When the Florida Gators open spring practice on Tuesday all eyes will be glued to who lines up behind starting center T.J. McCoy. The Florida Gators will enter spring football camp with a quarterback battle on their hands. What separates the two quarterbacks that will compete for the starting job?
“They’re close. They’re real close. There’s probably about a half-inch difference between them, I think,” McElwain joked. “I don’t know. Kadarius is smaller, though.”
McElwain will give early enrollee Kadarius Toney a chance to play quarterback this spring. Toney was told during his recruitment that he would have the opportunity to play quarterback and Florida is low on numbers, but this is truly a two-horse race.
This won’t be the first spring camp for Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask; both enrolled early prior to last season and had the opportunity to go through a spring camp. In that spring game Trask completes 4-of-7 passes for 63 yards. Franks struggled. He threw three interceptions on 5-of-11 passing, but did connect with C’yontai Lewis for a touchdown. After the spring game the duo was destined for the sideline, calling in signals for Florida’s starting quarterbacks.
“Their understanding and really the respect of the team piece as far as how they go about their business has been great,” McElwain said of the two quarterbacks. “Not to be overshadowed there is Luke’s involvement in helping them prepare to be a starter.”
Both quarterbacks look the part. They’re tall, big, and athletic and have strong arms. Their tangibles are documented but it’s a certain intangible quality that McElwain is looking to see from one of them.
“I think the biggest piece we’re looking for first and foremost is somebody to step up and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to take this and I’m going to lead this team and help the parts around me play better,’” McElwain said. “Now with that, it can’t be forced — it’s got to be natural.”
Franks may enter the spring as the favorite. When Luke Del Rio went down with a shoulder injury McElwain said Franks would play if Del Rio’s backup, Austin Appleby, were to suffer an injury. Franks has led teams before. Franks took his Wakulla War Eagles to the state championship his senior season. Trask was a backup quarterback at Manvel High School in Texas, but was the more polished of the two when they competed last spring.
The biggest challenge for the two will be going from headset wearing, sideline signal callers to leaders. They’ll also be under a microscope with every play and rep filmed and dissected by the staff.
“As always, every drill is graded,” said McElwain. “Everything that you do there is no such thing as a … whether it’s routes on air, the accuracy of the throws and where it needs to be and all those type of things and understanding the importance of every moment means something, take advantage of it.”