GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Dan Mullen has not said whether he’d be interested in pursuing a graduate transfer quarterback. He has not met with reporters since the news last week that redshirt freshman QB Jake Allen intends to transfer.
But the Gators will at least have to do their due diligence and survey the market.
Florida fans are maybe wary of taking on another grad transfer at the position after the results with Austin Appleby and Malik Zaire the last two seasons, but Mullen and his coaching staff are probably more wary about entering a season with only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Look no further than the Gators’ 2017 season when Kyle Trask, albeit the No. 4 QB at the time, was lost for the season because of a foot injury, Luke Del Rio broke his collarbone halfway through his lone start and Zaire went down with a left knee injury in his second start late in the fall.
That’s how easily a team can lose three scholarship quarterbacks during a season.
In a more extreme example, the Maryland Terrapins lost four quarterbacks to injury in 2012 and ended up starting a freshman linebacker at QB the rest of the season.
Florida will have the roster space to add a grad transfer QB, and if for no other reason than depth and insurance, it would make sense to do so.
The first name Gators fans gravitate to in this conversation is Ohio State junior Joe Burrow, who may transfer if he does not win the starting job with the Buckeyes. No decision has been made yet, and even if he were to transfer, there would be other logical suitors for Burrow, who was a 4-star prospect and the No. 8 dual-threat QB in the 2015 recruiting class (according to the 247Sports composite).
With Florida’s persistent uncertainty at the position, Burrow no doubt would be an intriguing addition and a viable contender to step right in and compete for the starting job, given his profile, two years of remaining eligibility and his experience under Mullen’s mentor Urban Meyer.
But what are the other potential fits on the grad transfer market? Well, the list is dwindling.
According to the handy Grad Transfer Tracker, 17 eligible quarterbacks already have found new homes.
Dual-threat QBs Brandon Dawkins (Arizona to Indiana) and Jalan McClendon (N.C. State to Baylor) would have been intriguing additions for the Gators, while Wilton Speight, who announced two weeks ago he was transferring from Michigan to UCLA, wouldn’t have made as much sense.
So, what’s left? Nobody with the upside of Burrow, that’s for sure, but the Gators could fill their depth needs from this list.
- Tucker Israel was a 3-star dual-threat QB in the Class of 2015 from Orlando, Fla. He announced during the winter that he is transferring from Clemson after graduation. He attempted 4 passes with the Tigers, but he will be a junior with two years of eligibility left. Given his Florida roots and mobility, he might make some sense for the Gators.
- Ryan Boyle, a 3-star dual-threat QB from the 2015 recruiting class, is leaving Iowa with two seasons of immediate eligibility left. A prolific state championship-winning high school QB in Iowa, Boyle never progressed up the depth chart with the Hawkeyes. He, too, could provide depth for the Gators, if he doesn’t pursue a smaller program offering a better shot at playing time.
- Former Florida State reserve QB J.J. Cosentino is available after completing 15 of 30 passes for 104 yards and 2 TDs with the Seminoles. While he spent the last few years in Tallahassee, he is from Pittsburgh. He never pushed for the starting job at Florida State and would merely be a depth option, if an option at all.
- Jacob Park, who started his college career at Georgia, is transferring from Iowa State, where he passed for 1,181 yards, 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in four games last season. In moving to a third program, though, he’d surely be looking for a clear path to immediate playing time, and he may not be a fit at Florida as a pro-style QB.
- Chris Chugunov, who is leaving West Virginia, passed for 536 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions playing behind former Gators QB Will Grier last fall. He has one year of eligibility left, and like Park is a pro-style QB and probably intent on finding immediate playing time.
- Jeff George Jr. is leaving Illinois, where he passed for 1,273 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last fall. If he is a consideration at all for Florida, it strictly would be as a depth addition.
It will be interesting to see what Mullen does in light of Allen’s departure, but if the Gators can’t find an intriguing enough option, there is always Kadarius Toney.
He and fellow former high school QB-turned-receiver Dre Massey were emergency quarterbacks for the Gators last season and could serve in that capacity if needed.