Florida quarterback Malik Zaire will not petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility, ending his college career as well as his time with the Florida Gators. Ryan Young of SEC Country was the first to report Zaire’s decision.
Zaire transferred to Florida after graduating from Notre Dame last spring. Zaire didn’t see any action as a freshman at Notre Dame in 2013. He played in seven games in 2014, including his first career start in the Music City Bowl. Zaire earned the starting job for the Fighting Irish after a tight quarterback race with DeShone Kizer. Zaire suffered a broken ankle in the third game and missed the rest of the season. Kizer took over and never looked back.
Zaire graduated on time from Notre Dame and began to look for a new school. He pushed back several announcements waiting for the SEC to change a transfer rule that would pave the way for him to enroll at Florida, which he did. He also considered Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
Zaire lost out the starting role to redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks but replaced Franks in the season opener against Michigan. Zaire wouldn’t play again until nearly two months later when he replaced Franks at the end of the Georgia game. After Jim McElwain was fired interim head coach Randy Shannon named Zaire the starter. He started on the road at Missouri but was pulled late in a lopsided loss and then sustained a knee injury the following week on the road at South Carolina, effectively ending his season.
Zaire could have petitioned the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver based on his injury in 2015 but will not. Luke Del Rio also chose to end his career at Florida, leaving the Gators with four quarterbacks on the roster. Franks is the only returning quarterback with any playing experience. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask missed the 2017 season following foot surgery and freshman Jake Allen took a redshirt. Dan Mullen did sign a four-star quarterback in Emory Jones, who will enroll at Florida on January 8 and be with the team for spring practice.
Zaire finished his career at Florida with 349 passing yards, no touchdowns, one interception and 39 rushing yards.