There are three bronze statues outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium near the skybox entrance: one for each Heisman Trophy winner at UF. Three statues made to scale, yet somehow larger than life.
This Mount Rushmore of Gators football was erected with private donor money in 2011 and has been beguiling recruits ever since.
After a long and arduous nine years for Florida fans, it’s looking like another quarterback could be joining Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow after all.
Kyle Trask, a non-starter from Manvel, Texas, population 11,535, has been dazzling crowds bigger than his hometown at the Division I level for more than a year. After filling in for Florida’s then-starter Feleipe Franks when he broke his ankle against Kentucky in 2019, Trask secured the starting job and commanded the national spotlight.
His performances against all SEC opponents this season have only turned up the brightness. Trask’s name, already in lights, glows more fervently than before with every program and conference record he claims.
Last week against Georgia, Trask became the first SEC quarterback to throw at least four touchdowns in five consecutive games. This week against Arkansas, Trask threw for six touchdowns, five of which came in the first half. He broke Heisman finalist Tua Tagovailoa’s conference record for touchdown passes through the season’s first six games. With a schedule that included non-conference opponents like Duke, Southern Miss and New Mexico State, Tagovailoa had 27 touchdown passes. Trask has notched 28 against exclusively SEC competition.
That number puts him in good Gators company as well. Saturday night’s performance saw Trask join Wuerffel and Tebow as the only UF quarterbacks to have multiple seasons with 25 touchdown passes.
The only Heisman-winning quarterback in the last 30 years that Trask is chasing in this statistic is Lamar Jackson, who threw and ran for 30 touchdowns in the first six games of his 2016 campaign with the Louisville Cardinals.
“I don’t know if he’s the frontrunner; I don’t get to vote, so,” coach Dan Mullen told the media about Trask’s place in the Heisman Trophy standings. “You can say, I think you have a vote, so if you want to say that, that’s awesome.
“We’ve been around this before. I think he’s a mature kid. The numbers stand.”
In that same vein, Trask (2,171 passing yards) only trails former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer (2,513) in passing yards through six games among Heisman-winning quarterbacks since 1990. Trask even surpassed former LSU quarterback and first overall pick Joe Burrow, who had 2,157 at this point last season.
The Gators’ remaining opponents include Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU. The Commodores are 0-6. The Wildcats are just shy of .500 (3-4), with their only wins from Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi State. The Volunteers are 2-4 and have lost their last three games. And finally, the reigning national champion Tigers are a measly 2-3.
It feels safe to say there’s nothing but smooth sailing left for the Gators until their presumptive SEC Championship game matchup with No. 1 Alabama. These next four games could serve as a fine opportunity for Trask to pad his Heisman resume come the award’s finalists announcement on Dec. 24.
When the final whistle blows and the sun sets on the Gators’ regular season, it might be time for Trask to break out the powder blue suit, jot down a victory speech and fire up his computer to accept the 2020 Heisman Trophy award virtually. But Anthony Richardson, one of Florida’s backup quarterbacks, doesn’t see the point in waiting until then.
“Aye I’m not supposed to be on my phone,” Richardson tweeted at halftime on Saturday. “But somebody tell them to give Kyle (Trask) the Heisman Trophy already!”
Trask, on the other hand, sang the same old tune Saturday night after the game. He’s worried about tallying W’s, not collecting bronze souvenirs.
When asked if he heard the crowd chanting “Trask for Heisman” under the glow of the stadium lights, Trask replied “Uhh, yeah I heard it, obviously. But, you know like I said, we're just focused on winning games here.”
While he might not be paying the numbers or the accolades any mind, the rest of college football, its fans and the media are. His productivity under center dumbfounds them.
The stats speak for themselves, and they say Trask is well on his way to lighting up celebratory cigars with the likes of Joe “Burreaux” and the rest of the Heisman house.
Contact Payton Titus at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @petitus25.