The assumption around Gainesville is that Emory Jones will start for the Florida Gators this fall. But he won’t be the only quarterback to take snaps early this season.
“I always want to have multiple guys ready,” coach Dan Mullen said Monday. “We’ll play multiple guys early in the season, whoever the starter is, just so that guys are ready to play, like we always do.”
With Kyle Trask headed to the NFL, Jones is the heir apparent. The former four-star recruit has played in 24 games through his first three seasons, either in a change-of-pace role or as a garbage-time backup. He has 92 career carries for 514 yards and six touchdowns and has thrown for 613 yards and seven scores.
Jones got his first snaps in the first game of his freshman season (a blowout win over Charleston Southern) and in the second game of his second season (a rout of Tennessee-Martin). Opening against Florida Atlantic and USF will give UF more opportunities for valuable game reps, if those contests become lopsided.
Mullen almost certainly won’t name a starter this spring; he, like most coaches, wants to encourage competition at every position, including quarterback. For Jones, that competition comes from Anthony Richardson, a four-star Gainesville native who played in three games last season.
“He’s played in SEC games out on the field,” Mullen said.
Mullen and the Gators are using this spring to get a better handle on what Jones, Richardson and the other quarterbacks can do before whittling the playbook down to whatever suits their strengths best. It’s a process that, apparently, will continue into the season.