Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports

Del Rio’s history should be beneficial

There is little doubt who the leader of the pack is at quarterback right now for the Florida Gators even if head coach Jim McElwain won’t quite come out and say it. Redshirt sophomore walk-on Luke Del Rio was the leader on day one of spring and did nothing to change what anyone thought of him all the way through his 10-for-11 for 176 yards and two touchdowns performance in the Orange and Blue Debut.

Luke Del Rio really hasn’t played any meaningful football in three years having bounced around from Alabama to Oregon State to Florida and sitting out last season as a transfer. But his history is what makes him unique and a player that the staff can likely lean on.

Del Rio is the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio and has lived his life watching the best players in the world play the game of football. Now, he is able to draw on these experiences.

“Here’s a guy that grew up around the game,” McElwain started last week when asked about his young gun slinger. “He’s been in and out of the locker room, seen practices, and seen guys at the highest level perfecting their craft every single day. I think those are the things that kind of rub off on him just a little bit.”

McElwain has known Del Rio for several years. While Coach Del Rio was in Jacksonville as the head coach, he and his son wandered over to Alabama for a camp experience. McElwain says Del Rio was advanced mentally, even way back then.

“It all goes back to when Luke was in eighth grade and came to camp when I was in Alabama. We actually moved him up. Maybe the ball didn’t get there like it was supposed to, but it got there on time. He understood the mechanics of how to play the position.

“I think we might have been the first to offer him at Colorado State.”

Again, McElwain hasn’t named Del Rio the clear leader, but he understands what the young man brings to the table even without everything he has seen on the field.  

“Everyone is different. He has a really good grasp,” Florida’s second year coach said. “More so having been here a year, he sat through the meetings. It gave him a chance to learn and be around the players. He is a guy that has done great in the locker room with them. From a standpoint of going to work every day they can look at him and see that he is putting in and what he’s backing up.”

Strangely enough, as well as that final scrimmage of the season went, it was a play that didn’t go as planned that really stood out to McElwain and shows the knowledge of the game that he is looking for in his quarterbacks.

“His best play, we had a busted protection and he threw it out of bounds for his one incompletion of the night,” McElwain said. “That was actually the best play he made the whole game. He didn’t take a sack, we were across mid-field, and he understood the importance of what that is and how to do it.”

McElwain is excited about all of his quarterbacks that participated in the spring. He has some lively arms and four guys that are eager to get better and ready to compete.

“The biggest thing right now is the continued development of understanding the system even more so now, going into summer,” he said. “We can’t be there as coaches.  Yet, they can determine what they do to affect the team form a leadership role as they are doing their workouts and throwing on air.

“I am interested in hearing how that next step goes in all those areas.

“I’m really excited about that room. It’s a lot of fun. They are good guys and it is important to them.”


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