Luke Del Rio not assuming anything in Gators’ QB competition, despite Spurrier endorsement

Florida Gators quarterbacks Austin Appleby (12) and Luke Del Rio (14) are competing for the starting job this camp. (TIm Casey/UAA Communications)
Florida Gators quarterbacks Austin Appleby (12) and Luke Del Rio (14) are competing for the starting job this camp. (TIm Casey/UAA Communications)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Luke Del Rio, the leader in Florida’s open quarterback competition entering preseason camp, heard along with everyone else last week the strong endorsement he received from former Gators coach and newly minted ambassador/consultant Steve Spurrier.

And he was no doubt ready for the inevitable question Wednesday at the Gators’ media day on the eve of the team’s first practice.

“That kind of blew up,” Del Rio said playfully of Spurrier’s comments. “I appreciate the insight, but it’s still an open competition.”

In talking with reporters last Friday about returning to his alma mater, Spurrier made headlines by inadvertently declaring Del Rio the Gators’ new starting quarterback.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have yet to make the same declaration, though, and didn’t offer anything new Wednesday while saying they want to see how the team’s offensive players feed off both Del Rio and Austin Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, during camp.

“We’ll make the decision when we’re ready to make the decision and when we think the timing’s right,” Nussmeier said. “I don’t think you can sit here today and say it’s this day or that day.”

Said McElwain: “I really believe, to play successful football at the quarterback position, the people around you, A, have to believe; and B, they have got to trust in everything you’re doing; and C, their play is elevated based on how you go about playing the position. …

“So I’ll see how the guys respond to them when they are in the huddle, when they are into the situations that we, you know, set up during practice. That really is kind of, to me, the key to success at the position.”

Pressed for any further commitment to Del Rio’s grip on the job, McElwain wasn’t biting.

“Has anything ever changed here?” he joked, keeping whatever deeper opinions he has to himself.

So the competition continues as the Gators look to find stability at quarterback. They’ve struggled to find any such stability since Will Grier’s season ended with a suspension for a positive PED test, and Treon Harris was inconsistent in replacing him. Both Grier and Harris have since transferred out of the program.

Del Rio, meanwhile, is about as well traveled as a redshirt sophomore can be.

The son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, he spent the 2013 season at Alabama as a walk-on, before joining Oregon State in 2014 and then sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after arriving at Florida. But he had that year to absorb the Gators offense

On Wednesday, he thought back to the circuitous path that has brought him to this opportunity now.

“It was tough. It definitely was, going to three different schools,” he said. “I basically went to Alabama because it was a dream of mine. I wanted to play for Coach [Nick] Saban, I wanted to play with the best in the country, they were the national champions at the time. It was a mixture of things [causing me to leave] Alabama, and then at Oregon State it was pretty much strictly coaching staff changes. But I couldn’t be happier to be here.”

Del Rio recounted how he was told during spring practice in 2015, after Oregon State head coach Mike Riley had left for Nebraska and a new staff had taken over, that he was not part of the Beavers’ future.

“It was a Tuesday, it was like 6:50 in the morning when they told me and I still had to go practice because it was during spring practice. It hurt a lot,” he said. “I asked them, ‘So you want me to transfer?’ And they basically said, ‘Look, we’re not telling you to do anything; we’re just telling you you won’t play here. …

“Alabama was more complicated, but Oregon State was very difficult. I had a good thing going, I was settled, but once again, I’m happy to be here.”

Del Rio said McElwain had recruited him “very hard” when he was the head coach at Colorado State. He didn’t want to play in the altitude of Colorado, though.

Instead, they find themselves together now in Gainesville trying to jumpstart an offense that averaged just 12.8 points over the final six games of last season.

Del Rio has only thrown 18 passes in college — all in 2014 with Oregon State — but he’s had that extra year in the program to get up to speed with the offense here. Now he has this preseason camp to finally prove whether he’s indeed the best option.

“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I can really only control what I can control. I feel if I play to the best of my ability then I’ll have a good shot at winning the job.”

As for Appleby, he said he had far easier paths to playing time when he decided to leave Purdue for his final year of eligibility.

