Florida quarterback Will Grier announced plans to transfer out of Gainesville yesterday, leaving the future of Florida’s quarterback position looking a bit thinner. Because he was already serving a one-year suspension, the Gators had no other choice but to ride with Treon Harris for the second half of the 2015 season, but will Harris be the guy in 2016?
Harris will get a chance to end the season on a high note against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. A good performance in the bowl game with the extra time to prepare a solid Michigan defense could lead to some momentum heading into the spring practice season. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it is overrated, however in this case it would seem to be a positive if Harris can end the season on an upswing after ending the season two losses to Florida State and Alabama as well as some ugly wins against Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt.
In Florida’s Class of 2016, as currently lined up, the Gators have a commitment from four-star pro-style quarterback Feleipe Franks from Crawfordville, Florida. The second-best pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2016 according to Rivals could get an early shot at competing for the starting job under center with Harris. Harris, of course, will have the benefit of having playing experience at Florida over the past two seasons, including one year under McElwain, but Franks will be the quarterback hand-picked by McElwain and will offer more the style of passer McElwain will prefer to build his offense around, instead of Harris as a dual-threat. An early enrollee, Franks will get a chance to work with the team this spring and make his case for the starting job leading up to the season opener in 2016 against UMass.
If Franks still needs some time to develop and get comfortable in the offense, one other possible contender for the starting job could be Luke Del Rio, the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio who joined the Gators last summer. Previously a walk-on at Alabama in 2013, Del Rio transferred to Oregon State in the spring of 2014. Del Rio then transferred to Florida in the spring of 2015 and was forced to sit out the season due to NCAA transfer rules. That makes him eligible to compete for a job in 2016.
One of the biggest areas of need for improvement on Florida’s roster is at quarterback. Offense has been lagging for Florida in recent years, and McElwain is tasked with improving that while keeping the defense solid. Whoever becomes the Gators starter in 2016, if he can provide a lift on offense and make the Gators at least formidable on offense, Florida could be the top team in the SEC East once again in 2016.