Redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio has been named as Florida’s starting quarterback by Gators head coach Jim McElwain.
Arguably the worst-kept secret in the SEC has finally been confirmed by Florida head coach Jim McElwain.
Redshirt sophomore Luke Del Rio has been named the Gators’ starting quarterback heading into the team’s season opener against UMass on Sept. 3 in The Swamp.
“Luke is going to work as the starter the rest of camp and start in the season opener barring any unforeseen development,” McElwain said. “Our other quarterbacks remain in the plans and are ready to move forward and help the Gators any way they can.”
Del Rio, the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, transferred to Florida from Oregon State, a destination he had transferred to after initially walking on at Alabama.
When he joined the Crimson Tide in the 2013 recruiting cycle, Del Rio was the No. 47-ranked quarterback in the nation and a 3-star prospect.
It was in Tuscaloosa where Del Rio first learned about Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s coaching style. Nussmeier served as the Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Del Rio was with the Crimson Tide.
Nussmeier left for Michigan, Del Rio transferred out, and now the two have reunited in Gainesville.
Del Rio believes the work he and the team have put in this past summer helped the offense gel during the offseason.
“It’s definitely something I’ve looked forward to,” Del Rio said of starting for the Gators. “Everybody is more comfortable in the offense. People say that a lot, but it really does matter. [In] summer workouts, we really harped on the passing game.”
Del Rio beat out graduate transfer Austin Appleby and true freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask for the job.
While the redshirt sophomore, who’s listed at 6-foot-1, 211 lbs, may have won the job, it’s important for fans to know what they can expect.
Del Rio doesn’t bring the same big arm Will Grier did. He can’t escape and create with his legs like Treon Harris did. He’s a check-down artist, and he’s a guy capable of taking what the defense gives him without turning the ball over.
And with a defense expected to still be elite, a stable of running backs, and some young talent at wide receiver, that’s exactly what Florida needs right now.
Del Rio will attack the flats and take advantage of sophomore running back Jordan Cronkrite’s ability to catch out of the backfield.
He’ll find junior wide receiver Dre Massey over the middle for opportunities to turn short-yardage situations into long gains after the catch.
And when it comes to sophomore Antonio Callaway, all Del Rio will do is simply put the ball in his general vicinity and let him make plays.
Del Rio will have two years of eligibility remaining after the 2016 season.