Where Florida's quarterbacks stand with Malik Zaire in the picture
What has been widely speculated all offseason was semi-confirmed on Sunday: Malik Zaire plans to come to Florida.
The Notre Dame transfer quarterback hasn’t announced his decision yet, but a report out of South Bend says that Zaire is telling people he’ll go to Florida if the SEC changes its current graduate transfer policies, something expected to be addressed at this week’s spring meetings in Destin.
If the rule is changed, which many are expecting, all signs point to Zaire joining the Gators for the 2017 season as a graduate transfer. Zaire would be the sixth scholarship quarterback on roster entering fall camp.
What does his transfer mean for the other five?
Luke Del Rio – Technically, Del Rio is the incumbent starter. The journeyman injured his shoulder in the Week 10 loss to Arkansas and did not play the rest of the season. He also sat out this spring after multiple shoulder surgeries.
Del Rio is in an interesting spot, having graduated from UF with two years of remaining eligibility. While the spring competition between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask got all the attention, coaches insisted that Del Rio would still be in the mix for the starting job this fall. However, that was before another veteran quarterback with starting experience joined the team.
Feleipe Franks – The redshirt freshman was established as having the lead in the post-spring quarterback competition, but coach Jim McElwain stopped short of naming Franks the starter. In a way, not much has changed for Franks – he still has to prove himself in fall camp to win the starting job. On the other hand, his competition just got a lot better.
Kyle Trask – Adding Zaire makes it a lot less likely that Trask takes meaningful snaps in 2017. Assuming Franks and Zaire take the starter and backup spots, Trask will likely only get mop-up duty as the third- or fourth-stringer. It’s a tough break for Trask, but not entirely unexpected for a high school backup without any other Power 5 offers.
Kadarius Toney – The 3-star athlete from Eight Mile, Ala. was one of the stars of Florida’s spring game, making plays with his legs. Toney appeared to have found his niche as the Wildcat quarterback on a team of pocket-passers. Zaire, however, changes that as a dual-threat quarterback.
If Zaire is the starter, Toney may no longer be as much of a change of pace. The coaches will almost certainly, however, find a way to get the ball in Toney’s hands even if he’s not lining up under center.
Jake Allen – The St. Thomas Aquinas product is probably the quarterback least affected by Zaire. Allen, a former 3-star pro-style prospect who enrolled in May, has long been considered a likely redshirt candidate to help give Florida some depth for the future.