ATLANTA – There’s a saying that goes, “respect is earned not given.” Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson has indeed earned the respect of his teammates and first year head coach Billy Napier.

Richardson, who will be the Gators’ starting quarterback against Utah on week one,  has earned the respect of Napier. Florida’s newest Head Ball Coach believes Richardson will do great things to help bring Florida back to a true contender in the SEC East.

“When given opportunities to play, you could immediately see he had it,” Napier said on RIchardson’s impact on the field. “I remember the game against Oklahoma when he went in and I thought, ‘They have the guy for the future.’” Florida lost 55-20 to the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl.

One of the reasons Napier and others are confident in Richardson is because of his ability to learn combined with his talent to play quarterback at a high level.

“What I’ve been impressed with is that he is bright, humble, cares about his teammates and is willing to work,” Napier said. “I think he is growing up as a leader. He understands the importance of his role. I’m excited about working with him.”

Offensive lineman and left tackle Richard Gouriage saw from the first day how special of a leader Richardson was.

“I remember when he first came here, it was one of the greatest things,” said Gouriage. “He’s been doing everything right and what coaches ask. It shows he’s taking initiative to be that leader.”

Richardson always knew he had the talent and ability to be a leader in his early days of football. At first, he never understood what that fully meant but during his time in Gainesville, he has learned how to be in that role.

“I’ve got to be that guy,” Richardson said when asked about what Napier told him throughout practice. “Throughout my years of playing football, people always told me I could be a leader and I never understood what that really means.I thought it was screaming and yelling. That’s not me. It’s about connecting and bonding with your team and I understand what that means now. If people can trust you and rely on you, it makes it a lot easier.”

Richardson finished last season with six touchdowns and five interceptions on 38-64 passing for 529 yards while playing in seven games.