News that Georgia quarterback commitment Jacob Eason will take an official visit to Florida shook the internet and Bulldogs fans alike.
It shouldn’t have. Visiting Florida is absolutely the right thing to do given that former UGA coach Mark Richt was shoved out the door Sunday.
After having the rug pulled from beneath him, Eason, a 5-star quarterback from Lake Stevens High School (Lake Stevens, Wash.), should explore his options. It just happens that Florida is a very good one.
Here are three reasons why Eason should take a long, hard look at signing with the Gators instead of UGA:
Florida is led by an offensive-minded coach who is actually on the payroll
Florida coach Jim McElwain is known for his offensive mind that is steeped in old- and new-school philosophies. He has proven adept at developing an offense suited to his quarterback. McElwain has worked with pocket passers like Greg McElroy, running quarterbacks like Treon Harris and quarterbacks that are somewhere in between, like Will Grier.
Meanwhile, it seems as if UGA is leaning toward hiring Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, a longtime assistant with a defensive background. Despite Smart’s resume, that’s quite a gamble for a quarterback who can sign with any team in the nation.
The Gators can show Eason the danger of defensive-minded coaches during his visit to Gainesville, Fla., by turning to the Ron Zook and Will Muschamp sections of the Florida media guide. Those head coaches had defensive backgrounds, too, and both of their offenses went adrift while they focused on defense and recruiting.
Florida’s starting quarterback job is wide open
With Grier suspended for the first six games of the season because of PED use and Harris limited in the passing game, opportunity awaits.
UGA doesn’t have a bona fide starter either, but it does hold a veteran signal-caller with significant experience. The Bulldogs’ Greyson Lambert started nine game for Virginia in 2014 and all but one contest for UGA in 2015. While his numbers this season don’t stand out (1,844 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions), Lambert has experience at the college level–something that Eason will need to adjust to on the fly.
Lambert has started more games than Grier and Harris combined. The Gators also have a recent commitment from 4-star quarterback Feleipe Franks from Wakulla High School (Crawfordville, Fla.), so competition would be there for Eason, but not at the same level as UGA.
McElwain has chosen to pursue Eason even after a commitment from Franks. If McElwain thought Franks was the easy answer, he never would have invited Eason for an official visit.
Eason placed his trust in the wrong program for him
UGA just fired a coach who had been nothing but a source of pride for the school after winning nine games this season. Nine. Games. Richt could still win 10 games before he is officially ousted. Looking for stability? Perhaps Athens is no longer the place.
If Eason feels betrayed, he has good reason. From the other side of the country, he chose a football program known for tradition, loyalty and stability. Those no longer seem to be priorities at UGA.
It would be a different matter if the Bulldogs had fallen apart after their backbreaking losses to Tennessee and Florida. They didn’t. They won four consecutive games and earned a respectable bowl bid after of their preseason dreams were dashed.
The man who should be commended for that is currently contemplating the next phase of his career.
Eason should take the time to contemplate as well.