2023 College Top 25 Preview: No. 3 Florida

Image credit: Florida RHP Brandon Sproat (Photo by Carla Kakouris)

Last season: 42-24 (15-15 in SEC), lost in regional final
Final ranking: No. 22
Coach (record at school): Kevin O’Sullivan (627-302, 15 seasons)

The good news: Florida’s all-around star power is probably only exceeded by Louisiana State. All-American outfielder Wyatt Langford returns to lead the offense and is in the early mix to be the top overall draft pick. Catcher BT Riopelle and infielders Colby Halter and Josh Rivera are also back, somewhat unexpectedly after being draft eligible in 2022. On the mound, righthander Brandon Sproat is back despite being drafted in the third round. His return and the arrival of righthander Hurston Waldrep (Southern Mississippi) gives Florida an elite 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. O’Sullivan’s Florida teams often have a lot of premium talent and this is no exception, but stars like Langford, Sproat and Waldrep give the Gators a massive ceiling.

The bad news: Florida averaged 6.6 runs per game in 2022, 11th most in the SEC, and now must replace Jud Fabian and Sterlin Thompson, two top-70 draft picks. The Gators traditionally thrive on pitching and defense but will need to rebuild the heart of the lineup around Langford and Riopelle. The team could use a bounceback season from Halter after he had an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League. It will also benefit from a full season from righthander/slugger Jac Caglianone, who hit seven home runs in 104 at-bats after returning from Tommy John surgery. Adding speedster Michael Robertson, who missed last year due to a hamstring injury, brings a new dimension to the lineup. Thanks to its pitching staff, Florida doesn’t need the lineup to outslug opponents every day, but finding some more consistent offense would ease the pressure on the mound.


Player to know: Wyatt Langford, OF.

Langford appeared in just four games as a freshman in 2021—all as a pinch hitter—but broke out in a big way as a sophomore. He hit .355/.447/.719 with 26 home runs, matching the program record. He earned All-American honors, a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and played his way into contention to be the top player drafted this July. It’s a remarkable rise for Langford, who was a well-regarded prospect in high school, but was not predicted to become one of the best hitters in program history. Improving on last season won’t be easy, but Langford has all the tools to again anchor the lineup.

Path to Omaha: Florida hasn’t won a regional since 2018, despite hosting each of the last two seasons. It has the talent to go to Omaha and compete for a national title, especially on the mound, where the Gators may have the best staff in the country. But all those arms will have to find their proper roles and Florida will need to stay healthier than last year, when its plans were thrown into disarray by injuries. With some better injury luck, and if Florida’s lineup gels around Langford, the Gators should be able to make their return to the sport’s top echelon.


C BT Riopelle R-Sr. .304 .371 .551 227 15 55
1B Tyler Shelnut Jr.
Transfer—Santa Fe (Fla.) JC
2B Cade Kurland Fr. HS—Tampa          
3B Colby Halter Jr. .240 .338 .380 250 8 27
SS Josh Rivera R-Jr. .254 .351 .429 224 9 32
OF Wyatt Langford Jr. .355 .447 .719 256 26 63
OF Michael Robertson R-Fr.
Did not play—injured
OF Ty Evans So. .242 .301 .465 99 5 16
DH Jac Caglianone So. .288 .339 .548 104 7 27
Pos. Name Class W L ERA IP SO SV
SP Brandon Sproat R-Jr. 9 4 3.41 90 82 0
SP Hurston Waldrep Jr.
Transfer—Southern Mississippi
SP Pierce Coppola So. 0 0 4.15 4 7 0
RP Clete Hartzog Jr.
Transfer—Wallace-Dothan (Ala.) JC
RP Blake Purnell R-So. 3 3 2.86 50 39 4

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