The biggest storyline surrounding Florida’s football team this offseason is a simple one.
Who will be the Gators starting quarterback?
Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks appeared locked in at the position this spring after putting on a strong showing at UF’s Orange and Blue Debut on April 7. However, the recent news of Malik Zaire’s transfer from South Bend to Gainesville puts the situation in murky waters once again.
Coach Jim McElwain attended the 2017 SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday and was asked about the competition under center.
The 55-year-old denied reaching a decision on who would start, stating he’d figured out "a lot of things" at his Montana lake house this summer, but “starting quarterback wasn’t one of them.”
“Who knows?” McElwain said about the position battle. “I’ll know who it’s going to be… when the times comes.”
McElwain’s claim that he hasn’t decided yet between Franks and Zaire contradicts a report from the Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu. Andreu tweeted on Tuesday the third-year coach does know who his quarterback will be, but is “not ready to announce it” at this time.
Regardless of whether he’s already determined who will run the offense or not, McElwain said he is pleased with the depth Zaire adds to the position.
“Competition breeds excellence in whatever you’re doing in life,” he said. “Anytime you’re able to enhance competition, now you’ve got an opportunity to get a little bit better.”
Ivey ready to anchor offensive line
When the Gators kick off the 2017 regular season against Michigan on Sept. 2, Martez Ivey will finally be back at the position he played in high school: left tackle.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Apopka, Florida, native was moved to left guard his freshman year due to a lack of depth on UF’s offensive line.
Two seasons and 20 starts later, Ivey is ready to shift back outside.
The junior made the switch to tackle this spring following the departure of David Sharpe to the NFL draft. He’s continued to work on the position change this summer, and said on Tuesday he once again feels acclimated to protecting the blind side.
“At times it was kind of rough because I was used to playing guard the past two years,” Ivey said. “But I believe now it’s flowing pretty well.”
Ivey and the rest of his linemates figure to make a big impact on UF’s offense this fall. McElwain dubbed the unit the “strength of our football team” on Tuesday afternoon, citing the improvements he’s witnessed at each position.
Redshirt sophomore T.J. McCoy and sophomore Jawaan Taylor appear locked in at the center and right tackle spots, respectively, while junior Fred Johnson, junior Tyler Jordan and redshirt freshman Brett Heggie are the frontrunners for left and right guard.
“We’re at the the point right now where, you know what, it’s time to go,” McElwain said on the offensive line playing a big role in 2017. “It’s time to get this thing going.”
Contact Dylan Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.
Jim McElwain walks by fans before Florida's 32-0 win against North Texas on Sept. 17, 2016, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.