The 2016 season for the Florida Gators was shaky, in a good term. One of the team’s biggest position controversies was at quarterback. The Gators saw one go down, and one come in and play exceptionally well for the most part. As the season went along, Florida continued to rally behind their quarterback and give him the help he needed to win games. After Luke Del Rio‘s injury, Austin Appleby, the junior transfer from Purdue, stepped in and led the Gators to a second-straight SEC East title.
Head Coach Jim McElwain believed in Appleby the entire way, and kept him as the starter. Now the coach has a tougher task as spring practice nears. Two freshman quarterbacks and one starter spot. So who will start at quarterback? We’ll get to that later. As for now, let’s take a look at how Florida’s quarterback situation from 2016 finished out.
Florida Gators Quarterback Evaluation
Luke Del Rio
Del Rio was injured early last season, but was expected to be the next great quarterback to play in The Swamp. Since he suffered a gruesome injury, Del Rio has been out since early September, but hopes to play in 2017 at some point. He will have a stiff competition should he come back.
Appleby was the transfer from Purdue who came to Florida looking for a better college career. And that’s exactly what he got. In his time with the Gators, Appleby piled up 1,447 yards and completed 127 of his 209 attempted passes. He also threw for 10 touchdowns, but seven interceptions. Not a bad finish to his career, but it could have been slightly better.
Franks is a freshman who will contend for the starting job throughout the spring. Many expect Franks to start with Del Rio still being injured, but only time will tell. Evaluations of Franks have been excellent, as he is a dual-threat guy who can run and throw exceptionally well. If he earns the starting job, i expect the Gators to be in contention for a third-straight SEC East title.
Trask is a guy that has been with the team since last season, but redshirted in 2016. He knows the system well, and can lead the Gators in the right direction. When spring practice kicked off last week, he was taking reps with the first team offense. Should Trask be named the starter, Florida can be in a good spot for valuable wins.
Toney is a newcomer who has had rave reviews ever since he stepped foot on campus. Jim McElwain has high praise for him and expects him to contend heavily for the starting job. Everyone around Florida expects this young quarterback to be one of the next greats for the Gators and think he can earn the starting role. If Toney wins the starting job, I think Florida can go places with him.
I give this quarterback evaluation an A. Though Del Rio went down with an injury, Appleby came in and delivered when he needed to. With him now gone, the Gators will be relying on three newcomers to contend for the starting position. With whichever one earns the starting role, the Gators will be a threat for the College Football Playoff next season.