It's never too late to re-introduce yourself to the Orange and Blue, at least that's what it appears former Florida Gators safety Chauncey "CJ" Gardner-Johnson will be doing on Monday, attending the team's spring practice to observe the 2021 squad.
On the surface, the visit appears to have simply spurred from an innocent tweet from Gardner-Johnson to Florida head coach Dan Mullen, simply asking "When the next practice?! I’m trying to pull up" with a single eyeball emoji to boot.
Mullen, of course, would respond in kind with the date, and a simple "see you there."
The Gators began its spring football a full month earlier than expected with the first practice taking place Thursday of last week. The team will conduct a total of 15 practices to get finely tuned for the 2021 season ahead. Spring football will become the most-important evaluating offseason tool the team will have entering this season.
Gardner-Johnson played for Florida from 2016-18, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, making three starts. He would be named the team's MVP of the Outback Bowl in 2017, recording two tackles, two interceptions, including an interception returned for a touchdown.
He would become one of the team's most-coveted players within the secondary and was eventually moved to the team's STAR (nickel/safety) position just prior to his junior year, a position where he thrived at.
In three years, Gardner-Johnson recorded 161 total tackles (92 solos), 15.5 tackles-for-loss, 12 pass breakups nine interceptions and three touchdowns.
Florida has yet to truly replace Gardner-Johnson within its secondary, trying many players, but no one has been able to perform at the same level of production as the former Florida star player.
Gardner-Johnson would declare for the 2019 NFL Draft and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round, pick No. 105. His fall in the draft was unexpected, however, he has thrived in his role with the Saints, playing a similar position as he did in college.
Now, Gardner-Johnson will have a chance to see what his former team looks like with the influx of talent Mullen has been able to bring in following his final year with the program.