Peach Bowl journal: Emory Jones ready to compete for Gators’ starting job

"Definitely," the blue-chip quarterback says in his first public comments at UF.
Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) is hit by Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson (7) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) is hit by Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson (7) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Published December 29 2018
Updated December 29 2018

ATLANTA — While No. 10 Florida's blowout win over No. 8 Michigan in the Peach Bowl was a sign of QB Feleipe Franks' growth, there's still no guarantee he'll be the starter next year.

Blue-chip talent Emory Jones said he still expects to compete for the position when spring practice begins in the coming months.

"Oh yeah, definitely," Jones said after the game in his first public comments at UF. "Just because of my mind-set. The offseason, just going in and trying to get better."

Jones appeared in four games during his true freshman season, including the Peach Bowl. He appeared in three meaningful plays in the second quarter, rushing twice for seven total yards. RB Jordan Scarlett ran 13 times on the other snap.

While Jones has primarily been a running threat in his limited action, his biggest progress has been as a passer —in part because coach Dan Mullen refused to let him scramble during some practices.

"I've got to do what he says…" Jones said. "It was just taking away a part of my game so I could get better at other parts."

NFL (non) announcements

A few hours after the game, OT Jawaan Taylor, announced his intention to leave early for the NFL draft. He is projected to be an early-round pick.

A handful of other Gators are still weighing whether they want to return to school for another year.

Among those who said they were still undecided Saturday: Scarlett, DE Jachai Polite, LB Vosean Joseph and RB Lamical Perine.

"Right dead in the middle," Polite said of which way he's leaning.

If this was Polite's final game and final season, he went out well. The projected first-round pick forced his sixth fumble of the season Saturday, tying Clifford Charlton (1986) for UF's single-season record.

Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft.

RELATED: Matt Baker's takeaways from the Peach Bowl

Burney’s big day

The Gators said this week that DB Amari Burney was poised for big things next season and beyond.

The Calvary Christian product showed why with his best game of the season. Burney broke up a pass late in the second quarter to help slow down a promising Michigan drive. Then he ended a possession for the Wolverines, speeding through on a third-down blitz from the secondary for his first career sack.

Burney will be a candidate to take DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson's starting nickelback spot next season, but UF could also experiment with him elsewhere in the secondary or at linebacker.

Gator bits

UF's 257 rushing yards were their second most ever in a bowl game; the Gators ran for 284 against Georgia Tech in the 1967 Orange Bowl.

Perine finished the season with 826 rushing yards, and Scarlett ran for 776.

They're the first pair of Gators with at least 775 in a season since Elijah Williams and Terry Jackson did so in 1995.

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