Given the portal fever that has seemingly enveloped the sport over the past year or so, this post is a stark reminder of how, at least in this instance, perseverance and staying put can actually end up working out in a player’s favor.
In ending its one-game losing streak to Kentucky in Week 3, Florida’s starting quarterback, Feleipe Franks, went down with a dislocated ankle and will miss the remainder of the 2019 season. In steps redshirt junior Kyle Trask, who will get the start this Saturday as No. 9 Florida plays host to rival Tennessee in The Swamp.
What makes Trask’s start unique is that, as relayed by ESPN.com in an exceptional piece by Sam Kahn Jr., this will mark Trask’s first start since he was a freshman in high school. Yes, a Power Five quarterback at a Top 25 school who hasn’t started a game since the ninth grade will get the nod this weekend.
So, how exactly did his career play out in such an odd way?
Trask went to high school in Manvel, Tex., which annually produces loads of Div. 1 football talent. In the same class as Trask was D’Eriq King, who set the Class 6A record for career touchdown passes with 140 and is now a record-breaking quarterback at Houston.
“When I got there, I was the eighth quarterback on the depth chart,” King, recalling his freshman season, told Khan. “[Trask] was No. 3. Out of those eight quarterbacks, six of them transferred and he’s the [other] one that stayed.”
When he was confronted by his high school head coach about rumors that he was considering transferring to get playing time elsewhere, Trask took exception to the talk.
But he grew up in Manvel. Went to elementary school and junior high there. It’s where he wanted to be. Once, when Kirk Martin heard a rumor that Trask might consider transferring, he brought him into his office.
Trask politely replied, “I was born and raised in Manvel, Texas. As long as you’re going to let me compete for the starting job, I’m not going anywhere. If D’Eriq King is better than me, he’s gonna have to prove it.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Trask was a three-star signee for the Gators… while Franks was a four-star signee in that same class. After taking a redshirt his true freshman season — Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio were the main Gators under center that season — a foot injury sidelined him for the entire 2017 campaign. In November of last year, it appeared Trask would get the opportunity to replace a struggling Franks… until he broke his foot in practice and was sidelined for the remainder of that season as well.
As was the case in high school, Trask stayed true to his commitment to the Gators in a season-ending meeting with head coach Dan Mullen.
The most important question Mullen had, with graduation on the horizon for Trask and Franks having a strong end to the season, was, “Where’s your head at?”
“You know you’re going to get reps and get a chance to compete,” Mullen said. “If it doesn’t work out, is this where you want to be?”
In the era of the transfer portal, it’s vital information, particularly for those who are eligible for a graduate transfer. Trask never wavered.
“I’m 100% a Florida Gator,” he said.
Now, seven years and two schools later, Trask is being rewarded for his patience and commitment to the ones that got him here.