The Miami Hurricanes aren’t the only team in the state of Florida that’s going through a fierce battle for the starting QB position. There’s an open competition in Gainesville as well with no real front runner at this point. The battle for the Gators gig is between Luke Del Rio, Feleipe Franks and transfer Malike Zaire
This battle actually may be more intriguing than the one that’s taking place in Coral Gables. You have Luke Del Rio, who’s coming off two shoulder surgeries and only played in six games last season. You have Feleipe Franks who looked really sharp in the Spring. Then you have Malike Zaire, who’s a grad transfer from Notre Dame, who many thought would easily win the job, when he decided to transfer to Florida. However a funny thing happened on the way to swamp. The other two QBs decided to make the competition interesting.
For Del Rio, it’s an added wrinkle. This would have been his job if he didn’t suffer the injuries last year. Now with the emergence of Franks and Zaire, he’s just in the mix and is by no ways a front runner to win the job. That said, Del Rio seems confident now that he’s healthy according to Gator Country:
“My arm is 100 percent healthy,” he said. “And I found it pretty ridiculous that fans are saying I had a noodle arm when I was throwing the ball 80 yards in the first game. So, they have the memory of a goldfish I guess. I’ve never had like a ridiculous arm, like Feleipe has a ridiculous arm, but I’ve always had a pretty adequate arm. I’ve been able to make every throw on time. It’s the first time in my life I’ve heard ‘you don’t have a strong arm’. So, whatever.”
Clearly Del Rio is passionate about his health and abilities. He goes further to explain how the process in camp is working out:
“When I was younger, when I was a freshman or sophomore, I would think like that and it’s kind of a negative mindset,” said Del Rio. “You get so caught up in, ‘OK, I got six reps with the ones. He got five. So, does that mean I’m a little bit ahead?’ It’s just incidental. They really take the reps from all 18, 19 practices and whoever is the best, most consistent, performs, made the offense a well-oiled machine, that’s who’s going to start.”
“I think I had a very consistent camp,” he said. “I mean, we are still in camp for one more day, but last year I would have an off day here, an off day there. I thought I have been very consistent throughout camp. People know what to expect when I’m in. Really, consistency.”
You have to give Del Rio credit for being confident at this point after shoulder surgeries derailed his season. Can he win the starting job for the Gators? Clearly he thinks so and there’s only two weeks left until we find out who wins the job, if not earlier.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.