, and makes plays in the highlights as passer, runner, and receiver.
Also, and obviously, Richardson fits into a mold that Mullen has hewed to when it comes to the prospects he’s recruited at quarterback. Like freshman Emory Jones and 2019 commit Jalon Jones, Richardson has many of the physical tools that one might grant to an ideal athlete for the position in Mullen’s spread offense with significant QB-run concepts, and it is no stretch to envision him thriving as a fit in that scheme.
Look at Richardson’s junior-year highlights, and you’ll see a similar player.
Richardson’s a fantastic athlete, without a doubt, but he is — and was — a projectable athlete who could use coaching like that which Dan Mullen provides to maximize his talents, rather than a polished quarterback. That rawness is why he’s only a three-star prospect per the 247Sports Composite, and something that distinguishes him from a more advanced but less athletic prospect like Beck, a four-star, top-100 recruit. Beck might play earlier at Georgia than Richardson does at Florida — though the example of Justin Fields means that might deserves emphasis there — and might have a faster track to being a starter-quality quarterback. But Richardson may have a higher ceiling.
And Florida can afford to be — and might be better off — stacking quarterbacks who come in as raw talents with high ceilings at the moment, because it would seem to have a coach who excels with them. That description fits Feleipe Franks, who appeared to be rounding into form in Mullen’s offense as the 2018 season concluded, but also fits redshirt freshman-to-be Emory Jones, early-enrolled freshman Jalon Jones, and now Richardson. Arguably, Franks has already worked out under Mullen; for Florida to have success after Franks departs Gainesville, it only needs one of the two Joneses or Richardson to work out similarly.
And having a sheaf of lottery tickets is better than clutching just one or two.
With Richardson now seemingly settled back in with Florida, Beck committed to Georgia, and fellow Jacksonville passer Jeff Sims locked to Florida State, it would seem likely that the state of quarterback recruiting in the Sunshine State for the 2020 cycle is set. All five Florida QBs among the nation’s top 50 per 247Sports are now committed, and so Florida, Georgia, FSU and so forth are likely attached to their commits.
This allows Florida to move on from investing the bulk of its time and resources in Richardson and to building out its 2020 class, one that could well be one of the nation’s best. Richardson’s commitment pushed it to No. 5 nationally as of Saturday, and that standing could well improve if Florida hits on many of its top targets.