He started 11 games and played in 17 over three seasons with the Boilermakers, passing for 2,777 career yards, 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Appleby said he had about two weeks to find a new home in-between getting his release from Purdue and a recruiting dead period, but that was enough time to drum up considerable interest — including several schools that could have offered him a better guarantee of playing time.

“There was a number of them. People in this conference, people in MAC-level conferences, all the way in between, but for me, I want to be the very best I can be,” Appleby said. “And Coach Mac, Coach Nuss, these teammates, for me there was something about this place that I couldn’t pass it up. …

“It didn’t take long for me to be 100 percent sold on what the Gators were offering and what a special thing we have brewing here and how I can be a part of that.”

While Del Rio exited the spring as the leader in the quarterback competition, Appleby says he’s had the best summer of his collegiate career. He said he has come a long way in terms of his understanding of the offense and his chemistry with the receivers.

“I have a world of confidence. I had one of my best summers I’ve ever had since becoming a college football player, really taking the opportunity to learn and develop my plan within the plan — not just understanding the plays, but understanding why we’re calling them, what we’re trying to accomplish, who runs it the best, where do my eyes need to be …,” he said.

“Those were things I was a little behind in the spring time, trying to catch up. I didn’t even know where to run from drill to drill in practice. Now I’ve got my feet under me, I understand what we’re trying to accomplish as an offense, I understand the coaches and I can just go be an extension of them and affect my teammates in positive ways.

“I’m right where I need to be. I couldn’t be more confident.”

Between those two options, Nussmeier said he feels good about the depth the Gators have this year at such a crucial position.

“Obviously as we came out of spring, we talked about Luke had a slight edge, and we’re going to let them compete and see where we end up,” he said.

And eventually somebody on the current coaching staff will make a declaration as to who will actually get the first shot at the job.

QB Jake Allen thriving as bond, chemistry with Gators coaches grows

Jake Allen, a 4-star quarterback from Fort Lauderdale. (Special to the AJC)
Jake Allen, a 4-star quarterback from Fort Lauderdale. (Special to the AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s important for a quarterback and his position coach to be on the same page.

Florida commit Jake Allen has developed that kind of rapport with Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier over the past year. Allen, who pledged to UF last summer, worked with Nussmeier and Florida coach Jim McElwain at this past weekend’s Friday Night Lights event.

“The more time I have around Coach Nuss and Coach Mac, the better I get,” said Allen, a product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I was just throwing for them and having a good time. It was fun.”

The chemistry between Allen and Nussmeier is evident when they work together, and that relationship exists off the field, as well.

“He’s an awesome guy,” Allen said. “I love hanging around him. I’m comfortable. I don’t have to put on a different persona. I can just be myself.

“He can relate to the quarterback. He used to play it and he knows the position. It’s good to have a coach like that.”

Nussmeier photobombed Allen at the conclusion of Friday Night Lights, and their fun began as soon as the camp started.

“Nuss was talking some trash to me,” Allen said. “We were doing the first drill when you have to throw it through the net, and he told me I couldn’t do it. He goes, ‘Jake, don’t throw it to the ground.’ It was funny. But of course I made it.”

The nation’s No. 10 pro-style quarterback also recruited some offensive skill players during his trip, such as 4-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and 4-star running back Adarius Lemons, who committed to Florida on Monday. Allen threw a long touchdown pass to Jeudy after he shook a cornerback to the ground on a juke move that went viral.

“You have to find little niches in their recruitment,” Allen said when asked how he approaches other prospects. “Everyone has something that they want to hear and they want to have in a college. So you have to find that out and keep stressing it.

“It’s not easy going to random guys and talking to them. But I like doing that and I enjoy it.”

Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite. 

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Recruiting: Gators land Florida’s No. 1 RB, Adarius Lemons

Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)
Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s recruiting momentum continued Sunday with another verbal commitment for the Gators.

Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla., flipped from North Carolina to UF. He attended Friday Night Lights and told SEC Country the Gators were pushing for his No. 1 spot.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound prospect is ranked the No. 1 running back in the state of Florida, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Florida now has 12 members in its 2017 class following the additions of Lemons and linebacker James Houston this weekend.

Gators commits and fans got #Lemons2TheSwamp trending on Twitter Sunday, and the UF coaching staff celebrated the news with lemon tweets.

