Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) points against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida defeated Georgia 24-10.

Don't count out Del Rio

By Robbie Andreu Staff writer
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 8:19 PM

JACKSONVILLE - Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks ended the spring as Florida’s No.1 quarterback and is considered the presumptive starter heading into the season.

But don’t count out the former starter in the upcoming QB competition.

UF coach Jim McElwain said it would be mistake to dismiss Luke Del Rio if he makes a healthy recovery this summer from surgery on both of his shoulders.

“Yeah, for sure (it would be a mistake),” McElwain said Tuesday night before speaking at the Gator Club of Jacksonville. “When you look at when he was healthy last season and the numbers he put up in the first three or four games. Very efficient. Touchdown passes to interceptions ratio was really good. Our productivity in the red area was really good.

“He’s a guy that obviously knows what he’s doing and he’ll be ready to go.”

The question is, when will Del Rio be ready to go? He still has not been cleared to start throwing and there is no timetable for his full return.

“There’s another check-up kind of coming,” McElwain said. “He’s ahead of schedule, I can tell you that from what the normal piece was.

“A lot of that is going to be up to him and what he’s able to handle. We brought him back too early (last season). I’ve said that. He should not have played in that Arkansas game.

“I’m going to make sure he’s 100 percent because he’ll want to get in there and push it too early.”

Del Rio could be a factor if and when he returns, but McElwain reiterated Tuesday night that Franks had a good spring and is the clear No. 1 quarterback at the moment.

“Feleipe is the guy right now,” he said. “We’ll see from there. At the same time, whoever gives us the best opportunity to win a game is going to be the quarterback.

“I thought Feleipe did a really good job throughout the 15 opportunities this spring. I think he established himself in that room a little bit. Kyle (Trask) is back (from minor knee surgery) and is not throwing 100 percent yet. He’s fine. I’m excited about what Kadarius (Toney) brings to the offense. And Luke Del Rio is still there.”

As for the overall spring, McElwain said it was a successful one for the Gators on the field and in the classroom. He said 31 players had a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher for the semester.

“We did well,” he said. “I know the classes they’re in where the student population comes into the University of Florida with like a 10.9 grade-point average or whatever the heck it is.

“But we did well. We didn’t have any (academic) casualties. Obviously, there are some guys you wish would do better. At the same time, they will all be checking into fall camp when we start.”

McElwain said the remaining incoming freshmen who will report for Summer B also appear to be in solid shape academically.

“As of right now, I think everybody is on track (to qualify academically),” he said. “You never know. We’ll know for sure when Summer B starts (in late June).”

As he has been throughout his spring speaking tour, McElwain was upbeat, especially about being in Jacksonville, where UF plays Georgia on the last Saturday in October every year.

“It’s great to be here in Jacksonville, which means so much to the Gators, to our football program,” he said. “We treat (the UF-Georgia game) as a home game every year.

“That’s a great game and one that should be here. Hopefully, it stays here forever. Looking forward to that again.”

McElwain singled out several UF players from Jacksonville, including redshirt freshman wide receiver Rick Wells, who missed the spring due to a leg injury. Before that, he was really coming on, McElwain said.

“He is getting healthy,” he said. “He’s one of those guys that is going to play for the Gators. He had an injured hamstring (last fall) and never became full bore until the end of the year. We redshirted him, but he was certainly ready to play. He was the MVP of one of our final scrimmages of bowl week. He’s a guy that had a great offseason. He had a freak (injury) happen.

“As disappointed as he was, I’m really excited about the way he’s attacked his rehab and is not feeling sorry for himself. That’s a credit to his family, which is very supportive.”

In one other interesting note, the day after he said five of his assistants were approached about head coaching jobs after last season, McElwain revealed who they were Tuesday night.

“Geoff (Collins), Nuss (offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier), Randy Shannon, (Tim) Skipper and coach (Greg) Nord, actually,” McElwain said.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.




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