Recently, Malik Zaire transferred to the Florida Gators for the 2017 season. The senior formally of Notre Dame has no intention of being a backup quarterback or contending for a starting job. He comes in to Gainesville expecting to start immediately when the Gators take the field on September 2 in Dallas against Michigan.
Of the Gators current quarterbacks on the roster, Zaire has the most experience. He played a two-quarterback role at Notre Dame, with Everett Golson and DeShone Kizer. Though he suffered an injury in 2014, Zaire did not refrain from continuing his battle to be the starter for the Irish. After the 2015 season went unsettled, he decided to transfer to Florida to lead a team as the starter for the entire season. That is his number one goal heading into 2017.
Florida does have Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, and Luke Del Rio on the roster at quarterback along with Zaire. Franks and Trask are both freshman, and Del Rio is recovering from an injury that he suffered in 2016. The Gators are unsure if Del Rio will be a full go once the season starts.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has had a history with dual-threat quarterbacks. If he can get Zaire on the right track through fall camp and help him learn the playbook before the first game, then the Gators should be all set. But not so fast. Though Zaire is the quarterback everyone wants to see come in and start right away, is it the right choice?
Inserting Zaire into an opening game after just transferring may be the correct decision for the Gators. Does Jim McElwain really want to start a freshman that is inexperienced? Malik Zaire is the quarterback that Florida has been awaiting for. Here’s why:
Malik Zaire is the Answer for Florida
Zaire has the experience
Being at Notre Dame for three seasons and getting some reps under his belt gave him the starting experience he needed to come into Gainesville and take away the starting job. But just having experience doesn’t necessarily just hand Zaire the job.
He gives the Gators a better chance to win
Zaire not only can throw the ball, but he can also run with it when needed. He can avoid pressure from opposing defenses and get out of the pocket and gain yards to help his team reach the endzone and pick up first downs. Though Franks can do this as well, he is unproven unlike Zaire. Malik has seen the college atmosphere and knows the ropes of a college offense. Florida needs an experienced quarterback at the helm to have a shot at reaching the SEC Championship for the third straight year.
All in all, Zaire is the way to go for the Gators. To not start him in Week 1 would be a disaster. He brings everything to the table, and deserves to start and help the Gators to an SEC East title and perhaps an SEC Championship.
The quarterback battle between Zaire and Franks will be interesting to watch as we near the 2017 college football season.