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

N.J. recruit Artur Sitkowski wows at Florida’s QB camp

Artur Sitkowski, a 2018 quarterback from Old Bridge, N.J. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)
Artur Sitkowski, a 2018 quarterback from Old Bridge, N.J. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida held its Next Level QB Camp on Thursday in the indoor practice facility.

UF coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier had several high-profile quarterback trainers on hand, including Elite 11 coach George Whitfield, Jr.

Gators commit Jake Allen won’t throw until Friday, which allowed 2018 quarterback Artur Sitkowski (Old Bridge, N.J.) to steal the show. He was the top performer among the campers Thursday.

“I learned so much from these coaches today,” Sitkowski said afterward. “Coach Nuss, coach McElwain, coach Whitfield — the staff they assembled for this camp was second to none. It’s an incredible experience.”

Sitkowski is ranked the No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 71 overall recruit in the Class of 2018. He told SEC Country he wanted to camp at Florida because of the QB track records of McElwain and Nussmeier.

“It’s the Florida Gators,” Sitkowski said. “Coach McElwain has had a lot of success coaching quarterbacks, and so has coach Nuss. So just the attraction of SEC football, big-time quarterback play, that’s probably the two biggest reasons why.”

Sitkowski already holds offers from more than a dozen schools, including Michigan, Ohio State and South Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound passer probably could have landed a UF offer without camping, but he wanted to earn it.

“My parents instilled in me at a young age that you have to work hard for things in life,” Sitkowski said. “If something is given to you in life, it’s not worth it. I’m going against the best quarterbacks in the country out here. There’s some elite arms out here throwing, so I’m just competing and trying to earn that offer.”

The Gators will likely pull the trigger following his impressive workout, and they could become a major player in his recruitment.

“It would be huge for me,” Sitkowski said of the potential offer. “Florida is a state that I have family in. My aunt and grandmother live (in Tampa). My aunt is a season ticket holder. She’s a Gator fan, so I have a little soft spot for the Gators.

“She’s pulling for the Gators (in recruiting). She wants to see me more often. She tells me I look good in blue and orange.”

The 4-star quarterback attended Florida’s regular season finale against rival Florida State in 2013.

“That was insane,” Sitkowski said of the gameday atmosphere. “I can really see myself going to class here, being a student here, playing football here at the University of Florida. This is one of the few schools I can actually see myself at.”

Sitkowski said North Carolina, Ohio State and South Carolina are the schools sticking out to him right now, but he likes the idea of playing in the SEC.

“It is the best conference,” said Sitkowski, who plans to make his decision next spring. “On Saturday night, who’s playing? SEC teams. Alabama, Florida, South Carolina. They get all that exposure. A lot of players that get drafted come out of the SEC.”

Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite. 

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Florida’s Lamical Perine validated by senior season after lack of offers, respect

Lamical Perine (left) and his mother with Perine's award for Alabama Class 7A running back of the year. (Photo courtesy of Perine)
Lamical Perine (left) and his mother with Perine’s award for Alabama Class 7A running back of the year. (Photo courtesy of Perine)

THEODORE, Ala. — Following his junior season, Lamical Perine expected his offer sheet and recruiting rankings to increase.

Neither happened.

The 3-star tailback out of Theodore High School rushed for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014, but that production basically went unnoticed by college coaches and recruiting services.

“It was frustrating,” Perine said. “I felt like I didn’t get the looks I deserved.”

One SEC program, however, set its sight on Perine in the spring of 2015. Florida coach Jim McElwain and running backs coach Tim Skipper offered him on May 28, and he committed the following day.

“It felt good to have a big school like that come after me, regardless of my rating,” Perine said. “It just showed me they really cared about me. Stars didn’t matter to them. They saw how much talent I had.”

But after his pledge, Perine didn’t receive the bump in rankings that typically happens when a prospect commits to a school such as Florida. He carried his 3-star rating into his senior season.

“It definitely bothered me,” Perine said. “I thought about it every day, actually. I know recruiting analysts can’t evaluate every kid, but I figured my Florida commitment would get me noticed and it didn’t. People kept doubting me.”

