GAINESVILLE — When he met with the media early Monday afternoon, Florida QB Jeff Driskel hadn't even had time to inform his mom and dad, but the realization was starting to sink in.
A few hours earlier, coach Will Muschamp told the 19-year-old he had won the tightly-contested starting job over Jacoby Brissett and will start Saturday's SEC opener at Texas A&M. The two battled since last spring for the job and the competition spilled over into the first game.
"Both guys are very deserving," Muschamp said. "Both guys are really good football players. But at the end of the day, I felt like we needed to name a guy and move forward."
"It's been a lifelong dream to be a quarterback at a university like this," said Driskel, a former Maxwell Football Club national high school player of the year. "I'm just excited to really be able to take command of the offense and really (tune) in on what I've got to do, be ready to go to win in Texas A&M."
Muschamp said the decision was based on "the whole process" from spring to this past Saturdays' game, and was not a knee-jerk decision.
"It's nothing Jacoby did not do. Jeff, with his legs, gives us some different variables in our offense that can help us as we move forward," Muschamp said. "So it'll be Jeff's game to play. I told Jeff, 'I don't want you looking over your shoulder but you need to play well.' And know that Jacoby is certainly capable of playing very well for us. Got confidence in both guys. Can win with both guys. Both of them handled it professionally and the way you're supposed to handle it. They've handled this whole competition that way."
Players said they support the decision.
"They are both great quarterbacks," senior WR Frankie Hammond Jr. said. "…It really didn't make a difference (to the offensive players) because they are both great quarterbacks. Whether it was one or the other, you had to pick one, but to me the offense was settled whether it was both of them in the game or not."
Muschamp said he reminded Brissett he's just one snap away from starting.
"Look at our league right now," Muschamp said. "Look at us last year. We went through three quarterbacks at one time. And look at South Carolina right now (injury to starter Connor Shaw). It's one snap away. It's a lot like a lot of other positions. … Jacoby needs to continue doing what he's doing."
FERRIS OUT: Junior long snapper Drew Ferris broke his clavicle Saturday. He will be replaced by redshirt freshman Kyle Crofoot. Four of Crofoot's brothers have been in the SEC as holders, kickers or snappers: John Crofoot is a backup kicker at Florida, Ike was a long snapper at South Carolina (2003-06), Chas was a long snapper at Auburn (2004-05) and Clayton was a holder at Auburn (2008-09).
PATCHAN AILING: OL Matt Patchan (Armwood) will miss his second game this week with a stretched pectoral muscle. It's the latest in a long list of injuries that have hampered him at UF.
"I know he's doing everything he can do to get back,' Muschamp said. "I know that rehab is going well and everything has been very positive on that end, and positive from him. He's further ahead than we thought. We thought originally (he'd be out) four weeks. Now we're kind of edging that back a little bit, so I don't know. Hoping to get him back. I know Matt's frustrated. I'm frustrated for him, because he's worked extremely hard. He had a really good offseason, so I hope it's not that much longer."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]