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Daejon Reynolds Reflects on Career Day in Relief of Banged-Up Gators WRs

Florida Gators wide receiver Daejon Reynolds reflects on his career day as a depth piece in a banged up position group.

Over the past few weeks, the Florida Gators wide receiver room has endured a troubling spell of injuries that has quickly depleted the room as we enter into the closing stages of the season.

Heading into the season as an already thin unit, the wideout position had little room for attrition this season.

While it held up nicely in the opening segment of the year — despite a preseason foot injury for Arizona State transfer Ricky Pearsall, leaving his status for Week 1 against Utah unknown before he eventually suited up — the week of Florida’s trip to Texas A&M sparked the first significant injury for the wide receivers corps this season.

Firstly, leading pass catcher Justin Shorter was sidelined for a hamstring injury he picked up in practice in the days leading up to the trek to College Station. His replacement, Ja’Quavion Fraziars, would hurt his shoulder during that contest to take away two of the 10 scholarship wideouts on the roster.

Then, against South Carolina, Florida saw another top contributor in Xzavier Henderson sidelined with a lower-body injury, while Shorter missed his second game in a row. Henderson would be ruled out for the Gators' Week 12 bout with Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Despite getting Shorter back for that contest, Florida continued to see injuries stack on top of each other as Pearsall, Marcus Burke and Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman went down with undisclosed wounds at various points in the game. However, the unit continued producing at a high level even in the midst of the constant rotation at the position, serving as a testament to Keary Colbert’s development of the unit this season. 

The notable emergence from the pack of reserves who were given an opportunity to excel on Saturday was Springfield, Ill., native Daejon Reynolds.

He emerged as the dependable reserve for the offense to utilize on Saturday opposite Shorter in a big way.

Reynolds' eight receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns marked the best single-game performance by a Florida pass-catcher this season. He exited FirstBank stadium owning the team's single-game high in yards and touchdown receptions this season, while tied with Shorter for their eight receptions apiece on Saturday.

“The team kinda knew what I could do, so I felt I had to prove to the coaches what I could really do,” Reynolds said on Monday. “I kinda gave myself an extra edge of confidence. I always knew I could do it, but doing it in a game makes it feel a lot better.”

His performance was a major aspect of Florida’s increased offensive success in the latter portion of the contest as it looked to climb back in after trailing by 16.

In fact, Reynolds was the direct piece that made the plays needed to aid that comeback attempt. Notably, he was on the receiving end of the 74-yard score that cut the Commodores' lead to 10 with 12:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I kind of knew I was going to get that pass,” he said. “Even just the first couple of steps I was taking, I kind of knew it was coming my way. I knew I had to catch it.”

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When it hit his hands in stride, his mindset shifted. 

“I was hoping to score,” Reynolds said.

He proceeded to credit Napier’s play design for giving the “DBs an illusion” to pull them out of the spot in the deep middle so he could take the defense over the top.

A step inward about ten yards into the route allowed him to find the gap in the secondary. He pushed vertical from there, catching the ball on the right hash to score the Gators' second touchdown of the afternoon.

Then, as the clock ticked under four minutes, quarterback Anthony Richardson once again found Reynold for a score, this time from 16 yards out to make it a one-score game for the Gators. That came following a dropped ball in the same spot of the end zone just two plays earlier.

However, they ultimately failed to capitalize on some of their late offensive success to walk out of Nashville unscathed.

Reynolds recognized that despite the career day. The redshirt freshman expressed his discontent with the result and intentions to do more to contribute to favorable outcomes moving forward.

“It felt great,” he explained on Monday, “but when I made the stats and the touchdowns that I did, I feel like it just wasn’t enough to get my team the W. I held myself to a higher standard, so I feel as if I need to do more to get that W.”

While it may not have amounted to a victory for Florida, Reynolds’ breakout game came in minutemen fashion as he assumed an integral role within Florida's offense at a depleted wide receiver position on short notice.

Adding depth at that spot will be a focal point for the Gators heading into the offseason and the future. Four 2023 wideout commits — Eugene Wilson III, Aidan Mizell, Andy Jean and Tyree Patterson — are set to step into the fold as a result.

However, Reynolds made a resounding statement regarding his future in the Gators' WR room with his performance on Saturday. He looks to continue carving out a role now that he has confidence and a productive outing under his belt.

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