Lamical Perine established himself as Alabama’s best running back recruit in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Perine)
Lamical Perine established himself as Alabama’s best running back recruit in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Perine)

That fueled Perine as a senior, and he went on to rush for 1,654 yards and 15 touchdowns that fall. Ten games into his season, he got a called from Alabama coach Nick Saban.

“He wanted to offer me because I was playing so well,” Perine said. “He told me I had gotten faster and stronger since my junior year. Coach (Burton) Burns had been at my game that week to check me out, and I guess he decided to pull the trigger after watching me.”

The offer served as validation for Perine. In his state, you’re not a big-time recruit unless Saban wants you.

“I was very excited to have the offer,” Perine said. “There’s not too many running backs from this state that can say they got an offer from them because they recruit nationally.

“There’s nothing better than being in Alabama and saying you got an offer from the Crimson Tide. It’s the in-state school and you get a chance to play at home, but I wanted to try something different and go to Florida.”

Perine put one final stamp on his senior season when he was named the Class 7A running back of the year in Alabama. His team plays in the highest classification of high school football in the state.

“That was an amazing honor,” Perine said. “My mom enjoyed seeing me receive the award. To be labeled as the best back in Alabama, it felt good to finally get recognized.

“You know, I didn’t feel like I was getting respect throughout most of my recruitment. That’s all I really wanted. By the end of my senior season, I got all the respect I needed.”

Perine ultimately ended up with a 4-star rating from ESPN and Rivals. But regardless of where the recruiting services have him, Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is excited to add the 5-foot-11, 211-pound prospect to his backfield.

“Big, physical back,” Nussmeier said of Perine on signing day. “Has great instincts, vision, balance and body control. You go into that state and get the state back of the year, we’re eally, really excited about him. Great addition to our team.

“He runs behind his pads, does a great job in the open field, he has great balance and body control. Just really, really excited. Going into Alabama and get the No. 1 back in the state, he’s just another weapon that’s going to help us score points.”

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow @ZachAbolverdi

THE NEXT UP SERIES

Doug Nussmeier says Luke Del Rio ‘a little bit ahead’ in Gators quarterback competition

Gators offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier spoke about the quarterback situation. (UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey)
Gators offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier spoke about the quarterback situation. (UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey)

The Gators’ quarterback competition has attracted a lot of attention this offseason.

Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio — who was ineligible to play for the Gators last season due to NCAA transfer rules — is competing with Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby, and freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask to be Florida’s starting quarterback this year.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier had some stuff to say to the Palm Beach Post on the Gators’ quarterback battle before speaking to the Palm Beach County Gator Club on Tuesday night. Continue reading “Doug Nussmeier says Luke Del Rio ‘a little bit ahead’ in Gators quarterback competition”

Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has ‘unfinished business’ at Florida

Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey)
Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey)

When Southern Miss approached Doug Nussmeier about its open head coaching job in January, he listened.

“Obviously, you get an opportunity to be a head coach, you got to listen,” Nussmeier said to the Palm Beach Post before speaking to the Palm Beach County Gator Club on Tuesday night. Continue reading “Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has ‘unfinished business’ at Florida”

Gators coaches checking out in-state spring games

Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (UAA Communications photo by Jay Metz)
Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier (UAA Communications photo by Jay Metz)

A handful of Florida coaches were checking out some of the Gators’ top in-state targets Thursday night.

UF offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon II were in Tampa for Florida commit Daquon Green (Tampa Bay Tech) and a pair of 2018 teammates from Armwood High School (Seffner, Fla.), wide receiver Warren Thompson and running back Brian Snead.

Running backs coach Tim Skipper and secondary coach Torrian Gray attended Jacksonville Trinity Christian’s spring game to watch Ohio State cornerback commit Shaun Wade, 2018 cornerback Tyreke Johnson and 2018 safety Chamarri Conner, who earned an offer from Michigan on Tuesday.

Defensive line coach Chris Rumph went to see defensive end Zachary Carter of Hillsborough High School in Tampa. Carter told SEC Country two weeks ago the Gators will be tough to beat. Earlier Thursday, Rumph was in Largo to visit Pinellas Park defensive tackle Jordon Scott.

Offensive line coach Mike Summers paid a visit Thursday to Pensacola offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, an Alabama commit.

