HOOVER, Ala. — Florida’s addition of graduate transfer Malik Zaire is one of the biggest storylines at SEC Media Days this year.
ESPN analysts Booger McFarland and Marcus Spears, a pair of former LSU defensive linemen, gave their take on Zaire this week in Hoover.
“What I think is Malik Zaire changes the game,” Spears told SEC Country. “The reason why I believe he changes the game is because a guy doesn’t transfer to come watch other people play. And also, a coach doesn’t accept a transfer that he doesn’t think can help his team right now.
“It may be an indictment on Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, but at that position, you don’t bring in a quarterback and him not have the expectation to play and help the team.”
McFarland, however, does not think highly of Zaire. In an interview ESPN Nashville, McFarland expressed doubts about the kind of impact Zaire could have on the Gators.
“Florida doesn’t know who their quarterback is going to be,” McFarland said. “Don’t tell me Malik Zaire. He couldn’t cut it at Notre Dame. You don’t just let good quarterbacks walk out the door. He’s serviceable, but he’s not a good quarterback.”
Spears believes UF coach Jim McElwain will make the most Zaire’s skill set and predicts the Gators to return to Atlanta for the third straight season.
“Look at Malik when he played at Notre Dame. He had a 65 percent completion rate. That’s an important stat,” Spears said. “You look across the college football landscape, dual-threat quarterbacks make a difference. I don’t what team you’re on, they make you better.
“It’s that much of a difference. It may account for two more wins than you’re really supposed to get. I think that’s a big deal with him coming in and then Jim has had a propensity to get the most out of some guys who didn’t have a tremendous amount of talent. So I think Florida will be fine. I’m actually picking them to win the East.”