Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks joins seniors Luke Del Rio and Malik Zaire in a quarterback competition at Florida.(
While Michigan has whittled the number of quarterbacks competing for the starting job to two, its opponent in less than two weeks remains unsure of what direction it wants to go.
Florida, who meets the Wolverines Sept. 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, currently has three players vying for the starting quarterback job. And it doesn’t sound like Gators head coach Jim McElwain is any closer to a final decision.
"It’s tough to say," McElwain told reporters on Friday, before Florida participated in a closed-door scrimmage.
"We’ll take a look at the way they handle another opportunity where no one’s on the field. It’s you executing the calls, handling the fastballs, getting guys in right formations, understanding your snap counts, all those types of things."
Here’s a brief look at all three candidates:
Luke Del Rio: The 6-foot-1, 215-pound redshirt junior is on his third college team in four years, and second season at Florida. Del Rio is the son of former NFL linebacker Jack Del Rio and started six games for the Gators in 2016, throwing for 1,358 yards and eight touchdowns. He completed 56.7 percent of his passes, but tossed eight interceptions and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Del Rio is apparently healthy this time around, and certainly holds the advantage when it comes to experience and internal knowledge of the program.
Malik Zaire: A graduate transfer from Notre Dame, the 6-foot, 226-pound Zaire might be the most athletic of the three. He’s short but shown he has the ability to run when required, throwing for 428 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for more than 100 yards in four games as a starter in 2015. Zaire was named Music City Bowl MVP in 2014, when he completed 12-of-15 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown. Feleipe Franks: A 6-foot-6, 238-pound redshirt freshman, Franks possesses the most talent but is also the least experienced. His arm is considered the strongest of the three, but Florida would face a major unknown throwing him into fire so quickly, especially in such a high-profile game against Michigan. Franks threw for 2,766 yards and 35 touchdowns during his senior season of high school, leading Wakulla High to the state championship game and earning an invite to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
No deadline has been set publicly by McElwain, but it’s assumed a decision will have to be made shortly in order to begin preparation for Michigan.
And speaking of the Wolverines, a call is also expected within the next week on whether to ride with Wilton Speight for one more season or try fifth-year senior John O’Korn. At the same time, don’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh makes us all wait for Monday of game week, too.
He’s known to withhold information for as long as possible. Perhaps McElwain is trying to take page out of Harbaugh’s playbook.
Eddie McDoom played in all 13 games in 2016, catching five passes for 59 yards.
Ben Bredeson returns to play left guard on a young and inexperienced Michigan offensive line in 2017.