Pair of Gators on The Athletic’s All-‘Wait, They’re Still Playing College Football?’ team

NCAA Football

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The COVID pandemic of 2020 still has lingering effects on college football after the NCAA granted student-athletes an extra year of eligibility following the pandemic-shortened season. Among the ramifications of the decision is extended collegiate careers for a few gridiron warriors.

The Florida Gators are one of the programs that have benefitted from this extension entering the 2024 campaign with a pair of former transfer portal acquisitions who look to make a mark in the twilight of their amateur eligibility.

Quarterback Graham Mertz, formerly of the Wisconsin Badgers, and safety Asa Turner, formerly of the Washington Huskies, are the two players The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel and Max Olson singled out in their All-“Wait, They’re Still Playing College Football?!” Team — both of whom started their collegiate careers in 2019.

QB Graham Mertz

“This October will mark seven years since the top-100 recruit filled Wisconsin fans with euphoria, becoming that program’s highest-rated QB commit since … ever?

“Unfortunately, his four-year career in Madison was filled with more mediocrity than glory, but given a fresh start in Gainesville, he improved dramatically last year (72.9% passing, 20 TDs, 3 INTs). Mertz is back for what will likely be his fifth consecutive season as a college starter.”

S Asa Turner

“Turner was a true freshman starter at Washington during Chris Petersen’s final season and started 28 of 43 games during his five seasons with the Huskies.

“He’s back for one more, this time in the SEC with the Gators, thanks to an interesting technicality: Turner played in four regular-season games in 2023 and was able to count it as a redshirt season — even though he returned from injury in time to play in the Pac-12 title game and both CFP games.

“Yep, that’s right, a seven-game redshirt. Don’t think we’ve ever seen that before.”

Florida’s 2024 season opener

Florida opens up its 2024 regular-season schedule in the Swamp against the Miami Hurricanes on Aug. 31. Kickoff time is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ABC Sports.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire

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