A thumbnail glance at UF’s quarterback situation heading into camp next week. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks completed eight of 14 passes in the Orange & Blue Debut spring game. (Photo: Jay Metz/UAA Communications) GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida football team opens fall camp Aug. 3 — barely one week away — and will officially kick off the third season of the Coach Jim McElwain era. As a primer for the preseason, FloridaGators.com will preview the position groupings on offense, defense and special teams, featuring one area a day through Aug. 2.
Here’s Part 1.
They’re back: Luke Del Rio (6-1, 211, R-Junior).
Fresh faces: Feleipe Franks (6-6, 219, R-Freshman); Kyle Trask (6-4, 238, R-Freshman); Malik Zaire (6-0, 225, Graduate transfer/Notre Dame), Jake Allen (6-3, 200, Freshman); Kadarius Toney (5-11, 180, Freshman). Malik Zaire at Notre Dame Overview: Del Rio, a transfer from Oregon State, entered the 2016 season as the starter, based on a strong redshirt season learning the offense and displaying terrific leadership qualities. His season, however, was derailed by knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to just six games — Del Rio completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 1,358 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions — before graduate transfer Austin Appleby took over the final five games of the season. The Gators were last in the Southeastern Conference in total offense (344.0 yards per game) in ’16, but sixth in passing at 215.8 yards per game, though just 12th in passing efficiency (123.4). Del Rio sat out spring practice getting healthy while Franks and Trask, who both redshirted last season, competed presumably for the starting spot. Franks emerged as the front-runner and built on his efforts with a solid showing in the Orange & Blue Game, completing eight-of-14 throws for 114 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Zaire, meanwhile, officially transferred to UF in June. Over three seasons, the mobile left-hander threw passes in nine games for the Fighting Irish, completing 68 of 98, good for 816 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Allen, who won a state championship at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale last fall, figures to redshirt. Don’t sleep on Toney, who is listed as an "Athlete" on the roster. He got a chance to show his stuff in the spring game and demonstrated some wiggle and playmaking ability (five carries, 74 yards, including a 34-yard run).
If season started today: Franks, by rights, heads to camp with a leg up on group, but Zaire, who already has drawn rave reviews as a teammate, figures to be very much in the mix once he can be fully implemented and integrated into the offense, with hands-on coaching from the UF staff. Toney could be a change-of-pace guy in a Wildcat kind of roll.
Speculation: No one is questioning Franks’ ability. He was a hotshot prospect for a reason and certainly earned his place atop the depth chart with his work during spring. Don’t discard Del Rio, either, who won the […]