What you should know about new Florida Gators QB Austin Appleby
Florida's 2016 quarterback competition got a lot more interesting Monday night when Austin Appleby announced his intention to transfer from Purdue and enroll as a grad student at UF. The move will make him eligible immediately and able to battle Treon Harris, Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio and incoming freshmen Feleipe Franks (four-star recruit) and Kyle Trask (three stars) for the starting job. The Gators have not yet officially announced the move.
Here are a few things you should know about Appleby:
* He can take care of the ball. Or that's what Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell told The Lafayette Journal & Courier when he named Appleby the starter in August: "He did a good job, in my opinion, of taking care of the ball throughout fall camp. That's what we asked him to do."
UF coach Jim McElwain will probably ask Appleby to do the same thing. Here's what McElwain said about choosing a starting quarterback before the season: "To play the position, the number one most important thing is ball security and taking care of the football."
* Appleby's career at Purdue was fine. Not good. Not bad. Just fine, especially considering the Boilers' recent struggles. He threw 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He completed 57.5 percent of his passes in 2015 (80th nationally) while increasing his yards per attempt (from 5.3 to 6.1). His rating jumped, too, from 101.7 to 113.6. He lost the starting job in September, thanks in part to a four-interception loss to Marshall.
* He looks like a quarterback. Appleby is listed at 6-foot-5, 239 pounds. McElwain has said that he doesn't have a mold for how his quarterbacks should look; he spent so much time coaching at the Division I-AA level that he learned how to adapt to whatever size and skills his best option had. But look at McElwain's recent starting quarterbacks:
Alabama's John Parker Wilson (6-2, 211)
Alabama's Greg McElroy (6-3, 225)
Alabama's AJ McCarron (6-4, 214)
Colorado State's Garrett Grayson (6-2, 213)
Colorado State's M.J. McPeek (6-4, 236)
Colorado State's Conner Smith (6-5, 220)
Florida's Will Grier (6-2, 201)
Florida's Treon Harris (5-11, 195
Notice a theme? Only one is under 6-foot-2: Harris. I don't mean this to be an indictment of Harris - only a suggestion that Appleby's size seems to be a better fit with McElwain's history. Del Rio, if you're wondering, is 6-foot-1, 216 pounds.
* Graduate transfers are tricky. Some work. Alabama is competing for a national championship thanks to one (Jake Coker). But Coker's old school (Florida State) ended up benching its own grad transfer, former Notre Dame standout Everett Golson, by November. I wrote about the complexities of being a grad transfer quarterback during the preseason.