SEC

Breaking Down The Florida Quarterback Battle


Who’ll be the Florida starting quarterback? There might not be another superstar who’ll be ready this year, but the Gators will simply settle for decent production.


It’s Florida: the school of one-name legendary Heisman winners Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow.

It’s Kerwin Bell, and Wayne Peace and Rex Grossman. It’s Chris Leak, and Shane Matthews and Doug Johnson.

It’s the school that’s supposed to feed other teams with guys who can’t cut it in The Swamp – for whatever reason.

It’s Jeff Driskel going to Louisiana Tech and putting up massive numbers. It’s super-recruit Brock Berlin getting beaten out and going to Miami. It’s Jacoby Brissett being good enough for NC State, and it’s Cam Newton winning a Heisman and national title for Auburn.

It’s Florida. It’s not supposed to dive into other schools’ garbage cans for a starting quarterback.

But that’s exactly what the Gators are having to do this year, though the results might not be all that bad.

This was supposed to be when Will Grier came into his own as the established franchise star, yet he went on the Maria Sharapova workout plan and now he’s starting his football life over – at least next year – at West Virginia. Florida saw what life was like without him over the second half of last season, and it wasn’t pretty.

This was supposed to be when Gator fans started drooling over the future with a pure passer like Jacob Eason. Unfortunately for them, Eason kept his commitment to Georgia and now might ruin the next few installments of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Florida will now try to win the SEC East again with quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it at Oregon State and Purdue.

Graduate transfer Austin Appleby is a versatile 6-4, 235-pound former Boilermaker who had his moments in 11 starts. He’s got a good arm, can run a little bit, and has the smarts to step in right away and know what he’s doing. So what’s the problem?

He throws lots and lots of interceptions, giving up 19 over the last two seasons and losing the job to freshman David Blough last year on a team in desperate need of a smart, veteran offensive leader.

Sophomore Luke Del Rio started out his career at Alabama, left for Oregon State, and then with Gary Andersen taking over and switching offensive styles, transferred over to Florida. The 6-1, 213-pound son of Oakland Raider head coach Jack Del Rio has the smarts of a coach’s son and, this spring, looked like the steady, solid passer who’ll fit what the Gators need to do.

Kyle Trask wasn’t a top recruit – he wasn’t the starter for his high school team – but he looks the part with 6-4, 227-pound size and a strong, accurate arm. He’d have been a find for Florida head coach Jim McElwain if he was back at Colorado State, but at Florida it’s going to be a fight to move up the depth chart early on.

Fellow freshman Feleipe Franks is the most talented quarterback on the roster. He has all the tools: a cannon for an arm, mobility, and a 6-6, 216-pound frame, but he needs seasoning. He’s more likely the main man for the job next year – or at least pushing for it.

Who’ll Be The Florida Stating Quarterback?

Grier was a playmaker in key moments early last season, and with a great defense and strong running game returning, Florida can win with the best game manager possible. That’s Del Rio.

At the very least, Appleby will allow the coaching staff to sleep well at night over the backup situation – especially after last year’s offensive meltdown once Grier was out of the mix – while Franks will get groomed as the star of the future. Trask will almost certainly redshirt.