The Florida Gators are entering the season with a fresh start at the quarterback position, moving on from NFL-bound quarterback Kyle Trask and onto redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones.
But, as is generally the case in football, the team's backup quarterback is just as important and redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson is certainly up for the challenge.
"I have more confidence coming into this spring than I did last year," Richardson told members of the local Florida media on Tuesday. "Last year I didn't really get a spring, so it was just a lot to process trying to get through it all within the time limit that we had in the fall. But this spring I feel like I have a lot more confidence to be able to compete and do what I have to do."
Florida has already begun its spring practices, officially starting on Feb. 18, a full month before it has typically begun. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gators, and a large majority of collegiate football programs, were forced to cancel their spring football program last year, setting back plenty of players, especially those that were freshmen at the time.
Richardson was one of them. A highly-touted dual-threat recruit out of Eastside, the local high school surrounding the University of Florida in Gainesville (Fla).
At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, Richardson is an ideal candidate to become Florida's starting quarterback at some point in his career. But, for now, Richardson is playing to his role, being as supportive as possible to Jones as he can.
"He's been here for a long time," Richardson began of his relationship with Jones. "I know I just got here, but it's still going to be a competition, but all over competing, I try to be a good teammate just to keep him going, keep pushing, just keep the team going forward."
The Gators are also in the middle of a coaching change. Following the season, quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson left to fill the same role with the Philadelphia Eagles. Replacing him will be former Florida analyst Garrick McGee, someone Richardson says has been teaching the signal-callers "a lot."
"I never really knew how to comprehend and understand a defense and the way everything flows, but he came in and just, he's teaching us the basics of everything and how everything falls in line."
During spring football, Richardson has worked on multiple facets of his game, including his accuracy and his ability to understand a defense.
"Everyone knows I can run, so I’m just trying to become more of a passer and I’m just trying to understand defenses more so passing can become easier.”
While he didn't play much last season, completing just one pass for 27 yards and a touchdown, while rushing seven times for 61 yards through three games, Richardson was able to take several key lessons away from Trask, one of the nation's top passers in college football last season.
"As a quarterback, you can’t be too tempted," Richardson says of some of the lessons he took from Trask.
"You can’t move too quick because if you do you might make the wrong read or a bad decision. You don’t need that as a quarterback because basically, you’re the leader of the team, so making smart decisions and being poised and being patient.”
Patience is key at the quarterback position, but perhaps even more so as a team's backup quarterback, biding your time in hopes of earning more playing time, to become the leader of the entire program, essentially. Richardson is practicing being patient and it's one of the lessons he's learned thus far on campus.
"Just keep fighting, relentless effort, and keep going."