Florida has lost last six starting QBs to transfers

Quarterback Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators warms up prior to the start of the game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Quarterback Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators warms up prior to the start of the game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Florida QB Treon Harris is transferring, the program confirmed Monday, carrying on an odd trend for the Gators.

As Sports Insights points out, Florida has lost six former starting quarterbacks in a row to transfers: Harris, Will Grier, Skyler Morninwheg, Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and Jacoby Brissett.

Gator head coach Jim McElwain announced last week that Harris would be moving to receiver, so Florida would have started this season with a new starting quarterback anyway.

However, this continues a bizarre trend for Florida. The last Florida starting quarterback to finish his college career with the Gators was John Brantley in 2011. Brantley was also the last quarterback to start every game in a season for Florida. He did so in 2010, Urban Meyer’s final season as Florida’s head coach.

Every quarterback to start a game for Florida since Brantley has moved on to play elsewhere.

Grier was suspended for a year by the NCAA in October 2015 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He transferred to West Virginia in the spring. The Mountaineers hope that he will be eligible to play in 2017.

In January 2015, Driskel elected to leave Florida for Louisiana Tech to play his final collegiate season as a graduate transfer. The Bulldogs went 9-4 last season with Driskel directing their offense. In May 2015, Morninwegh transferred to Columbia as the Gators flirted with Notre Dame graduate transfer Everett Golson.

Murphy transferred to Boston College in January 2014. He started for the Eagles as a graduate transfer, helping to lead them to a 7-6 record.

Brissett was the one who started the trend, transferring to NC State in January 2013. He started the last two seasons for the Wolfpack, going 15-11 as a starter.

The Gators have yet to pick their starter for 2016. Luke Del Rio is a transfer from Oregon State who sat out last season due to transfer rules. Austin Appleby is a graduate transfer from Purdue. Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are highly regarded freshmen. Whomever McElwain picks, he will hope that player brings some stability to the position.

Former Florida starting QB Treon Harris to transfer

Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators scrambles for yardage during the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators scrambles for yardage during the game against the East Carolina Pirates at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Former Florida starting QB Treon Harris will transfer.

The decision comes less than a week after Florida coach Jim McElwain confirmed that Harris would be playing wide receiver for the Gators.

Harris appeared in 12 games at quarterback during his sophomore season in 2015. He threw for 1,676 yards and nine touchdowns, but completed just 119-of-235 pass attempts.

The former four-star prospect’s signature moment as a Gator likely will be guiding Florida’s comeback win against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium in 2014.

Harris’ new destination is not immediately known. He would be eligible to play immediately at the FCS level, but likely would have to sit out the 2016 season if he decides to transfer to a FBS school.

Jim McElwain confirms ex-Gators QB Treon Harris is now playing WR

Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Former Florida starting quarterback Treon Harris has indeed made the move to wide receiver.

Gators coach Jim McElwain confirmed the position change on Ivan Maisel’s ESPN podcast.

“You’ve got to look at the fit,” McElwain said. “Nothing he did. Guys around him didn’t play great either. So I’ll never put that on a player.”

Florida jumped out to a 6-0 start in 2015, but finished the season 4-4 with Treon Harris under center following the suspension of starter Will Grier. Grier transferred to West Virginia after the season.

It was reported in February that Harris would move to wide receiver this year after struggling in McElwain’s offense. Harris was allowed to return to campus last month for team workouts and classes, but hasn’t been fully reinstated from his January suspension for a student code of conduct violation.

Harris missed all of spring football as the Gators went through practice with four new players at quarterback.

“Everybody has freedom, he doesn’t have to stay there,” McElwain said when asked how Harris handled switching positions. “But at the end of the day, look, we’re in this not here to hurt anybody’s feelings. But at the same time, it is what it is and we’ve got four guys who I’m really proud of. The room is really good and I’m excited about it.”

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