A new coaching staff, a frying pan and an AR-15.
They all showed up in one way or another during the rollercoaster that was the Florida football team’s offseason. In case you were living under a rock and missed out on all that happened this summer, we at alligatorSports decided to compile a list of what went on over the last few months.
Florida’s in yet another quarterback battle
The Gators’ ongoing saga of quarterback uncertainties continued well into this summer as three players are vying for the starting role.
The incumbent, redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks, is looking to keep his starting job over redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask and freshman Emory Jones.
And so far, it’s a near-even race between Franks and Trask.
Both have struggled, as Florida coach Dan Mullen pointed out after the first scrimmage of the fall. But both have also done exceptionally well, with Mullen labeling them as “champions” in his own grading system.
It’s still up in the air as to who will start Week 1 against Charleston Southern, but Mullen made it clear that whoever gets the nod will be the guy he goes with moving forward.
And at Thursday’s press conference, Mullen insisted that it won’t be a last-minute choice.
“We’ll go in to the game week knowing who our starter is going to be for the first game,” he said. “That’s not going to be a game-time decision deal.”
Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes ruled eligible to play
In early August, the NCAA ruled that transfers Trevon Grimes, a former Ohio State wide receiver, and Van Jefferson, a former Ole Miss receiver, were eligible to play without sitting out a year.
For Grimes, that meant he was cleared to play right away. For Jefferson, however, there was one more obstacle to overcome.
The SEC recently lifted a ban on intraconference transfers in the spring, but it still needed to approve Jefferson’s transfer.
Usually transfers to other Division I schools have to sit out a year, but because Ole Miss was hit with multiple NCAA sanctions last year, Jefferson and a few players sought immediate eligibility from the SEC and the NCAA.
On Aug. 13, it was announced that Jefferson will be allowed to play this season. Jefferson and Grimes join a wide receiver unit that includes junior Tyrie Cleveland and sophomore Kadarius Toney.
Kadarius Toney has a gun, and Dan Mullen seems to be okay with it
On July 22, Toney was driving down Gainesville’s SW 1st St in his white Chevrolet Monte Carlo with defensive back Brian Edwards when he was pulled over by Gainesville police for a seatbelt violation.
Officers ended up finding a loaded AR-15 casually sitting in the backseat, which Toney claimed he owned for “protection because of locals.”
A player owning a gun, especially for self-defense reasons, should be alarming to any coach, collegiate or professional. But Mullen, who left a Mississippi State program where players owned crossbows and hunting weapons, seemed accepting of the situation when asked about his gun policy and Toney’s actions. Accepting in the most confusing way possible.
“I have a no-weapons policy, but it’s not like you’re not allowed to own a gun,” he said.
He proceeded to give a rundown of why he thinks players who own weapons need to be properly educated on how to handle them, but the most important takeaway is that he didn’t say he thought Toney owning an AR-15 is wrong.
Malik Davis and Jordan Scarlett are back
The return of running backs Malik Davis and Jordan Scarlett during the offseason gave the Gators’ offense a huge lift in the depth category.
Scarlett spent the 2017 season away from the team as one of nine people suspended in a credit card fraud case, and he was reinstated this spring.
In 2016, Scarlett led the Gators in carries (179), yards (889) and rushing TDs (6).
The 5-11, 206-pounder hasn’t seemed to miss a beat and showed up in the spring in tremendous shape.
Davis was leading the Gators in rushing last season with 526 yards before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Georgia on Oct. 28.
In June, a message was sent out from Davis’ Twitter account indicating that he was cleared to play for the upcoming season.
“All the work in the darkness gone come to light #allcleared U N C A G E D,” the tweet said. Now, 10 months after having reconstructive surgery on the knee, Davis appears fully healthy and is expected to be available on Sept. 1.
Mullen said he doesn’t plan on restricting Davis at all on game day.
“I think the big test is when we had the scrimmage we let him go to see his confidence level ... the confidence in getting tackled, of making a live cut and a live play,” Mullen said.
Redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks is engaged in a competition to retain his role as Florida's starting quarterback.