Former backup QB Kyle Trask could become first-rate talent for Florida

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (right) with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. (UAA Communications)
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (right) with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. (UAA Communications)

HOUSTON — Every football fan knows the old adage that the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on a team.

But that hasn’t been the case at Manvel High School near Houston.

The team’s No. 2 signal caller, Kyle Trask, might be a backup once again in 2016, but that role would hold much more significance.

Trask, a two-star recruit, enrolled early at UF in January with fans and media members still wondering how he even had a scholarship offer.

To their disbelief, Trask was the story of the spring. The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder proved to be the most natural passer of Florida’s four new quarterbacks, and surprisingly, he may not redshirt as a true freshman.

How things got to this point is as head-scratching as his commitment to the Gators last summer. But Trask’s emergence at Florida, first as a prospect in camp and then during spring football, came as no shock to his high school coach, Kirk Martin.

“One day they’ll do a 30 for 30 on Kyle Trask and talk about what a dumb butt his high school coach was for not starting him,” Martin said. “I’ll be the guy that cut Michael Jordan. I can own that. But I’m telling you, that’s how good this kid can be.”

Trask played three years behind fellow 2016 classmate D’Eriq King, a Houston signee and one-time TCU commit.

The Elite 11 semifinalist threw for nearly 6,000 yards and 90 total touchdown passes as a junior and senior. The dual-threat quarterback also accounted for 20 scores and 1,426 yards on the ground in that same span.

The Mavericks averaged 55.7 points per game last season and scored 70 or more six times. If you want to know why Trask didn’t start, there’s your sign.

“Everybody talks about Kyle being a backup, I never viewed him that way,” Martin said. “D’Eriq was just so electric with the ball in his hands that it was hard to take him out. We run a wide-open spread offense with a lot of zone reads and quarterback runs that Kyle couldn’t do.

“He’s truly a pro-style quarterback. He can run now, but he’s not a 4.4 guy like D’Eriq. He’s one of the fastest track athletes in Texas. So he was just best for what we do.”

With an offensive system not suited for his skills and playing time hard to come by, transferring could have been beneficial for Trask. He was recruited by other schools to make the switch after his sophomore season but decided against it.

Under eligibility rules of the UIL (University Interscholastic League), prep football players in the state of Texas can be forced to sit out a year if they transfer to another high school for athletic reasons. But a potential penalty is not the primary reason Trask chose to stay at Manvel.

“I still remember the day he came into my office to tell me,” Martin said. “He goes, ‘Coach, I was born and raised in Manvel and I’m not going anywhere. If you allow me the opportunity to compete for the job, I’m staying right here. If D’Eriq is better than me, he has to prove it. I’m not going to run from competition.’

“He never was the full-time starter but he always played. He didn’t jump ship. In this day and age, if you got a competition, as soon as you pick a starter the other kid leaves. We as a society tell them just go somewhere else, there’s a better situation over here. Well, the grass isn’t always greener.”

Martin said he promised Trask and his family he would give him quality minutes and get his film to college coaches. He did both.

“I tried to play Kyle the third series of every game and then the seventh series, regardless of the score,” Martin said, debunking the notion that Trask’s impressive film consists of mop-up duty. “His strongest attribute is his arm and I wanted to showcase that, but I don’t believe in running the score up when you’re beating somebody. I wanted him to have enough film with the first-team offense because I knew he could play.”

In his last two seasons, Trask threw for 1,545 yards (759, 786) and 16 total touchdowns. His career completion rate was 73 percent, and he threw zero interceptions in three years at the varsity level.

“Division I recruiters came to see him,” Martin said, “and I told all of them, ‘If you’re a pro-style team, I guarantee he can come play for you. Here’s what will happen. He’ll beat out whatever big-name guy you bring on campus. He’ll win the job, be a multiyear starter and go on to play in the NFL.’

“Most coaches laughed it off and said there’s no way they could offer a kid that’s a backup. Well, just figure that out for a minute. He’s backing up a kid that was the Houston area player of the year, better than every other quarterback in this huge city. All those other guys were getting offers, but they would have been his backup, too.”

