Kan Li / Scout

McElwain with early declaration of Del Rio as the Gator starter

It isn’t a surprise that Luke Del Rio was named the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators on Thursday by head coach Jim McElwain, the surprise is that he did it on Thursday. With the second and last major scrimmage of the fall set for Friday, McElwain went ahead and announced the decision.

Luke Del Rio has been the front runner since January; however there is much better competition than expected since that point.

"Luke is going to work as the starter the rest of camp and start in the season opener barring any unforeseen development,'' McElwain said via an announcement on Thursday. “Our other quarterbacks remain in the plans and are ready to move forward and help the Gators any way they can."

Those other quarterbacks include graduate transfer (Purdue) Austin Appleby, and freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask.


Del Rio is by far the most experienced quarterback of the four. With both Treon Harris and Will Grier transferring out, no quarterback on roster has seen snaps for the Gators before, but Del Rio spent a year in the offense as a redshirt and another similar year in the offense as a true freshman at Alabama in 2013.

There really hasn’t been a time that De Rio hasn’t proven he should have the job.

“I think I’ve had a pretty good camp,” Del Rio said last week when interviewed by the Florida media. “I think it’s the best camp I’ve had in my college career. It’s my fourth camp. It makes me feel old. I thought I’ve done a good job of moving on from bad reps or (not having a good) practice and not letting it carry over to the next practice. You get reps and you gain more confidence with every rep you get. You can gain confidence from bad reps, too. I know that doesn’t work, maybe I should try something else. I think that had been a big thing that I’ve tried to focus on.”

By far the biggest advantage is knowing the offense which he was acclimated with when Doug Nussmeier was the offensive coordinator at Alabama and then last year that he spent as a redshirt after transferring from Oregon State.

"I can’t think of just one thing, but the first thing that comes to mind is the experience in the offense,” he said about what separates him from the others. “This will be my third year in the offense including Alabama. Austin’s done a great job of learning the system and the freshmen have done a really good job this camp at putting in the work off the field. Not necessarily with Coach Nuss, but by themselves picking up the nuances of the offense."

The staff no doubt would love to get a big lead in the first few games as to allow Appleby to also enter the games. However, McElwain hasn’t said anything about not playing some form of two quarterbacks anyway. It is believed that Appleby would be the next in line.

McElwain talks more with the media before the scrimmage on Friday and we will be sure to hear more from him then.


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