Thursday, April 26, 2018
Colleges

Florida starter under center still under wraps

GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

So wide open, coach Jim McElwain said, that he didn't have a frontrunner among Malik Zaire, Feleipe Franks and Luke Del Rio heading into Friday night's scrimmage.

"It's tough to say," McElwain said.

McElwain insists that uncertainty is a good thing; it means all three have shown enough in preseason camp to be viable options.

The quarterbacks said they aren't sure where they stand in the pecking order, and they're trying not to worry about when McElwain makes his announcement.

"We play in two weeks," Del Rio said, "so hopefully it comes before then."

RELATED: The Florida Gators' case for QB Luke Del Rio.

Delaying the decision could have its advantages. It counteracts the gamesmanship by a secretive Wolverines team that hasn't even released a 2017 roster on its website, and it forces Jim Harbaugh to prepare for multiple quarterbacks with varying styles of play.

While McElwain named Del Rio the 2016 starter a year ago Friday, he has taken his time in other years. Will Grier and Treon Harris both played in the first two games of 2015, and McElwain's 2013 Colorado State team listed three quarterbacks atop its depth chart the week of its opener.

But that plan also has its drawbacks as the team tries to move forward.

"I've been in this situation for the last five years, and I know that having all these options at quarterback is not always the best thing for the team," Zaire said. "And it would be nice, obviously, to be the guy. But at the end of the day, you've just got to continue to do whatever it takes to help this team be the best."

Daquon Green emerging: UF knew the size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and talent of WR Daquon Green when he was a four-star recruit at Tampa Bay Tech. But what has impressed teammates and coaches so far is his maturity and knowledge. Those factors, plus his physical tools, allowed him to work with the first-team offense this week and should make him a candidate to contribute as a true freshman on offense and special teams.

"Daquon does a really good job at paying attention to detail and not making the same mistake twice," Del Rio said. "I think that's big."

Suspended seven: McElwain clarified that the seven suspended players — including standout WR Antonio Callaway — will not be with the team until their matters are resolved, even if that extends beyond the Michigan game.

The Gainesville Police Department confirmed that on Thursday it had opened a criminal investigation into DL Jordan Smith. The website The Read Optional reported that Smith paid his rent with a stolen credit card.

"Well, him and the rest of the guys still aren't with us until anything's resolved," McElwain said. "Until it's resolved, that's the way it is."

RELATED: Florida Gators suspend Antonio Callaway, six others for opener.

Audible: "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." — Del Rio on outside criticism about his arm strength

Miscellany: Former Gators and Bucs S Ahmad Black has joined the program as a student coach while he finishes his degree.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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