GAINESVILLE — No one has said it directly yet, but the Florida quarterback competition coach Dan Mullen insisted was real and open in the spring seems to have been decided.
Feleipe Franks was one of three players the Gators sent to SEC media days. Teams don’t bring their backup quarterbacks to events like that. Franks is carrying himself with a new degree of confidence and seems like an upgraded leader than he was last year as a redshirt sophomore.
Which means that blue-chip redshirt freshman Emory Jones will almost certainly find himself on the bench in the Aug. 24 opener against Miami.
“I’m really trying to find my place on the team,” Jones said Thursday during UF’s media day.
And what might that place on the team be?
“I’d say being the next guy up right now,” Jones said. “If anything happens, I’m ready to step on the field. I feel like these guys trust me. It’s going to be fun to see what happens.”
It will be, because it’s always fascinating to see what happens at that position. Mullen pointed out on media day that some quarterbacks from Jones’ 2018 recruiting class have already transferred (including one at a certain SEC East rival, although Mullen didn’t mention that specifically).
Jones, however, doesn’t seem to have one foot in the transfer portal. He knows where he stands, but he also knows how things could change during camp or during the season.
“That’s just what it is right now,” Jones said. “I’m coming to compete every day, still…It’s a long camp. You never know what can happen. I’m just ready for that time, whenever that time comes.”
Even if Franks remains entrenched as the starter, that doesn’t mean Jones won’t have a role on the field this season. His athleticism and running ability adds a different dimension to the offense. The Gators used him in a specialty package against Georgia and Michigan. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar specialty package for Jones this season.
By seeing the field in those high-profile games, Jones already has some experience in pressure-packed environments that will help him grow.
“I talked to Coach Mullen; he said his reasoning was so I can step on any stage right now and be prepared, be ready,” Jones said. “I’ll never be afraid or anything like that. I’ll be prepared for whatever platform I’m on.”
Whenever he gets that opportunity.