Photo: Jack Miller III; Credit: Zach Goodall
Third-year redshirt freshman Jack Miller III will start at quarterback Florida (6-6) takes on No. 14 Oregon State (9-3) in the 2022 SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl next Saturday, Gators head coach Billy Napier said on Thursday.
Miller will take over the role vacated by season-long starter Anthony Richardson, who declared for the 2023 NFL Draft on Monday and intends to skip the game.
It was previously expected that, as long as Richardson entered the draft, redshirt freshman Jalen Kitna would take over as the Gators starting quarterback for the postseason. Kitna snatched Florida's No. 2 quarterback role earlier in the fall while Miller recovered from preseason surgery for a thumb avulsion fracture in his throwing hand.
However, Kitna was arrested last Wednesday for five preliminary charges relating to child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and has since been dismissed from the team, leaving Miller as the most experienced signal-caller on Florida's roster.
Napier indicated that Miller was cleared from his thumb injury roughly one month ago, adding that he's "perfectly healthy" as the bowl game approaches.
"While he was rehabbing, we’re very intentional about keeping those guys engaged," Napier continued. "He’s traveled with us. He’s went through the process of prepping each week, watching the cut-ups, all those things at the end of the week from a test and tips standpoint, so he’s been through the prep for a game."
Behind Miller on Florida's current projected depth chart is walk-on redshirt sophomore Kyle Engel and true freshman Max Brown, who began playing football as a junior in high school. The trio will see their workload increase over the next week as a result of Richardson's departure and Kitna's expulsion from the team.
"[Miller has] been able to take reps and certainly this week in particular he’s been able to take a bunch of reps," Napier said. "Him, to go along with Kyle Engel, Max Brown those three guys will take the majority of the reps today, tomorrow and obviously when we get to the Oregon State prep.”
Miller, who has yet to attempt a pass for Florida in a game, completed 7-of-14 attempts for 101 yards in four games for Ohio State in 2021. In Florida's Orange and Blue spring game this past April, he posted a 13-of-23 passing line with 121 yards and an end zone interception.
Napier expressed confidence in Miller considering his transfer to UF occurred prior to spring camp earlier this year, offering the Scottsdale, Ariz. native ample opportunities to learn the Gators' offensive system.
The biggest hill to climb is the fact that the Las Vegas Bowl will serve as Miller's first career start.
"You’ve got to remember, Jack joined us back in the springtime," Napier noted. "So he went through spring practice and summer and the majority of training camp as the No. 2. And he was the No. 2 for a little bit early in the year.
"Obviously the volume of work will be a little bit different for him. That’ll be the biggest challenge.”
Kickoff between Florida and Oregon State is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT on December 17 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.
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