Published May 18, 2016
NEW YORK (AP) How Florida's quarterbacks lead the team throughout the offseason, when the players are spending most of their time working out without the coaches, will go a long way toward determining who will start for the Gators in September.
Before speaking to a Florida alumni group in Manhattan on Tuesday, Gators coach Jim McElwain told reporters that even though Luke Del Rio came out of spring leading in the four-way quarterback competition, nothing has been decided.
Florida also has graduate transfer Austin Appleby, who made 11 starts in three seasons at Purdue, and two highly touted freshmen in Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. All took part in spring practice.
''That room, in general, it gets me jacked up because we've got legitimate arm talent in all four spots,'' McElwain said. ''Those two freshmen are special. Obviously having Austin Appleby, here's a guy who played in real games in a real league and who knows how to prepare. And Luke, who I've known since he was in eighth grade.''
Del Rio went to Alabama out of high school, where McElwain was once an assistant coach, before spending one year at Oregon State. Del Rio played three games as a backup for the Beavers in 2014. The son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio then transferred to Florida in 2015. He sat out last season to meet NCAA rules.
Being in Gainesville, Florida, longer than any of his competition should help give Del Rio an advantage when it comes to guiding the Gators through the summer.
''I'd say probably Luke was a little ahead coming out of spring and yet to me it's really determined over the summer as how you kind of handle the locker room, the workouts,'' said McElwain, who went 10-4 and won the SEC East in his first season as Gators coach. ''I'm going to know a lot when we get back in the end of the July and kind of see how they are interacting.
''That position in particular to me, it is so important to affect the people around you in a positive way and elevate their play and you usually see that pretty early based on what they do in the summer.''
McElwain said there is no update on the status of suspended players Treon Harris, who played quarterback last season but was expected to move to wide receiver, and receiver Antonio Callaway. Both were suspended by the school in January for violating the school's code of conduct policy.
''Same deal,'' McElwain said. ''We'll kind of bounce with it when it happens.''
Florida plays three straight home games against Massachusetts, Kentucky and North Texas before visiting Tennessee in week four.