Photo Credit: University of Florida Athletics Association
This season will bring a great challenge for the Florida Gators receiver group. Especially after losing both tight end Kyle Pitts and receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney to the NFL Draft, it's time for the next guys up to make an impact.
Among those will be sophomore receiver Xzavier Henderson, who says the group calls themselves the 'End Zone Party Boyz,' a name the receivers have begun to call themselves for their performance on the practice field.
"Quick shoutout to Jacob Copeland. He made it up, the 'End Zone Party Boyz,'" Henderson told reporters on Tuesday via Zoom. "We just be in the end zone a lot this past camp and he just made it up one day after practice."
That name has now been used on Copeland's sweatshirts, something he would release on social media on Tuesday. The title comes from the receiver's effort and confidence as the group puts their abilities to the test on the gridiron.
Henderson, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, is expected to bring a lot of juice on the outside of Florida's offensive formation. While he played sparingly this season, he will become one of the primary targets for quarterback Emory Jones this year, likely used as a deep threat, able to take the top off of a defense.
The group made up of Henderson, Copeland, Justin Shorter, Rick Wells and Trent Whittemore as the primary pass catchers will be expected to make plays this year, but Henderson feels he's not the only one on the roster that's able to take the top of a defense.
“Actually, I feel like we all the deep threat," Henderson said on Tuesday. "We call ourselves the ‘End Zone Party Boyz.’ Yeah. We all fast and all deep threat. I consider myself a deep threat as well.”
This season, Florida will likely transition to more of a run-heavy scheme. That much was made clear not only by their change at the QB position but due to the emphasis the team has placed on its running backs group this year, adding to the numbers by bringing in former five-star recruit Demarkcus Bowman via the transfer portal.
Even still, Henderson believes that will only open up more opportunities for receivers, able to become a more balanced offense and catch some defenses off guard this year.
"I actually get excited to hear that we’re going to have a powerful backfield ‘cause it’s going to open up the pass game and make our offense whole," Henderson said.
"So, yeah, we’re going to be pretty good. I feel like the receivers, once they start pounding the ball and open up the run game, it’s going to open it up for us on the perimeter and give us some one-on-one shots.”
Also speaking with reporters yesterday, Shorter made mention of Henderson when asked about a player that could surprise some folks this season.
“Xzavier Henderson, he was just up here, but his growth that I’ve seen just him being able to go out there and just do it," Shorter said yesterday via Zoom.
"I’ve seen him make plays I’m just like in my head, I watch the tape back when I got back home because I didn’t know even how he made that play. I’d say him, he’s going to definitely step up this year and make a lot of great plays.”
Henderson entered UF as a four-star receiver last season. As a freshman, he hauled in nine receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown. His play was praised by coaches, especially after not having a spring, nor a true offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, with a full offseason, spring and fall camp under his belt, Henderson feels the game has slowed down for him, allowing him to make more plays.
"My first year I had to learn a lot, take a lot in," Henderson mentioned.
"The speed of the game, it’s kind of slowed down for my second year because I have more knowledge of the game and now it’s more about executing. Yeah, I’ve seen it a lot throughout my transition from high school to college.”
Now, Henderson will be able to play more freely, something that he no doubt looks forward to this season playing with his fellow receivers, the 'End Zone Party Boyz.'
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