The Florida Gators have done significant work when recruiting from transfer portal under Dan Mullen, and snagged another big name with a big frame from it on Saturday.
This one, graduate transfer Stewart Reese of Mississippi State, is the first coming to Gainesville as a veteran of Mullen’s previous stop.
Reese, the elder brother of Florida linebacker David Reese, came to Mississippi State in 2016 as a three-star prospect from Fort Pierce. He did not play as a true freshman, but started all 13 games at right tackle for the final Mullen team at Mississippi State in 2017 under offensive line coach John Hevesy, who now holds the same position at Florida.
Those deep connections to Mullen and Hevesy made Reese a subject of frequent transfer rumors for much of the spring, thanks partly to a 2019 season that saw him briefly slip out of the Bulldogs’ rotation on the offensive line. While Reese started 13 games again in 2018, he missed four games in 2019, split snaps between right guard — where he had trained at beginning with spring practice — and right tackle, and did not start in the 2019 Music City Bowl. While he did not enter the transfer portal until earlier this week, Reese had been regarded as a possible Florida pickup for months.
Reese still performed well as a redshirt junior — MSU’s Music City Bowl media guide claims Reese had not allowed a sack in the 2019 season prior to that game — and likely would have factored into Mike Leach’s offense in 2020. But in transferring to Florida, he is making the rare move that will minimize the number of different coaches he has played for in college, opting to finish a career under the head coach and offensive line coach that recruited him rather than add Leach and a third offensive line coach (Mason Miller) to a list of teachers that already included Joe Moorhead and his offensive line coach (Marcus Johnson).
And while it still remains unclear whether Florida — or any other college football team — will be playing this fall, Reese would immediately become a candidate to start at either guard spot for the Gators, and perhaps to serve as depth at right tackle.