Coming off a (10-4) season, the Florida Gators are ending spring football this Friday, with the grand finale of the Orange and Blue game. The Gators struggled with quarterback play with the one year suspension administered to Will Grier by the NCAA in week six of last year’s season. Treon Harris took over the position where he threw for 1,676 yards (No.11 in SEC), nine touchdowns (No.12 in SEC), and six interceptions. With the announcement in February that Harris is transitioning to wideout, a question emerged. Who will take the reigns as the Florida Gators starting quarterback?
There are many candidates including the Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio, Purdue transfer Austin Appleby, and true freshman Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. The early favorite in the eyes of many is Luke Del Rio. Though Jim McElwain, Florida Gator head football coach, has not named a clear starter for the quarterback position coming into the Orange and Blue game. In fact, McElwian thinks there has been a regression in some cases of the quarterback but not to a massive extent
Luke Del Rio comes into Gainesville as a sophomore transfer quarterback from Oregon State. He is not very experienced in college football with the limited reps he had at Oregon State. He played briefly for the Beavers in the 2014 season, completing eight of 18 passes for 141 yards. Though, his experience may be understated due to his dad, Jack Del Rio, who was a former NFL linebacker and coach. McElwain has expressed favor in Del Rio’s quarterback play complimenting him. Though, there is very little known about the quarterback and his progression in the system, we will get to see him in action during the Orange & Blue.
Austin Appleby arrives in Gainesville as a graduate transfer quarterback from Purdue. Out of all the other quarterbacks in the competition he is by far the most experienced. He has played 16 total games in his college career, starting 11 of them, but delivering a record of 2-9 in those 11 starts. Appleby is a gunslinger able to explode for a huge amount of yards in a game averaging 214 yards per game as a starter. This statistic includes Appleby last outing throwing for 332 yards against Indiana. One thing that can be said against Appleby is his decision making. He’s thrown for 19 touchdown’s but also has thrown 19 interceptions in his career. This is the most concerning thing about Appleby. McElwain does see signs of talent from Appleby.
Feleipe Franks emerges in Gainesville as a true freshman superstar well coveted by many powerhouses in college football. He ranks in his class as the No. 5 quarterback according to ESPN and 247sports.com. His last outing was the Army All-American Bowl that stirred up a concerning performance completing 1-of -7 for eight yards and two interceptions.
Kyle Trask comes to Gainesville as a true freshman under the radar. He ranks in his class as the No. 34 quarterback according to ESPN. Florida was the only Division I school to have offered Trask a scholarship. He was not invited to any high school all american-games, but he did lead Manvel High School to a record of 11-3. McElwain believes the two freshman both have talent.
The competition is wide open and anything can happen. There is a lot of time between the Orange and Blue game to the first game against the Minuteman of Massachusetts when the 2016-17 season starts and plenty of time for any of these candidates to prove themselves worthy of being the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators.