Kyle Trask’s face scrunched with confusion.
The redshirt junior quarterback was talking about how Dan Mullen has been meeting with draft-eligible players to educate them on the NFL Draft process but when a natural follow up came asking Trask about the possibility that he might be somewhere else other than Gainesville in 2020 was posed he was taken aback.
“I still have a whole ‘nother year here, so I don’t plan on leaving,” Trask said. “But, it’s great to you know, just be informed, and I’m glad coach Mullen does that to let us know how it all works.”
Trask has stuck it out not just at Florida but in high school as well. It’s been written about so much since he took over the starting job but the cliff notes version is that Trask was a backup quarterback for three years in high school and then again for three-plus years in Gainesville before this season. He has shown a loyalty that is uncommon in today’s society, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the thought of leaving Florida, whether by declaring for the NFL Draft or via transfer had never entered his mind.
It does, however, leave a very crowded quarterback room for Dan Mullen to sort through after this season.
Mullen used the bye week to bring together all of Florida’s draft-eligible players, 29 by our count, and begin the education process of what they need to do and expect. Feleipe Franks is one of those players and the injured former starting quarterback will have a decision to make as well.
“Coach Mullen just wanted to bring all of those eligible guys into the team room, and just inform them on how the process works, whether you want to leave or not,” Trask said. “Just so you can let everyone know how it works, and the consequences of doing one route vs. the other, to really inform us and let us know.”
With Trask’s very clear intention to return to Gainesville the quarterback room, this spring will have Trask, Feleipe Franks, Emory Jones and early enrollee Anthony Richardson. Franks is likely going to be restricted to the sideline as he continues to come back from his injury but the long-term look of the room might cause some sort of attrition.
Trask’s loyalty to Florida is proven. The Gators could find an extra, hidden year of eligibility for Tim Tebow and Trask would gladly show up every day and back Tebow up while Trask finished his Master’s degree. However, Emory Jones and Feleipe Franks are in different situations.
Franks has one more year of eligibility. He could also apply for a medical hardship waiver and potentially have two more years to play college football. He’s also under contract with the Boston Red Sox after being drafted and could try to go pro in baseball. He’s made his intentions of playing football and one day, hopefully, playing in the NFL a reality. Franks has already beaten out Trask and Jones for the starting job at Florida before and knowing the type of competitor that he is, would be shocking to see Franks transfer during the spring. There’s nothing in Franks’ mind that he would see in the spring to make him think he wouldn’t be able to win the starting job again, so why would he transfer while still injured?
Jones, on the other hand, is in a different situation. He’ll be a redshirt sophomore next season, meaning he has three years of eligibility left. He’s the only quarterback on the roster recruited by this staff but will be joined by the second in Anthony Richardson. Realistically, if Jones were to transfer he would be forced to sit out a season and wouldn’t be able to play until 2021. How is that different than if he were to just stay at Florida, starter or backup, in 2020? Theoretically, he would be the next guy in line to start at Florida in 2021. Why go to a new school, new program, new coaches and deal with a new playbook if the timeline to start isn’t changing?
Franks and Trask both would be eligible to apply for medical hardships and potential turn their one season of eligibility into two. Trask has had two season-ending injuries and Franks’ missed most of this season, but that is a decision players don’t make until their current eligibility is exhausted.
At the end of the day it’s not the worst problem for Dan Mullen to have. You’d rather have too many quarterbacks than not enough.