Talent of UF’s quarterback position group showing through

Kyle Trask
Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask (11) throws during Spring Practice with new head coach Dan Mullen, at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida has not had a consistent, productive and lasting quarterback since Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season. It’s been eight consecutive years of futile QB play, which has resulted in a long spell of offensive ineptitude.

It seems like forever.

So, is this finally the year that the trend will be reversed, and are Dan Mullen and Brian Johnson the coaches to do it?

Johnson, the new quarterbacks coach, seems confident the Gators will find a productive and consistent quarterback between now and September. He just doesn’t know who it’s going to be yet.

“Those guys are talented. They’re putting in the necessary work that it takes to perform at a high level of college football,” he said. “They have the desire to be a great unit and great individual players. They’ve done a good job so far of putting the work in and continually getting better each day.”

Johnson, of course, is talking about Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, Jake Allen and true freshman and early enrollee Emory Jones.

He said he’s confident that one of those four will emerge as THE man at quarterback and play at the high level that’s been missing at the position.

“I am,” he said. “We don’t got nobody else coming through that door, so these are our guys and we’re going to get them ready to go out there and compete at a high level and hold them to the Gator standard. That’s what it’s all about.

“Those guys are eager and willing to learn, and as long as they continue to come out here with that attitude and get better and take steps in the right direction each and every day, we’ll be fine.”

It’s still early, only six practices into the spring, but the leading contender at this point appears to be Franks, last season’s starting quarterback, who experienced some highs but a lot more lows in 2017.

He’s been working mostly with the No. 1 offense this spring, appears to have a good early grasp of the system and has emerged as a leader on the field and in the strength and conditioning program.

“He’s done a good job,” Johnson said. “He’s handled the installs. He’s come in and studied it. He’s done a good job of coming in and taking it from the class to the grass and putting it on the field and is making some plays and getting everybody involved in the offense.

“That’s one of the things you’ve got to be able to do as the quarterback is take what we teach in the meeting rooms, come out here and apply it on the practice field and just be very demanding of yourself each and every rep.”

Like the previous coaching staff, Johnson and Mullen see the size, skill and potential in the redshirt sophomore.

His strong passing arm has been sticking out this spring, but so have other aspects of his game, including the ability to make things happen with his legs and athletic ability.

“He definitely has a fantastic arm,” Johnson said. “He has the ability to make every throw. He’s shown some ability to extend plays and makes some plays off schedule. There have been times I’ve seen him throw the ball 75 yards in the air and put it on the money, and just extending and escaping sacks and finding a way to keep plays alive and making plays down the field.

“Generally, you see guys that are his size with that height … he’s exceptionally athletic to be that long. He has all the physical tools required to play this position at a high level for a long time.”

Franks appears to be the leader for the starting role, but the competition among the four quarterbacks has only just begun.

Franks is being pushed hard by Trask, a redshirt sophomore with a big arm, and the two young quarterbacks, Jones and Allen, a redshirt freshman.

“Those guys, they all have flashed and shown some ability to make some big plays,” Johnson said. “They’re exceptional throwers of the football.”

Johnson said Trask made one of exceptional throws in Monday’s practice.

“He had one today where he threw off a play-action pass and it was a great read, he got to No. 3 in his progression and put it right on the guy in stride for a touchdown,” he said.

“Kyle’s done a great job with the reps that he’s had. He’s making plays. You definitely see the improvement in him from practice one to practice six.”

Jones, who is only 17 years old, is the only true dual-threat quarterback in the group. He’s struggled some with his accuracy, but Johnson said he has a considerable upside and is doing a good job competing with the others.

“He’s done some things that have flashed and shown why he was so coveted as a recruit,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing is just his confidence of coming in and knowing what to do and not being overwhelmed by the level of competition. He’s competed no matter what group he’s going with, whether it’s the ones, the twos or the threes.

“He’s known what to do. He’s been very, very eager in the meeting room as well. So I’m excited to watch his continued development.”

NOTE: Junior wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland missed practice again with a nagging hamstring injury. He’s day-to-day.


