ASU quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) throws a pass during a spring practice at the Kajikawa practice fields in Tempe on April 16, 2024.

Jaden Rashada sues Florida’s Billy Napier over NIL deal

Former Florida recruit Jaden Rashada is suing Gators football coach Billy Napier and a prominent booster over a $13.85 million name, image and likeness deal that went awry.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida alleges that they made “false and fraudulent promises” to induce Rashada to sign with the program in 2022.

Rashada initially committed to the University of Miami, where he reportedly had a $9.5 million NIL deal on the table. He flipped to Florida after agreeing to a $13.85 million deal with the now-defunct Gator Collective.

The lawsuit claims that Napier promised a $1 million “partial payment” to Rashada’s father when the quarterback prospect signed his national letter of intent, but that the payment never was received.

“As the first scholar-athlete to take a stand against such egregious behavior by adults who should know better, Jaden seeks to hold Defendants accountable for their actions and to expose the unchecked abuse of power that they shamelessly wielded,” states the lawsuit, according to a copy obtained by USA Today.

Florida booster Hugh Hathcock and a former Florida staffer, Marcus Castro-Walker, are named in the lawsuit along with Napier.

“Once Jaden committed to UF, rather than make Jaden ‘rich’ as promised, these people — with Hathcock leading the charge — changed their tune and went back on their word. The amount of UF-affiliated NIL money available for Jaden decreased drastically,” the lawsuit states.

Florida athletic department spokesman Steve McClain issued a statement on Tuesday.

“We do not comment on ongoing litigation, and neither the University Athletic Association nor the University are named in the complaint. The UAA will provide for Coach Napier’s personal counsel, and we will direct all questions to those representatives,” read the statement.

Rashada ended up withdrawing his letter of intent with Florida and enrolled at Arizona State. He appeared in three games for the Sun Devils as a freshman in 2023, passing for 485 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

He transferred from Arizona State to Georgia for the upcoming 2024 season and has four years of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Cormani McClain (1) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Colorado CB Cormani McClain heading to Florida

Cormani McClain, the No. 1 cornerback prospect of the Class of 2023, is transferring from Colorado to Florida.

Multiple outlets reported the news on Wednesday, before the Florida native posted a photo and message on social media confirming the news.

“It’s always a lesson when you take a lost, as soon as you find it correct it. #Backhome,” he wrote.

McClain entered the transfer portal in April after starting four of nine games under head coach Deion Sanders at Colorado last season, recording 13 tackles and two pass breakups.

A Lakeland, Fla., native, McClain visited Florida’s campus twice recently, per 247Sports.

As a five-star recruit, McClain committed to Miami but flipped to Colorado in January 2023 to play for Sanders.

Sanders, in an interview last month, said he wants to see his former player succeed at the college level.

“I pray to God that he goes to a program that challenges him, as well as holds him accountable and develops him as a young man,” Sanders told DNVR, a Denver-based outlet. “Unfortunately, we weren’t the program that could accomplish that.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell (3) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Texans WR Tank Dell wounded in shooting, out of hospital

Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell suffered a “minor” injury in a shooting just after midnight Sunday, the team confirmed.

“We have been made aware that Tank Dell was a victim of a shooting in Sanford, Fla., last night,” the Texans said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “He sustained a minor wound but has been released from the hospital and he is in good spirits. We are in contact with him and his family and will provide more updates when appropriate but we ask that you please respect his privacy at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the incident.”

Dell was one of 10 people wounded in a shooting outside of a nightclub, according to media reports from Florida. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said none of the victims’ injuries are life-threatening. A 16-year-old was arrested and charged with attempted homicide and other charges.

The venue said in a Facebook post that it was rented out for a private event Saturday night and the owners are still gathering information.

Dell, 24, is a native of nearby Daytona Beach. He had a strong rookie season in 2023, with 47 receptions for 709 yards and seven touchdowns over his first 11 games (eight starts), but he suffered a broken leg early in a Week 12 game against Denver and missed the rest of the season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Detailed view of the New Orleans Saints helmet during warmups against the Atlanta Falcons at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Former Saints LB Ronald Powell dies at 32

Former New Orleans Saints linebacker Ronald Powell died Monday at age 32, the NFL Players Association announced on Tuesday.

The cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

The University of Florida acknowledged the death of Powell, who played for the Gators from 2010-13.

Word of Powell’s death began circulating Monday after former Saints teammate Junior Galette announced it on social media.

Powell was a fifth-round pick by New Orleans in the 2014 draft and played in 14 games for the Saints that season. He was released shortly before the start of the 2015 campaign. He didn’t play in another NFL game.

Powell was a highly coveted high school player from Southern California and one of the top national recruits in the 2010 class. He signed with Urban Meyer-coached Florida.

Powell had 18.5 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks, during three seasons with the Gators. He missed the entire 2012 campaign due to an ACL tear sustained during the spring.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Roydell Williams (5) reacts against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Alabama RB Roydell Williams transfers to Florida State

Former Alabama running back Roydell Williams told reporters Saturday that he is transferring to Florida State.

Williams said he committed to Seminoles coach Mike Norvell during his weekend visit.

“I feel like I fit in pretty well,” Williams said of the Florida State offense. “It was an opportunity he put on the table for me and I’m ready to take the best position there is for me.”

Williams rushed for 1,165 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons at Alabama. He also had two receiving touchdowns, one coming this season.

In 2023, Williams for 560 yards and five scores.

