Kadarius Toney, Jacob Copeland rejoin Florida Gators practice before 2020 season

By Adam Silverstein
August 26, 2020
Kadarius Toney, Jacob Copeland rejoin Florida Gators practice before 2020 season
Football

Image Credit: UAA

Now a few days into fall practice for the 2020 college football season, the Florida Gators officially have their full compliment of players. That was not the case when practice began for Florida last week and head coach Dan Mullen announced a handful of players did not attend, a group that was later determined to consist of three starting wide receivers and a starting defensive lineman.

While Mullen confirmed there were absences, he did not get into specifics, saying he would let any players — or even coaches — who decided not to participate this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic announce their choices on their own.

As it turns out, the Gators — at least as of now — will be operating at full strength as wide receivers senior Kadarius Toney and redshirt sophomore Jacob Copeland rejoined the team on Monday.

Back on Aug. 3, Toney and Copeland tweeted about the possibility of not playing this season. Then, they did not show up for the start of practice, sitting out alongside senior WR Trevon Grimes and redshirt junior DL Zachary Carter.

Both Grimes and Carter announced last week that they were committed to play for Florida this fall with Carter stating he would be doing so “in honor of all COVID-19 fighters and victims.” Carter’s father was stricken with the coronavirus this summer, and his mother’s long-time friend died of the disease.

Neither Toney nor Copeland made any formal announcements, though both tweeted pictures of themselves in practice gear on Monday.

The 2020 season begins for the SEC in 31 days.

Around 50 Power Five players have opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was thought that Florida would be without some of its best athletes given the situation. Among those opt outs are numerous players whose conferences (Big Ten, Pac-12) ultimately decided to cancel their fall seasons with hopes of playing in spring 2021.

The SEC continues to push toward playing this fall, though it has bumped back its planned start date to the traditional Week 4 on Sept. 26 and has gone to a 10-game, conference-only schedule.

Mullen announced Monday that UF players will be tested three times per week; the SEC has since confirmed that is mandatory across all of its teams. Players will take two PCR tests along with one rapid test closer to kickoffs. The SEC is also mandating increased heart monitoring for participating players, as well as masks or neck gaiters for all sideline personnel and inactive players. Players in competition must wear neck gaiters and pull them up for timeouts and similar situations.

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