Experience returning at quarterback position


Senior Jeff Driskel was the clear No. 1 going into last season and will be the heavy favorite to eventually lock down the starting job. But he’s still recovering from a broken lower leg and his status for the spring is uncertain.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11:54 p.m.

Bowl games are considered a reward for a successful college football season. What they really are is a primer for the next season, with all those extra practices playing a role in player development.

Unfortunately for Florida, there will be no bowl experience this year coming off the school’s first losing season since 1979. So, getting ready for the 2014 season is on hold until the spring.

But the Gators’ inactivity in December doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to 2014 and projecting how the Gators might look at each position. This is the first of a 12-part series:

Quarterback

Who’s gone: Walk-on senior Christian Provancha.

Who’s back: Senior Jeff Driskel, senior Tyler Murphy, redshirt sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg.

Who’s new: Redshirt freshman Max Staver and true freshman Will Grier, who will be an early enrollee.

What’s next: With a new offensive coordinator coming on board in a few weeks and supposedly bringing a new, uptempo offense, the competition for the starting role at quarterback will be wide open. Driskel, of course, was the clear No. 1 going into last season and will be the heavy favorite to eventually lock down the starting job. But he’s still recovering from a broken lower leg and his status for the spring is uncertain. If he misses significant time in the spring, he could find himself behind one or two guys at the start of preseason camp in August. This is a position that had zero playing experience behind Driskel going into last season. Now, the Gators have three quarterbacks who have started three games or more, so overall, the position appears much stronger and deeper than it did a few months ago. Even though Driskel, Murphy and Mornhinweg are now considered veterans, don’t rule out the young guys pushing for significant playing time — or even contending for the starting role considering the open competition under a new coordinator. Staver has excellent size and a strong arm. He impressed the coaches in August and during the season with his ability to make all the throws. He’s also pretty athletic. Perhaps the quarterback who excites the fan base the most is Grier, the true freshman who will start classes in January and will be competing in the spring. He’s one of the nation’s elite quarterback prospects, a guy who has a big-time arm and also has the ability to make plays with his legs. In his senior season at Davidson Day School in North Carolina, Grier threw for 4,989 yards and 77 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,252 yards and 13 touchdowns en route to being named the Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Grier will be no different than any of the other quarterbacks in the fact everyone is starting over with a new coordinator and a new offense. The best man wins the job.

The skinny: This position is much deeper and much more experienced than it was heading into the 2013 season. The Gators actually have more than one guy who can play. The addition of Staver and Grier should only heighten the competition at the position. Whether Driskel is ready to go or not, it should be an intriguing spring at the quarterback position.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

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