A look at the 2016 Gator quarterback position

It has been a crazy few weeks with regard to the look of the 2016 quarterback unit of the Florida Gators. But, the topsy-turvy recent nature may not be over just yet.

Since the start of December, the Florida Gators have gotten a commitment from a four-star quarterback were courting and the final two for another before seeing that one stay with his original commitment, and lost the early starter from the 2015 team to transfer.

Wow, what a month at the position!!!

Things should settle down a great deal from all of that turmoil, but may not be totally done just yet as we head into January.

We already know that Florida was looking hard at another quarterback in the 2016 class with two already committed when five-star Jacob Eason came into play. A team that has had its issues with both numbers and quality play at the position in 2015 has two solid commitments from Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, but head coach Jim McElwain would like more competition at the position.

So before we get too comfortable, we have to understand that four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a prospect the staff will likely target pretty hard for the rest of the recruiting cycle.

Haskins committed to Maryland before the start of the season. Since then the Terps have fired their head coach and have defensive minded D.J. Durkin at the helm. They still remain the favorite for the big time signal caller, but Florida is definitely not out of the picture.

Haskins visited The Swamp officially for the game against Florida State and saw firsthand that the Gators need help at quarterback. Not really one for doing interviews, word was out shortly after the visit that Haskins was really intrigued with the quarterback situation at Florida, despite a commitment from 2016 signal caller Kyle Trask and the impending commitment of 2016 four-star thrower Feleipe Franks.

The Gators continued recruiting Haskins all through the flirtation with Eason. And now, it seems his interest is at even a higher level with the transfer of redshirt freshman Will Grier, who many thought would regain the starting role on the team after he finished his suspension in the middle of next season. Haskins has been active on Twitter, especially with Gators’ commit Chauncey Gardner, about visiting Florida again in January.


So, the recruitment will continue and so will the guesses as to what the overall look of the quarterback situation will be in 2016, but we know there will be competition.

The names we know for sure, at least until the early enrollee freshmen show up in January will be junior Treon Harris, redshirt junior walk on Luke Del Rio, freshman Feleipe Franks, and freshman Kyle Trask.

Of the four, most would put the front runner for the job as Del Rio. His story is a little different.

Out of high school in Jacksonville where is father was the head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, Del Rio had a nice career, and had several offers to play division 1. He turned sown the offers in order to walk on at Alabama and was coached in his only year at Alabama by Doug Nussmeier, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, just as he is now at Florida. In that year, there were times when Del Rio had shots to get on the field, but playing time never materialized.

Then Nussmeier left for Michigan and Del Rio checked out of Alabama and transferred to Oregon State where he was given a scholarship and also allowed to play immediately after appealing the rule that says you must sit for a year. He didn’t win the starting job, but was behind Sean Mannion who would get drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL draft in April.  He completed eight passes in 18 attempts for 141 yards on the year.

Oregon State lost their head coach and Del Rio was on the move again. This time he landed in Gainesville and would have to sit out the year due to transfer.

There was a lot of talk in the offseason about Del Rio’s talent and maybe he was better than anyone else the Gators had on the field. That was all behind the scenes innuendo and we still have to see what he can do.  McElwain when asked about Del Rio this week said he wasn’t on scholarship, but “will be heavily in the mix” in the spring.

The likelihood of Treon Harris being the starter doesn’t seem very high. He just doesn’t seem to be able to do the things they want him to do at the position. Still, he has been a part of some might big wins at Florida and that can’t be discounted.

Maybe better offensive line play or just confidence in that group could help with having a more productive spring, but the likelihood of him being the starter again seems very low.

That leaves the two freshmen coming in. Both were on completely different paths to get to Florida and both will be here in the spring to compete and get ready for the fall.

Feleipe Franks was a long time commitment to LSU before changing that commitment at the beginning of December. The Franks family lives just outside of Tallahassee but have been Gator fans for quite some time. Brother Jordan was close to getting an offer a couple of years ago, but ended up at UCF.

Franks comes to Florida behind a remarkable career at Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Florida ) where he has been the starter for three years and a prolific player at the position for all of that time. As a senior Franks threw for 2,766 yards, 35 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

He’s tall, with good arm strength. He can make all the throws and specializes in the deep ball. When he needs to run he can do that as well. As a senior he ran for 245 yards and 8.8 yards per carry average. He’s not a juker, but a long strider that can really motor in the open field.

Trask is an unusual scenario in terms of his path top Florida. He’s actually the backup on his high school team in Manvel, Texas. He sits behind a four-star dual threat prospect that is on his way to TCU on a football scholarship and the head coach opted to go worth the athletic type.

Trask had to earn his scholarship to Florida via camps. He came in June and threw for the Florida staff. They really liked what they saw, so they invited him back for Friday Night Lights in July. After showing off again, Trask was awarded a scholarship offer and committed shortly after the offer.

In three seasons of duty, Trask has played in 29 games, has amassed 1,735 yard, 17 touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Trask is another tall, strong armed prospect that fits the drop back style the staff is looking for. He’s probably less of a runner than Franks is in terms of speed, but he is well put together and should be able to stay up in the pocket if not hit directly.

The bottom line is that there will be competition this spring and fall at the quarterback position. There wasn’t a lot of it and basically none after the suspension of Will Grier. Each of these players is going to have to step up and push to get the job. That is something that is nice to have. 

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