Once healthy, can Florida QB Luke Del Rio win back his starting job?
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s quarterback battle this spring is centered around Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, and for good reason.
They’re the only healthy returning quarterbacks on the Gators roster, and one of them will likely start the season opener against Michigan on Sept. 3. However, these redshirt freshmen will have additional competition in fall camp.
Luke Del Rio, who started six games for the Gators in 2016, is recovering from recent surgeries on both shoulders. His second operation took place Wednesday, on his throwing shoulder. The first came in January to repair his left shoulder.
“He’ll be ready to go” in August, UF coach Jim McElwain said Monday.
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Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has now coached Del Rio for four years dating back to their Alabama days. Nussmeier expects him to be in contention for the job once he’s healthy.
“I do,” Nussmeier said.
Del Rio missed time twice last season because of injures, but he went 5-0 as a starter before a 31-10 loss at Arkansas. He injured his right shoulder in the first half, but played through it and had his worst performance of the season.
Del Rio missed the final five games and finished the season with 1,358 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He played well in the season opener and had a breakout performance against Kentucky.
However, he sprained his left knee in the North Texas game and was never the same.
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“Look at the way Luke played when he was healthy,” Nussmeier said. “He played some really good football when he was healthy. And obviously he got banged up — banged up worse than we thought at the time.
“Getting healthy this offseason and having surgery … we’ll get him back. And I think once he gets healthy, he’ll go back to being the player that he is.”
Whether that player is better than Franks and Trask remains to be seen. However, given their inexperience and a challenging Week 1 opponent in Michigan, Del Rio will get another chance to compete for the starting job.
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