HOOVER, Ala. — The Florida Gators get their turn in the spotlight Tuesday during the spectacle that is SEC Media Days.
That means fans and reporters alike will get further insight from coach Jim McElwain on the prominent and pressing summer story lines as the Gators prepare to open fall camp in a few weeks.
Well, maybe. At least the questions will be asked.
McElwain hasn’t had a formal media session since the end of his spring speaking tour in May, meaning there’s plenty to catch up on with the coach.
Here are the five biggest questions McElwain can expect Tuesday in Hoover.
1. QBs, obviously
McElwain will be asked about his quarterback situation in every interview from now until the season opener (and perhaps beyond).
But this is his first opportunity to answer questions about new addition Malik Zaire, the graduate transfer from Notre Dame who officially joined the Gators last month.
Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks was atop the quarterback depth chart at the end of spring practice, but now he’s facing steep competition from a veteran in Zaire who came to Florida with every expectation of winning of the starting job.
How will McElwain characterize that competition? How does he plan to divide reps in August with a crowded quarterback room? What does he think the mobile Zaire adds to the offense? Where does Luke Del Rio fit into the picture? When does he want to have all of this sorted out?
So yeah, plenty of questions — which is a fitting way to describe the quarterback position at Florida in general the last several years.
McElwain assuredly will dance around the topic and deftly avoid saying anything significantly noteworthy, but he’ll have to say something.
2. Antonio Callaway’s status
McElwain had a chance to address his star wide receiver’s citation for marijuana possession following a traffic stop back in May, expressing his disappointment during one of those spring speaking-tour stops. But he stopped short of specifying whether Antonio Callaway’s status is in jeopardy for the much-anticipated season opener with Michigan.
“We’ll get everything handled” is all he would say at the time.
That “handling” surely will come up again Tuesday as the junior wide receiver has continued to show poor judgment during his time in Gainesville.
3. Is James Robinson still a Gator?
Getting highly-touted wide receiver James Robinson on Florida’s final list of 2017 signees was a challenge in itself. Actually getting him to campus has proven to be another complicated matter, it seems.
Florida has yet to confirm that Robinson is cleared and enrolled at the university, leaving him the only lingering question mark from this recruiting class.
For what it’s worth, the 4-star receiver from Lakeland, Fla., ranked No. 14 nationally at his position in this class by the 247Sports composite, remains listed on the team’s roster, but questions about his status remain as well.
Perhaps McElwain can shed some light on the situation.
4. What is TJ Slaton’s position?
When TJ Slaton officially joined the Gators’ 2017 recruiting haul on National Signing Day, he was viewed as a major get for Florida at a key area of need along the defensive line.
But the roster the team released ahead of SEC Media Days lists Slaton as an offensive lineman.
The 6-foot-4, 349-pound prospect from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was ranked the No. 3 guard nationally in this class. But it seemed clear on National Signing Day that he was coming to Florida as a defensive tackle and that he preferred that position.
Is this merely a typo on the roster, or have the coaches changed their minds about where Slaton best helps the team?
5. LSU on Homecoming
That Florida-LSU rivalry has only continued to gain steam since Hurricane Matthew, the rescheduling aftermath and the Gators’ ultimate game-winning goal-line stand in Baton Rouge, La., last November.
Florida sweeping LSU in the College World Series finals opened more opportunities for the Gators to poke at the Tigers.
And then last week Florida designated its Oct. 7 home game with LSU in The Swamp as its Homecoming game.
Florida’s schedule is stacked with marquee matchups and pivotal SEC showdowns, but the anticipation for that tilt with the Tigers already has begun.
It will be interesting to hear McElwain’s thoughts on the state of that rivalry and hosting the Tigers for Homecoming.