Florida State was one of Williams’ finalists when he was a high school star and rated as the No. 4 player by Alabama in the 247Sports composite.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators recruit DJ Lagway listens to Florida Gators offensive analyst for quarterbacks Ryan O'Hara speak after the game during the Florida Gators Orange and Blue Spring Game at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Thursday, April 13, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Orange Blue Spring Game

Florida-bound QB DJ Lagway named Gatorade POY

Quarterback DJ Lagway, who will play in the fall at Florida, has been named the 39th Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.

Lagway, honored as the Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas on Wednesday, was one of three finalists for the national award, which was announced Friday.

“We all know what a big deal this award is and we are all aware of DJ’s talent, but this award is also a testament to the type of person he is off the field,” Florida head coach Billy Napier said. “The way he carries himself, his character, his work ethic, his drive and his focus are the things that make him exceptional. I’m proud of him.”

The award also is based on academics and off-field activities. He had a 3.48 GPA and while in high school volunteered to work with seniors and at the food bank, and he also spoke to youngsters in schools and churches.

The 6-foot-2, 225 pound Lagway is ranked by the 247Sports composite as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 quarterback in the 2024 class.

Playing for Willis High School in 2023, Lagway led his team to a 12-1 mark and its first district championship in 21 years. He completed 72.1 percent of his pass attempts for 4,604 yards and 58 touchdowns, and he also ran for 957 yards with 16 TDs.

He becomes the fourth Florida player to win the award, following John Brantley (2007), Brock Berlin (2000) and Emmitt Smith (1987).

–Field Level Media

Eastern Washington Eagles linebacker Elijah Rodriguez (52) gets a hand on Florida Gators quarterback Jalen Kitna (11) in the second half at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Sunday, October 2, 2022. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Eastern Washington Eagles

Former Florida QB Jalen Kitna transferring to UAB

Former Florida Gators quarterback Jalen Kitna has committed to join coach Trent Dilfer’s program at UAB, ESPN reported Saturday.

Kitna was kicked off the team at Florida in November 2022 after an arrest on felony charges that were later dropped.

Kitna was facing five felony counts of possessing and distributing child pornography before agreeing to a plea deal in July. He pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct.

He avoided jail time and was placed on six months of probation for each count. He did not have to register as a sex offender.

Dilfer and UAB athletic director Mark Ingram told ESPN that “extensive due diligence” was done while reviewing Kitna’s application to the school.

A university spokesperson told ESPN that Kitna has been admitted to the school and will be on the Birmingham, Ala., campus next week for an official visit.

In a statement to ESPN published Saturday, Kitna said he was “grateful for the opportunity” at UAB.

“I acknowledge that I made naive decisions that I deeply regret and have since learned from,” he said. “As a result, I took responsibility by pleading no-contest to second-degree misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges related to those decisions.”

Kitna, the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, said he weighed “multiple offers” before choosing to play for the Blazers.

“I firmly believe that UAB is the perfect fit for me,” the 6-foot-4 sophomore told ESPN. “I consider myself fortunate to be in Birmingham, surrounded by an incredible support system, having found a church family, and being able to take advantage of the numerous resources offered by the university.”

Kitna was the backup to eventual NFL first-round pick Anthony Richardson at Florida in 2022. He appeared in four games for the Gators and threw for 181 yards and one touchdown.

Kitna was a three-star prospect in the 2021 recruiting class coming out of Burleson, Texas. He was ranked as the No. 55 quarterback in the country by the 247 Sports composite.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) makes yards during first half action as Florida takes on Florida State at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 25, 2023. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Report: Ex-Florida RB Trevor Etienne transferring to Georgia

Georgia replenished its running back room on Sunday, landing a commitment from transfer Trevor Etienne, On3 reported.

Etienne spent the past two seasons with Georgia’s rival in the Southeastern Conference — Florida — and has two years of eligibility remaining. In 2023, he led the Gators in rushing touchdowns (eight), yards per carry (5.7) and yards per game (68.4) with 753 total rushing yards in 11 games (one start).

Georgia will be losing seniors Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards and will count on Etienne as a veteran presence.

He ran for 719 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. He also returned 17 kicks for 421 yards.

His older brother, Jacksonville Jaguars tailback Travis Etienne, played at Clemson.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; A general view of a Florida Gators helmet against the Missouri Tigers  prior to a game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Florida lands Ivy League DPOY Joey Slackman from Penn

Penn defensive tackle Joey Slackman announced Sunday night he is transferring to Florida.

It’s a big get for the Gators’ defense, as Slackman won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2023. Slackman tallied 50 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, four hurries and a blocked field goal over just nine games.

Slackman has one more year of NCAA eligibility.

“It was the place where I felt like every aspect of myself as a player and a person could be developed,” Slackman said in a statement to ESPN. “Getting to the draft next year is a goal of mine — obviously winning comes first — and Florida is a place where I feel like I can get everything out of a place and give everything I have to a place in a year.”

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Slackman had 115 tackles (25 for loss) and 11 sacks in 28 games over the past three seasons with the Quakers.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators defensive end Princely Umanmielen (1) tackles Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Carson Beck (15) during the first half at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, October 28, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Ex-Florida star Princely Umanmielen chooses Ole Miss

Former Florida star pass rusher Princely Umanmielen indicated Friday that he is transferring to Ole Miss.

Umanmielen posted a picture of himself in an Ole Miss uniform on social media with the word “COMMITTED.”

It represents a big score for the Rebels after Umanmielen had team-best outputs of seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss for the Gators this season. He was a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection.

In 2022, Umanmielen had 9.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks.

In four seasons with the Gators, Umanmielen had 24.5 tackles for loss (including 15 sacks), three forced fumbles and 99 tackles in 45 games. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media