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Chomping at Bits: Ventrell Miller reportedly out indefinitely, Anthony Richardson practicing

The Gators’ leading tackler in 2020 may have played his last collegiate snap of football.

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NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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Ventrell Miller reportedly out indefinitely after surgery: Miller left Florida’s game against USF early on, and may now have played his last game as a Gator. His likely absence for this Saturday’s meeting with Alabama was first mentioned publicly by Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports; the injury was first reported as a torn biceps tendon that has necessitated surgery by G. Allan Taylor of The Athletic. (But you know who kind of scooped everyone on this? Brandon Spikes, of all people.)

None of the reporting at present suggests that Miller is definitively out for the remainder of the 2021 season, but that’s likely: Recovery after bicep surgery can take months for even a mild injury, and Miller wouldn’t really have that much season left even if he were back in exactly 60 days from a surgery that took place on Monday or Tuesday.

Without Miller, Florida’s likely to turn first to Amari Burney and Mohamoud Diabate and then to a young contingent of backups — Ty’Ron Hopper first among them — to fill the hole left at inside linebacker. The Gators’ use of Jeremiah Moon inside this fall after years of playing him as a Buck linebacker and edge rusher will also help in replacing Miller, who led Florida in tackles in 2020 (by more than two per game) and had seven tackles against FAU.

But this injury has to be especially dispiriting for Miller, who opted to remain at Florida instead of entering a 2021 NFL Draft that probably would have seen him selected. He was expected to lead this team on and off the field — witness him above, at SEC Media Days, and consider that he was a captain for Florida’s visit to Tampa — and will now likely have to choose between entering the 2022 NFL Draft after a significant injury that will limit his ability to train and trying to obtain another year of eligibility to play yet another season at Florida.

Given that he’ll be 23 by the time of the 2022 draft, it would behoove him to head to the pros if he wants his best shot at a pro career — the draft prospects of a 23-year-old linebacker without prototypical size and strength are not great, but those of a 24-year-old with the same tools are even worse — but it would also feel as though he were leaving Florida without a signature performance or a fully satisfying season, with that 2021 campaign coming as he led a much-maligned defense.

In any case, I wish Miller the absolute best. Since being suspended in 2017 for his role in Florida’s infamous credit card fraud ring, Miller’s been close to a model college football player, and while no player deserves to miss a final season due to injury, Miller certainly earned a better fate for the end of his college career than the one life has dealt him.

Anthony Richardson practicing after hamstring tightness: Dan Mullen confirmed Wednesday on the weekly SEC coaches’ teleconference that Richardson’s been practicing all week after feeling hamstring tightness on his long touchdown run. Whether that means he’ll be totally healthy for Saturday’s game is debatable, but it’s clear that Richardson’s going to play in some capacity unless he reaggravates this injury or sustains another; the more relevant question is what limitations he’ll have as a result of injury, and that’s something we’re unlikely to know for certain until Saturday, though Richardson’s own jocularity about the injury seems promising.

Richardson gives back to high school program: Via a grant program sponsored by the College Football Playoff, Richardson was able to present a gift certificate worth $1,000 to former Gainesville Fire Marshal Mark Smith, who heads up the Academy of Fire and EMS at Gainesville’s Loften High School, a vocational training program that Richardson went through while in high school.

It’s pretty much impossible to have bad feelings about Anthony Richardson right now.

Florida wearing traditional home uniform vs. Alabama: The rather well-built man in the uniform is, per Florida players who commented on the picture on Instagram, strength and conditioning assistant Shawn Facione. It would appear that he misses few days in the gym in his own right.

Gators hope to turn tide of SEC East futility: If Florida knocks off Alabama, it will be the first win for an SEC East team over the Crimson Tide since South Carolina scored one with Steve Spurrier on the sideline and Stephen Garcia throwing passes way back in 2010. (Scott Carter, Florida Gators)

Mullen’s duality as Darth Vader and Yoda? I suppose my feelings on this ESPN piece are summed up by saying that, in conclusion, Dan Mullen is a man of contrasts. (Alex Scarborough, ESPN)

Florida volleyball drops four-set match to FSU: It’s been a grueling and frustrating fall for the Gators, who are 4-4 but have only lost to nationally-ranked Stanford and Baylor teams and the Seminoles — who were playing before a spirited crowd in a match dedicated to Brianna Barry, an All-American player for FSU who was a rising star in the coaching ranks when she passed away earlier this year. (Katie Callahan, Florida Gators)

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