Florida turns to ex-Ohio State QB Jack Miller to start Vegas Bowl


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida quarterback Jack Miller, who transferred from Ohio State last December, will make his first collegiate start when the Gators play 17th-ranked Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Coach Billy Napier made the announcement three days after standout Anthony Richardson left school early to start preparing for the NFL combine and a week after backup Jalen Kitna was kicked off the team following his arrest on child pornography charges.

Miller was slotted to be Richardson’s backup during training camp before injuring his right thumb in August and needing surgery. Four months later, he’ll get a chance to show he deserves to at least be in the mix for the No. 1 job next season.

“He has been participating in practice for a number of weeks,” Napier said. “He’s perfectly healthy. … While he was rehabbing, we were very intentional about keeping those guys engaged. 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. Obviously, the volume of work will be a little bit different for him. That’ll be the biggest challenge.”

Miller will be without at least two offensive starters since the Gators (6-6) had four players opt out of the bowl: Richardson, All-Southeastern Conference guard O'Cyrus Torrence, linebacker Ventrell Miller and receiver Justin Shorter.

Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter turned pro Monday but will stick around for the Vegas trip. Several teammates who either already entered the transfer portal or considered skipping Florida’s bowl also agreed to play the season finale, some of them surely because of the destination.

“We’ve just got a lot of guys that are looking for an opportunity,” Napier said. “They want to play, and we’ve got a lot of respect for that.”

The Las Vegas Bowl is Dec. 17.

Miller played sparingly behind Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud last year for Ohio State, completing 7 of 14 passes for 101 yards. He also ran for 22 yards and a score in mop-up duty. Not wanting to sit behind Stroud another season, the 6-foot-3, 211-pound Arizona native landed in Gainesville to compete with Emory Jones and Richardson.

He quickly moved up the depth chart after Jones left in March (transferred to Arizona State) and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson left for Syracuse a month later.

With Kitna and Richardson now gone, the Gators are down four scholarship quarterbacks over the past nine months. Kitna would have started the bowl, but he was arrested last week after a police investigation found he allegedly shared child pornography pictures on a social media platform.

“Obviously it’s a sad, tragic event for all the people involved here,” Napier said in his first public comments since Kitna’s arrest. “I think really trying to help all the people involved.

“Obviously, Jalen is going to have to move forward. But it’s a challenge, and it’s one that I appreciate our leadership … certainly we’ve done everything we can do to help our players and staff. But as you said here, there’s some things that come with that. We’re turning the page and moving forward.”

Napier will turn to the transfer portal for help. He has four-star commitment Jaden Rashada ready to sign later this month but is expected to sign a polished starter and maybe another quarterback from the portal to provide more depth. Behind Miller, Florida has walk-on Kyle Engel and freshman Max Brown.

“I think we all would agree that this game, the quarterback position’s effect on your team with not only the production part but the leadership part, it’s critical,” Napier said. “We’ll be working hard to address some of the issues at that position.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.