  1. Jesus Christ. I think I’m going to vomit if I read another fluff piece about how the qbs or the offense are going to be better this year. Same old bs year after year. What do people think the qb coach is going to say? That the qbs suck and we are going to be horrible on offense again? When has any coach ever said that? Maybe they will be better, maybe they wont. But these type of articles are downright silly. And before anyone does it, save me the crap about how Mullen is somehow a special coach who can miraculously turn this around. He’s a good coach who, if he has the right talent, is capable of winning. He’s no Steve Spurrier.

    • So what would you like to read instead? Or should they just not report on Spring practice at all? Show me any program anywhere where there’s articles being written about how badly everyone’s performing. Give it a rest, or better yet, just don’t read the article cause the rest of us enjoy reading about this stuff.

    • LT, yours is a dumb comment which sure enough shows that you are trying to be more intelligent that you are. Put yourself in the position of any of our QB’s, unlike you sitting in your easy chair thinking about making dumb comments, they are out there working their tails off. Do you think that after they put in their work, they would like to sit down and read that their coaches think that they are a bunch of dumbbells?
      I don’t know you or anything about you, but I would think a true Gator would love to read anything that is positive about the team and quit harping about what’s wrong with the team. It doesn’t cost anything to think positive.





    • Well LT, I’ve been out for 6 weeks and you’re still stirring the pot! Thing is, after not being here day to day for so long, I’ve been able to adjust my perspective a little bit. I think you’re taking Robbie to task more than you’re down on the Gators. Right? In that case, the only thing you’re wrong about is Mullen……he doesn’t need to be another Spurrier. See Jessica Jenkins below for why.

  2. No Spurrier? Proven he is equal to Spurrier?

    Look at Spurriers record in all of his coaching jobs before he went to coach UF. Yes, he did great at Duke, and that says a lot, but it was a much easier division and conference than the SEC West. What Mullen has done is impressive and seems like it could be great training for being a great coach at UF. Only time will tell, but he might end up equalling Spurrier. We all hope so, and it is at least fun to hope and speculate in times like these. Why not be optimistic and have some fun? Everyone knows its all speculation at this point.

    Mullen has proven he is equal to Spurrier? Um… not so fast. When he has won multiple SEC championships and a NC as a head coach, then we can talk about equal.






  3. Most of the article quotes what the coaches are saying, not what the reporter feels. This is what journalism is supposed to be about. Fans have been hoping for a superstar at quarterback since Tebow left. No doubt this is why articles about the quarterback position continue to be written. What else are you going to read about this time of year concerning college football LT?

  4. We’ve seen Franks on the field all year last year and there weren’t a lot of highlights – unless they were the ones for the opposing team. To be fair, he didn’t have much of an O-line in front of him either. He looked like he was 2 seconds away from panicking and running all year. I want to see Trask – see what he can do. I’m thinking he may be able to process the game mentally better than Franks. Hopefully he’ll get a shot. And who knows, Allen or Jones may pull a surprise.

    • I’m not a franks guy when I say this, but the ability to not get hurt has to be part of the equation. Franks, in all candor just keeps going out there and battling…sounds like we don’t have the o line yet to have the team we want, so that doubles down on how much you need a guy that doesn’t get hurt. I still like the 2 qb approach, at least partly, to manage wear and tear, and I am still hoping to see kadarius toney out there t qb.

      There is only one steve spurrier, just in terms of playing, coaching, and representing the gator nation to the world, but come on guys, we are in a different setting now. Mullen is outstanding, and may turn out to be even better, who knows. He is not the problem. Go Gators!

  5. I will believe that Franks is okay when I see him throw to his second or third receiver instead of running for his life because he doesn’t have the smarts to find them and only looks for his first. Doing it on a practice field is one thing, but having the presence of mind and toughness to do it in a game is another. Based upon what I saw last year, I am not betting on him being the starting QB for more than 2 games.

