Two weeks into preseason camp, at least one aspect of Florida’s quarterback competition is becoming clear.
It appears it is now down to a three-man race among Feleipe Franks, Luke Del Rio and Malik Zaire. The three have been sharing reps in practice with the No. 1 offense and they were scheduled to share playing time in the Gators’ first fall scrimmage Friday night.
UF coach Jim McElwain said he probably will have a better idea where the competition stands based on the performance of the three quarterbacks in the scrimmage.
“There should be some answers, I think, and yet, I don’t know that,” McElwain said. “If I had a crystal ball I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. You and I would be at track together probably every day, right?
“(We’ll be) putting them in some situations maybe they haven’t been as good at. But we’ll find out in The Swamp.”
McElwain reiterated there is no timetable for naming a starter.
“I don’t know that there’s an ideal (time),” he said. “You know, we’ll find out.”
McElwain said the level of competition between the quarterbacks has exceeded his expectations thus far. His said the presence of Zaire, the graduate transfer from Notre Dame, has been a factor.
“Yeah, actually (the level of competition has been) a little bit more than I was expecting,” he said. “I think with Malik coming in has really elevated both Feleipe and Luke. I see a real drive to get those reps.
“More than anything, what I’ve seen is the importance, the singular importance, of each rep no matter what the drill is. Those guys are competing at everything, whether it’s routes on air to end of game and two-minute. It’s been really good.”
Franks and fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask battled for the starting role in the spring, with Franks pulling ahead late in drills and finishing on top of the depth chart heading into the offseason.
The dynamic at the position has changed dramatically since then, with the addition of Zaire and the return Del Rio, the former starter who underwent surgery on both shoulders following the 2016 season.
The battle for the starting role now seems to be down to three — Franks, Del Rio and Zaire.
McElwain said the confidence Franks gained over the course of the spring has only grown in camp.
“It’s way higher than it was,” McElwain said. “And like I said, going back to that elevation of the competition, I’ve really seen those guys say, ‘You know what, I’ve got to go.’ ”
Outside linebacker Vosean Joseph said the competition between the three quarterbacks has been intense — and productive.
“Man, the quarterback battle is crazy,” he said. “I don’t know who’s going to start. Everybody out there is throwing touchdowns left and right. They’re doing all types of crazy stuff at practice. All the quarterbacks are looking nice.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.