Longtime backup quarterback is prepared for his opportunity with Florida

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask relieved injured starter Feleipe Franks and rallied the Gators to three fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including his go-ahead, 4-yard scoring run with 4:11 remaining that lifted the Gators to a 29-21 victory Saturday night at Kentucky. [Kevin Schultz/CSM via ZUMA Wire/via AP Images]

Had he followed the new normal in college football, Kyle Trask would not be here now, in Gainesville, getting ready to make his first start at quarterback for the Florida Gators.

No, he would be somewhere else, maybe at a smaller school, maybe somewhere closer to home. Definitely at a school where he would pretty much be guaranteed to start as a graduate transfer.

That’s what college football players, especially quarterbacks, do these days. If they’re not starting, if they’re not seeing much playing time, they toss their name in the NCAA transfer portal and search for another school where they have a better opportunity.

Coming out of last season, Trask seemed an ideal candidate to follow the new normal and leave Florida. He’d been here three years and had seen only mop up duty in just four games. And with Feleipe Franks solidly entrenched as the starter, and Emory Jones being groomed as the future starter, there appeared to be no clear path to playing time, much less starting.

That’s why in the offseason, UF coach Dan Mullen met with Trask and offered to help him get hooked up with another school if, quite understandably, he wanted to leave.

Trask’s response was, well, refreshing. And old school, for sure.

“He’s like, ‘Coach, no, I’m all in, I want to be here, I want to go win the starting job.’ I said, ‘Great,’ ” Mullen said. “My meeting with him was, ‘Do you want to be here? Do we need to help you go somewhere else?’ That’s kind of the in thing in college football.

“It’s, ‘If I’m not playing, how fast can I transfer? If I’m not going to start, I have to be in the transfer portal.’ Kyle’s not that. He’s a graduate from the University of Florida. He’s going to get a master’s degree from the University of Florida. Sees the bigger picture in life. Understands he’s being developed really well here as a quarterback and was waiting for it.”

It, of course, is the opportunity to play. It finally came for the patient and hard-working Trask in the fourth quarter in Lexington last Saturday night. And he made the most of it. Coming off the bench to replace the injured Franks, Trask ignited the Gators’ comeback victory after being down 21-10. Trask completed nine of 13 passes for 126 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a four-yard run with 4:11 to play.

“It was a pretty emotional moment for the whole team (when Franks got hurt), because he’s a great leader for us,” Trask said. “It’s also very hard to see a good friend of yours go down like that. At the end of the day, we

still have a game to win. It’s the next-man-up mentality.

“The coaches do a great job of preparing us for these kind of

moments. This is why we come to Florida, to play in big games like

this. I was trying to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Trask said he wasn’t nervous when he suddenly found himself in the game, having to try and lead his team back. That was reflected in his play: he completed his first four passes and led the Gators to a touchdown on his first possession.

“Once you get in a game, you’re completely locked in, focused,” he said.

His composed and efficient performance has earned him his first career start, which comes Saturday against SEC rival Tennessee. He probably won’t be nervous for this opportunity, either. But he will be prepared.

Trask’s approach all along, even when he knew he probably wouldn’t see the field, has been to prepare himself for every game as if he were the starter. So, that doesn’t change this week now that he is the starter.

“He hasn’t gotten the opportunities he would want, but he just kept taking care of business, being prepared, waiting for his moment,” Mullen said. “It’s, ‘Give me an opportunity. I’ll be ready.’ That says a lot in today’s college football.

“He loves the team, loves the program, has been working really, really hard and was ready for his opportunity when his number was called. That’s kind of a throwback.

“It’s amazing that he had the character and the readiness to go prepare and be ready for that moment, and with all of the decisions he made leading up to that.”

The transfer portal has become a popular destination for players who aren’t starting or playing much, but Trask said he’s never considered putting his name in it. Leaving Florida is not an option that he’s considered. But Mullen did bring up that possibility when they met after last season.

“He was asking me where my head’s at because the portal is a big thing,” Trask said. “I told him I was 100 percent a Gator. I’m going to be ready when my number gets called.

“This is one of the best schools in the country, so I figured why leave when I have a top-10 education, friends I love dearly, a football team that’s very supportive of me. I was just preparing every day as if I was the starter, as I should be. I took advantage of the opportunity I’m given.”

The opportunity is finally here for Trask.

“I kind of just trusted my gut, this whole process,” he said. “I did what I felt

was the best for me, and I felt like all I wanted was an opportunity

to really show what I could really do.”

He made the most of his opportunity in Lexington. He’s teammates seem confident if will be more of the same Saturday in The Swamp.

