Provancha elevated to backup QB role
Published: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 11:33 p.m.
How bad have Florida's injuries been this season?
A walk-on who was a scout-team receiver last year and fifth on the quarterback depth chart in 2011 is now one snap away from being the starting QB.
His name is Christian Provancha — or Provolone, as Dominique Easley likes to call him.
In his first and possibly only meeting with the media this week, the Cocoa Beach native said he was happy to be there for the team last Saturday at South Carolina.
He was nervous, too.
“It's a little nerve wracking being in front of you guys for the first time. I'm a senior. I'm supposed to be able to handle it,” Provancha said jokingly to reporters.
There isn't much Provancha hasn't been asked to handle during his UF career, including playing piano for teammates during the week of the 2011 Outback Bowl.
“I pick up the guitar more now,” he said.
Over the years, the 6-foot-6, 223-pounder has impersonated quarterbacks such as former Tennessee Volunteer Tyler Bray on the scout team to help Florida's defense in preparation.
“Any tall, white quarterbacks out there, I'm them,” he said.
Provancha describes himself as a drop-back passer, although ESPN described him as “deceptively athletic” coming out of high school.
“I'll throw in a spin move every now and then,” he said.
The Gators moved him to wide receiver in the summer of 2012 because they were low on numbers.
“I guess I scared some people with the roster, a 6-6 receiver,” he said. “But I'm still pretty slow.”
Before Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy suffered injuries this season, his gameday responsibilities were signaling in the play calls from the sideline.
“Just doing a little sign language,” he said.
Now Provancha serves as Skyler Mornhinweg's backup, but he wants that to change soon.
“I want to see Murph out there,” he said. “Everyone hopes to be in the situation where you have opportunity to contribute, but not like this. You want to work your way up the ladder with skill. We've been plagued by injury.”
The only way Provancha wants to play against Georgia Southern is if the Gators are up by a decent amount of points.
“Hopefully that's the way it happens, if it does,” he said.
Provancha appreciates the support he's received from his family this week.
“My dad's done real well,” he said. “You'd think I would be getting a lot of messages from him, but he's done a real good job of keeping it down. Mom's going a little haywire with the texts.”
Provancha's father, Mark, praised his son for being the type of person he is.
“He's a refreshing kid,” he said. “He's fun to be around, kind of comical. He's like that all the time. People need to learn to smile and laugh more, and maybe we would all be better off.
“Christian is a little bit goofy. But I can tell you, when he gets out there, he competes hard. And if he has to go in and play, people will be impressed.”
If his number is called, he'll be ready thanks to advice from Driskel and Murphy.
“They told me once you step on the field, you'll be nervous your first play or two,” he said. “But in practice, you got your boss eight feet behind you screaming in your ear. In the game, you got 90,000 (sets of) eyes — maybe 70,000 this week, I don't know — but that (pressure) goes away.”
Whether he sees the field or not, Provancha called attending Florida a dream come true. He'll graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in environmental science, and he's enjoyed his role with the team.
“I love that position more than most people recognize,” he said. “You get to go against I feel like one of the best defenses in the country and show your stuff. I take a lot of pride when I complete a pass against Vernon Hargreaves (III).”