The Florida Gators’ last truly successful quarterback is currently hitting baseballs in the New York Met’s organization and the search for the next one still continues.
Jim McElwain was brought to Florida, in large part, to fix a woeful offense that had had more success driving fans off than driving down the field. Entering year three McElwain has two quarterbacks he recruited competing for the starting job. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks came out ahead of Kyle Trask in the spring, but McElwain kept looking for more options.
“I’ve said it doesn’t matter the position you’re trying to strengthen your team in any way you can,” McElwain said at SEC Media Days on Tuesday.
In this case that came in the form of Notre Dame transfer quarterback Malik Zaire. The lefty played in 15 games for the Golden Domers but went looking for a new school after graduating this season. Zaire chose Florida after one of the worst kept secrets in college football and the dynamic of Florida’s future at quarterback changed.
“It wasn’t a huge pitch,” McElwain said of how Zaire came to Florida. “He’s a guy, I think some people mentioned to him (Florida) is a place that maybe he should look at where he might have an opportunity. The parts around him, I’m really excited about the parts around him.”
First, the question begs to be asked, does the fact that McElwain and his coaching staff felt the need to go looking for a new quarterback after watching the two they recruited all spring serve as a damnation of the two? Why is it so hard to recruit and develop quarterbacks?
“In our case,” McElwain said when asked that question directly. “Obviously there were some numbers that weren’t there to begin with. Had
an unfortunate thing happen there that first year. And then again last
year, we’ve been snake-bitten a little bit, and yet that’s no excuse.
We’ve just got to keep working at it, and that’s something we’ll do.”
The battle for who will be the starting quarterback when the Gators line up against Michigan on September 2 is far from over, or is it?
Bringing in a graduate transfer quarterback can be tricky. The Gators coaching staff and the four quarterbacks from 2016 all agreed publically that the room was good, all of the guys were supportive of one another and Franks and Trask were redshirting. As McElwain stated Tuesday, Zaire didn’t come to Florida to “hold a clipboard.”
“I’m excited about having him in there. We’re now up to finally our number in the scholarship count that we want to be in the quarterback room,” McElwain said of the addition. “We’ve got some real options there. And that’s a good thing. And yet, you know, he’s a guy that can light up the room with his smile. He’s excited to be there and excited to compete, and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens this fall.”
Will Franks, who came out of spring camp ahead of Trask, start? Could it be Luke Del Rio, who started throwing again after two surgeries on his shoulders this offseason? Or will it be the lucky lefty from Notre Dame? McElwain isn’t going to announce that any time soon but, like Coach said…
Malik Zaire didn’t come to Florida to hold a clipboard.