“He loves his teammates. He loves this program,” senior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “He’s been all in since day one. That’s the biggest thing for us, knowing that he loves where he’s at. Kyle is a guy that just wants to try and help his team win and be a part of something special.

“With the new transfer portal and stuff, guys up and leave and quit. It’s special for Kyle to finally get a chance to get out there and play and make the plays that he needed to and kind of get his name out there and be a big-time guy for our program on Saturday.”


Saturday

Who: Tennessee (1-2, 0-0 SEC) vs. Florida (3-0, 1-0)

When: Noon

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

14 COMMENTS

  1. “I was just preparing every day as if I was the starter, as I should be.” Interesting sentence construction there. Is he saying he was preparing as he should be or that he should be the starter? I’m sure he meant the former, but I suspect the latter was floating around somewhere in the back of his mind. I know it was sure floating through the minds of a lot of Gator fans.

    • I’ll disagree with your suspicion, JS. The quotes from Trask in the articles by Pat and Robbie aren’t a psychological profile by any means of this young man but they do tell us something about his character, and the idea that he was thinking, “I should be the starter” doesn’t square with what’s been relayed. He seems to understand there is no “i” in TEAM. Get well, FF, and Go Gators.

      • I certainly didn’t mean it as a knock on his character, but rather as a compliment to his ability to retain a confident, but humble attitude. I think he should be held up as an example of commitment and perseverance. Hate to see Feleipe hurt, but good to have Trask as next man up. Go Gators!

        • As is the NealyBob way, I shall now weigh in after you’ve settled the disagreement.

          It was a poorly constructed sentance (sentence?) in which not Pearce (Pierce?) but Trask was made to sound like he said something he didn’t say.

          Y’all can thank me later.

          • Truth be told, I was trying to be clever and it backfired. Despite the lack of clarity in the sentence over whether Trask was talking about practice or being the starter, I was sure, given the humility he’s exhibited, that he was talking about practice (take note Allen Iverson). Since I hope to see him exhibit a high level of confidence as well, and I think he does, I thought it was appropriate that the sentence could be taken to mean he should be the starter. Guess I better stick to my day job! GG!JWB!

  2. I have always admired Kyle Trask’s positive attitude, dedication and determination. Now I admire these qualities in him even more. So proud of how the Gators pulled together and pulled out this game. UK was tough last year and tough again this year. The only way you beat a strong, disciplined team like UK is to be even strong and more disciplined. My prayers go out to Franks – the healing process will long and arduous, but I know he is up to the task. GO GATORS – BEAT TENNESSEE!!!

  3. It’s his offense now! Let’s see what Kyle Trask does with that opportunity. With the OL doing so poorly run blocking and so well pass blocking (only 3 sacks allowed in 3 games,) he’ll get plenty of opportunities to create for himself a new image as a starting Power 5 QB.

    • Hey, another article that let me comment!
      Absolutely, This guy is a jewel for UF and the perfect QB for our o-line. I believe he will save our season and elevate where we will end up at the finish of it. When a team is clearly winning a game you get a higher level of play from almost every player. Confidence breeds effort. Trask will enthuse the team with that confidence just like he did in the 4th qtr against UK. As Trask played the confidence level that they were going to win kept increasing! It was clear from the 1st drive that they now had a QB that was playing at another level.

      • Amen to that Daz!

        Let’s hope Mr. Trask has the “secret ingredient” that motivates teams to higher performance in him and that the 4th quarter vs. the Cats wasn’t just a flash in the pan. He has two weeks to get it all sorted out… then… October begins and we’ll get to see who the 2019 Gators REALLY are. GO GATORS!!!

        • Which then logically brings the question, assuming that it wasn’t a “flash in the pan” performance and that Trask truly is the stud many of us have figured him to be……what if he had been brought up by Mullen from jump street?

          Regardless, we’ve needed a Hero Quarterback for a long time by now, and Trask certainly has the personality attributes to fulfill that role.

  4. Trask seems to have what almost if not every quarterback since Tebow has been missing. Leadership and confidence. The other quarterbacks since Tebow just didn’t seem to have enough swagger and fight to go out there and make a play. It seemed that the previous quarterbacks were more worried about making a mistake and locking onto one receiver and one receiver only. Trask reminds me of the qualities of the 1990’s quarterbacks where a receiver will be open, you just have to find which one and time when. Here is to hoping that Trask stays healthy and continues building confidence and focus. The rest of the team needs to look to him for a good example of practicing like you could play any moment and being mentally and emotionally ready to not just play, but to win. Go Gators!