Kyle Trask had just been through a workout and slapped on his backpack after a quick shower. It would be another typical day for the quarterback in what has not been your typical college football career.
If there was ever a perfect candidate for the NCAA transfer portal it is Trask, a young man who can’t catch a break unless it has been to one of his feet.
Instead, he is still at Florida with plans to graduate in August and pursue a master’s degree in science and management.
“We had our meetings, and they still want me,” Trask said. “I told them I’m all in. I know the whole portal is the thing to do now, but that’s not really me.”
Ah, the dreaded transfer portal, the bane of all coaches dealing with roster management. Not playing? Go to the portal, where the grass always looks so green even if it can sometimes be a mirage.
At last count, 410 players have entered the portal since the end of last season. A lot of them are still looking for places to land. Some of them — like quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields — are expected to have major impacts on the college football landscape.
Some of them may find themselves without a scholarship or stuck at a small school that was never their intention.
Sometimes, that green grass has big brown patches.
But for Trask, it was not something he considered.
“There’s no reason to leave with the greatest coaching staff in the country and a great university,” Trask said. “Nothing against those guys, but it’s something that’s not in my character.
“I don’t see any reason to leave. It’s just how I was raised. I’m not going to back down from the challenge.”
Trask came to Florida from Manvel, Texas, given a scholarship by Jim McElwain even though he was the backup to current Houston quarterback D’Eriq King in high school, because the Florida coaches saw a 6-foot-5, 230-pound kid who could spin it when he was in camp here.
The bad breaks came early. He competed with Feleipe Franks for the starting job in 2017, but suffered a broken foot during warm-ups before the Michigan game in Arlington, Texas. Had he remained healthy, there’s a pretty good chance he’d have found the field given the struggles Franks had early and the injuries that derailed Luke Del Rio. Florida eventually went to Malik Zaire, and let’s just say that didn’t work out.
Those who were allowed to watch practice before that 2017 season raved about Trask. And throughout that miserable season, we couldn’t help but wonder what he might have been able to do if given the chance.
I mean, it couldn’t have been much worse, right?
He had a chance again the week after the Missouri game last year when Dan Mullen declared the quarterback competition open. But this time he suffered a broken left foot during a Wednesday practice and another season was down the drain.
“It was just really unfortunate,” he said. “I just made a cut and it popped.
They were telling me to stay calm. I was so mad, honestly. I remembered my right foot, walking around and it just doesn’t feel right. I had that same feeling on the left one. So I knew.”
It was the same exact injury — broken fifth metatarsal — just on the other foot.
“I’ve had some bad luck, I guess,” he said. “Things happen and you just have to kind of roll with the punches. It was a really tough time for me, but I had a great family to support me and get through it and a great family here to help me get through it.
“In the end, it’s only going to make me a stronger person with all of the struggles. It is what it is. You can’t change the past. You have to keep moving forward.”
Still, even when he had a nice spring game (11-of-16, 209 yards and two touchdown passes), you couldn’t help but wonder if he would do what nine other Gators have done since the end of last season and jump feet first into the portal.
Instead, he got help from a foot specialist at UF Health and kept working at getting better.
“He progressed nicely throughout the spring,” Mullen said. “He got off to a slow start because of the foot, but he had a solid spring.”
With Franks and Emory Jones still ahead of him on the depth chart, there’s no telling if Trask will be able to add to his 22 career pass attempts. Certainly, there are no expectations that he will live his dream and run out on the field as the starting quarterback this season and nobody would wish bad things for the other two quarterbacks.
But there’s something about Kyle Trask that makes you want to root for the young man.
“I’m still getting bigger, faster, stronger in the weight room,” he said. “I have great teammates, great coaches, a great university. What more could I ask for?”
What more indeed?
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.