Florida’s Trask is not backing down

29
4509
Florida backup quarterback Kyle Trask looks downfield to make a pass in the second half Saturday against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

ICYMI: A Pat Dooley column from July on the Gators’ quarterback.

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.”

Refreshing, eh?

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 pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Kyle Trask is the epitome of committment – he has endured unfortunate hardships and yet he remains 100% committed to the Gator football team, his role and the University of Florida. The Gator Nation is proud of that Kyle is not self-centered – he exhibits maturity and character far beyond his age. I firmly believe he will play this year, and not just a few series of plays. God rewards those who sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and Kyle Trask has done just that. I would love to meet this young man before he leaves UF – God bless!

    • Iowan, I think two other attributes Trask has are competitiveness and humility. Some may think these are conflicting virtues, but this lack of conflict is what makes Kyle special. Barring injury I am not sure how much playing time he will get at UF, but one thing is certain…he WILL be rewarded! I see the potential for a great football coach down the road if that is the path he chooses.

  2. we are lucky to have this guy, i still contend he will have crucial production here both on the field, and in a coach like setting. when a person gives constant intense focus, relentless is what cdm calls it, achievement comes with it. not just in sports but in all human endeavors, this gets results, maybe a little randomness a few times, but that is the winning strategy per the mental skills coach of the new york yankees, and they are showing it.

      • I do. I personally think Trask would be the better choice for backup but do concede that Jones needs the PT. It is hard to wish him onto the field because that means other bad things have happened. I hope everyone remembers that come senior year for Trask. He has earned his shot.

        • Given that he’s from just south of Houston, I don’t doubt that there were several programs he might have gone to and gotten to play……some in the Big-12, some in the AAC or Conference-USA…….but he came to us, had some tough breaks along the way, and still is giving it his all. So you’re absolutely correct, David: He has earned a shot and if not that, at the very least our respect. I’d love to see him back at Florida and on the coaching staff in a few years.

  3. Many well said posts here lauding Kyle Trask and his dedication to the team.

    I am impressed with his academic pursuit of science and management, graduating in August and entering his Master’s program. Trask epitomizes the term student/athlete.

    Who knows? Maybe a pro team will give him a shot as an unsigned free agent, no matter what transpires this fall with the Gators.

  4. I’ve always liked Trask and it doesn’t surprise me that he feels this way. I fully expect him to be a solid contributor at some point this year. I also would not be shocked to see him on some NFL roster when his UF days are done. He’s got NFL size and believe you me-some NFL scout has eyes on him. If that noodle-armed dude from Boise St (Kellen Moore) is still in the league I’m certain Kyle can stick with a club. Still can’t convince me Moore is better than Tebow. Anyway-I digress. Good luck this season, Kyle. GEAUXXX GATORS!!

  5. Always been a big fan of Trask. This article points out much of the reasons why. Especially when you had Franks making mocking gestures to fans in the stands, etc., etc. And I still say he was the best performing QB in the O&B games, but the new coaching staff were enamored by Franks big frame and strong arm, just like Mac was. He reminds me a lot of the character and determination that Wuerfel and Tebow had. Except with a much better arm. Unfortunately he’s been a little less durable, given the injuries. But sounds like he’s been working hard on fixing that issue. Not sure why he’s behind Jones on depth chart, but would love to see him get a couple series early this fall. Go Gators!

    • Agreed. When I saw the headline I didn’t immediately recognize it as an old article, but should have since there were already 24 posts. I miss the days when an SEC game for the Gators would generate 75 or more posts per article. These days, most articles struggle to get 20 posts.

  6. He probably could’ve asked for a chance, since it seems that he’s been the best passer on the roster for nearly his entire Gator career. I suppose the one benefit of being the back-up behind a QB that’s asked to run so many times in a game is that, sooner or later, you’re likely to become the starter because of an injury. Hope CDM tweaks the O to play to Trask’s strength, which is clearly his arm and his ability to see the field and deliver the ball quicker, and with more accuracy, than our other QB’s.

    • Joe, CDM already did that with Chris Leak by having Tim Tebow do most of the QB running. He has Jones ready to play the Tebow role, just less power, more speed.

      Trask would have gotten his break after the Mizzou game last season, but for his fragile feet. He should have gotten more meaningful playing time this season BEFORE Franks’ injury thrust him into the starting role… on the road… in the 4th quarter… down by 11! But, as alum84 rightly points out above, these coaches “fell in love with Franks’ strong arm and big frame.” Too bad they weren’t able to speed up his slow brain when it came to making decisions after plays began, no matter how many plays he got… while Trask and Jones sat… against UT freakin Martin!!!

      • Good point with the Leak/Tebow comparison, StL. Do we dare give Urban any credit for that adjustment, though? My only concern is whether Jones can throw the ball well enough to keep the D from sitting on a QB run every time he enters the game. Then again, I’m sure CDM has thought of that, too.

        The idea that the coaches “fell in love with Franks’ strong arm and big frame” is part of my distaste for the spread offense. They’d rather have a QB that can run and take a beating than one that can throw. Running your QB 10-15 times a game exposes him to a much greater risk of injury, and CDM is starting to get bit by that bug. I personally don’t think Franks’ running ability was helping the offense as much as his slow reads in the passing game was hurting it. As long as you have good RB’s, I’d much rather have the better passer run the offense. I think it’s great to have a mobile QB who can buy time in the pocket and escape when necessary, but I’m not a fan of running QB’s who don’t throw well.

        Agree with you about getting Trask and Jones some PT against UTM. Fortunately, Trask was ready anyway.