After some selling by Martin, a few coaches decided to give Trask a look. One of them was Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

“I reached out to Nuss and told him they had to come check out this kid,” Martin said. “He sent the area recruiter through here first and he was like, ‘Whoa.’ So then Nuss came. I put Kyle on the opposite hash throwing 22-yard comebacks. That’s NFL stuff and he was fire-shooting them out of his arm.”

Nussmeier then brought in Trask for a summer camp session last June. He again tried to find flaws in his game, but Trask’s fundamentals and skills showed up in person like they did on his tape.

“Every time you tried to say, ‘Well, I’m not sure,’ he did something that said you are sure,” Nussmeier said. “If you just turned on the film when he played in the games and looked at his production, it’s pretty darn good now.

“You look at the decision making, you look at the size, arm strength, accuracy, and you say, ‘What box aren’t you checking, what are we missing here?’ ”

What transpired in the weeks following that camp may be a first for college football recruiting. A couple small schools were recruiting Trask by that time, but a Power Five program offering a backup quarterback seemed like quite a stretch and probably never had happened before.

Nussmeier, however, was sold on Trask after evaluating him twice.

“Right after the camp,” Martin said, “Nuss called and goes, ‘Kirk, he lit it up.’ He said it was unbelievable, that he was the best guy there. He was ready to offer him.”

Kyle Trask (left) with Gators coach Jim McElwain after camping at UF.
Kyle Trask (left) with Gators coach Jim McElwain after camping at UF.

But UF coach Jim McElwain wasn’t. Not yet.

Still on the fence about it, Martin said McElwain needed to see how Trask stacked up and competed against elite quarterbacks. He also wanted to put him under pressure in a loud atmosphere with fans watching, unlike the camp setting.

So Trask flew back to Gainesville by himself for Friday Night Lights, Florida’s annual recruiting showcase that draws hundreds of top recruits to The Swamp.

“As soon as the event was over,” Martin said, “Nuss calls me and goes, ‘Kirk, he freakin’ lit it up again man!’ They offered him and I started jumping up and down in my house. I was so happy and excited for Kyle. That’s the kind of stage he belongs on.”

It didn’t take long for Trask to show that in the spring. Gators cornerback Jalen Tabor, a projected first-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft, has experienced Trask’s talent first-hand.

“I love Trask. Pretty ball. He has the prettiest ball,” Tabor said. “Can you still step up in the pocket and deliver a ball to help your team win? That’s the only question I have for him.

“But as far as just the eye test, the kid is big and he can throw. I tried to bait him into one play in the scrimmage and he baited me. He threw it right over my head, I’m like, ‘Oh, I thought I had it.’ But he put it right on a dime. He can definitely drop dimes.”

Trask had a promising performance in the spring game, completing four of his seven pass attempts for 67 yards. Few expected him to outplay fellow freshman Feleipe Franks, an Elite 11 finalist who threw three interceptions, but Trask’s production only confirmed Florida’s summer evaluations.

“We beat Houston Baptist, or somebody on this guy?” McElwain said of Trask. “It goes back to what we expected. Are we surprised the way Kyle has played? No. We saw those things when he kept coming back to camp, putting him in situations.

“I mean, that’s the beauty of getting guys to camp because you’re able to kind of see how they react in different environments. He’s a guy that answered all the questions.”

More questions remain for Trask, such as how he’ll perform in a game or handle his shot at the starting job, if and when it eventually comes. Martin has no doubt it will.

“Kyle Trask is there to stay,” he said. “He’s going to stay the course and he’ll start at the University of Florida. I believe it with my whole heart. I literally told Nussmeier that.

“The really great thing about Nuss and that staff is they trusted their eyes. They didn’t worry about a star rating. They looked and saw the kid can flat-out play. You watch, Kyle Trask will light it up in the NFL and everyone will be going, ‘Man, how did we miss on that guy?’ ”

Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to speak at Palm Beach County Gator Club event

Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will speak in Palm Beach County on May 24. (UAA Communications photo by Jay Metz)
Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will speak in Palm Beach County on May 24. (UAA Communications photo by Jay Metz)

Have questions about the Gators’ offense? After the way last season ended, you probably should.

Well, the Palm Beach County Gator Club is hosting Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier at Lafayette’s in West Palm Beach’s CityPlace on May 24. Continue reading “Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to speak at Palm Beach County Gator Club event”