Adding to the excitement this spring is the addition of true freshman Kadarius Toney, who looks to bring a bit of a dual threat option to the quarterback position for Florida. Redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are the guys that return with knowledge of the offense. Redshirt junior Luke Del Rio will miss the spring recovering from shoulder surgery.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain spoke Thursday on the matter and said he is really interested to see what Toney can do on offense as well as help out the defense when he goes to do scout team work.
“Quarterback competition… with Kyle and Feleipe and giving us a chance to get Kadarius Toney a lot of reps at the position and find out exactly what he can do and see where that fits as we experiment with some of the things moving forward we’re going to do this spring offensively,” McElwain said. “That should be fun. It should be good for a lot of guys that will help us also from a defensive standpoint as we have to defend certain things you’re going to see throughout the year.
The thought of using a dual threat option at quarterback really isn’t new as the staff was looking to add the wrinkle a year ago as well.
"It's something we did a little bit with Austin (Appleby), and yet this gives us a little bit more as we move forward. I mean, we also had those packages in for Dre Massey that we worked on extensively.”
For Franks and Trask this is a big spring. Franks was an injury away from being on the field a year ago and Trask wasn’t far behind. The two should be in a fierce competition this spring and most believe the winner will be the guy that starts in the opener.
For McElwain, the guy that wins the job is going to be the guy that understands all of the parts around him and how they move, as well as the guy that helps those parts move in the right way.
"You know, I think the biggest piece we're looking for first and foremost is somebody to step up and say, ‘You know what, I'm going to take this and I'm going to lead this team and help the parts around me play better’,” McElwain said. “Now with that, it can't be forced -- it's got to be natural. And really the understanding of how and what we need to do is really what we're looking for. As always, every drill is graded, everything that you do there is no such thing as (taking a play off)... whether it's routes on air, the accuracy of the throws and where it needs to be and all those type of things and understanding the importance of every moment means something, take advantage of it."
Franks was the guy that was going to go in the game at the end of last season if Austin Appleby went down with injury. He should probably be considered the front runner, albeit you will never hear McElwain say that, nor does it mean that Trask won’t have every chance to be the guy.
McElwain says he has seen Franks mature a bit into the position since he’s been on campus.
“I think the biggest thing there is just an understanding that it doesn’t happen automatically,” he said. “That there’s a learning curve, and there’s a lot that can be learned from when things don’t go well and how do you deal with that. But more than that, how do I learn from it to get myself out of it to get better? And I’ve seen that from him?”
Franks is the Florida boy that was the all-state quarterback for his team a couple of times and put up a gazillion yards in high school. He has a strong arm, but is a better deep ball passer with a very catchable ball on the deep throws.
Trask didn’t start in high school, but came to camp a couple of times and earned his scholarship that way. He has the laser arm and can make all the throws. He hasn’t been under the fire much because he was always in during mop up duty. How does he respond to that? That is the big question.
Then there is Del Rio, who we won’t see this spring. Del Rio was the starter at the beginning of 216 and multiple injuries really derailed his abilities and he was put back on the field when he shouldn’t have. Those are words from McElwain himself. I personally feel he is much better than he showed when he was put on the field under those circumstances.
One thing about Del Rio, he has been more than helpful with the other quarterbacks.
“Obviously he’s a competitor,” McElwain said of Del Rio. “He wants to play as bad as anybody wants to play, but he also understands he’s got to get healthy to do it. With that, the way he’s been around those young guys and kind of organized some of the things they do on their own, he’s been a big piece of that.”
BOTTOM LINE: Florida needs a fierce competition from Franks and Trask. McElwain also needs one of them to kind of take the reins during the spring. No way will he name a starter following spring, but getting a pecking order would be beneficial as we head into the fall. I also am very curious to see Toney’s ability at quarterback. There are some that watched him a lot in high school that believe he can really be a big time player at the position. That would be a huge bonus for McElwain and company if he were to show that this spring.