    • Whether you have the smarts or not, you must have an offensive line that can give you some time to process the receiver options. Other than that, I agree with you on everything. Maybe Trask does the mental processing faster and makes better decisions under pressure. Hopefully the coaches will determine that. I’m afraid we have 2 or 3 issues, slow QB decisions, poor offensive line play, and maybe some WR’s that don’t get open very often. That’s why we have anew coaching staff.

  6. They are either making the plays at PRACTICE or they are not. If they are and that is being reported, then the Sun is reporting the truth. If the Sun is making this stuff up, then I agree with the original writer that we should wait and see. I don’t think the Sun is lying, and as a fan , I want to know what is happening at practice since I am not there. So thanks , Sun, for the update. I’ll judge for myself later if we have a QB who can see more than 10 yards in front of him.

  7. I hope the benchmark for success isn’t being equal to it better than Steve Spurrier. That is a recipient for failure. I’m optimistic. Let Dan do it his way and hopefully our games get to be entertaining again with some good wins.

  8. “He has all the physical tools required to play this position at a high level for a long time.” Franks’ physical skills have never been in question. But his innate mental skills as a college QB have been and remain so. If he ever develops the later, Franks has the physical skills to potentially become one of the best college QBs in the country. If he does not develop the later, he has the potential to remain a horrible college QB who everyone will view as what could have been if he had developed mentally on the football field. Sort of like John Brantley and Jeff Driskell.

  9. Good to hear the new staff is positive with the QB group & progress. I think Franks & Trask have the talent to be successful in Coach Mullen’s system. The decision making process going to 2nd or 3rd reads may be where Trask is quicker. Having receivers getting more separation will certainly help both. The OL is my biggest concern. Jake Allen & Emory Jones sound like they’re making a little noise too. Hope all stay healthy this spring. Looking forward to seeing the O&B game & hoping all the QBs get some reps.
    Go Gators!

  10. The only thing Franks or the other quarterbacks ever learned from Captain Yellowteeth was to complain about the fans and insist that only spoiled fans expected an offense ranked in the top 100 in the nation. Now that they have competent coaching for the first time in their college careers, they all have a chance to get better, and they will get better. All the QBs start with a clean slate, and I am very excited for them that they will now be able to achieve the greatness they deserve.

    One thing I am sure of is that Mullen will never be satisfied with a pathetic three and out machine, and he will demand and get more out of these players every single week.

    • Richard – Could not agree more. To expect this team, who now finally have a professional, involved and motivated coaching staff, to perform like last year doesn’t even begin to make sense.

      This is literally a night and day change from the debacle of the last three years.

      We have had quality players. To now be able to properly teach and train them will yield different results – both as a team and yes, individually.

      I for one can’t wait!

  11. “ability to not get hurt” – what does this even mean? LDR took a shot to the knee one year and broke his collar bone the next year… Driskel had his leg snapped… Zaire hurt his knee battling for extra yards… sometimes injuries cannot be avoided. Maybe we finally have some depth if Franks and Trask are developing at a similar pace.

  12. With a less than optimal O line so far, it is imperative that we have a calm, confident QB that is also fleet, accurate and who can read defenses and process quickly. It sounds like Trask checks most of the boxes in these areas so far. He needs to at least split time with the first team offense. Coaches, give him more time with the first team O. This will also put more competitive heat on Franks to step up in his deficit areas.
    Our RB’s also need to urgently step up and get 4-5 yards/play and relieve some of the pressure from the QB. Maybe an RPO offense is in order. Get the TE’s involved more. Emory Jones may not be ready to go fully this year, but he could be a real role player in situations this year the way Tebow was in year 1 as a dual pass/run threat.

  13. It is all going to start at the LOS. If the OL cannot do their job, it will be hard going for any QB! If they do a decent job and the receivers can create some separation then we can get something going. Having a good running game will benefit the passing game. We are loaded in the backfield, but can we block for them? It is too early until we start playing games, but time will tell for sure. Hopefully the coaches have something to help QB’s in being quicker in their decision making process because that is what Franks needs. Again, it all starts at tha LOS! Can we do it? Must recruit better too when it comes to both sides of the 🏈.