Struck me as odd in February when new Florida coach Jim McElwain didn’t sign a quarterback. The Gators ranked 104th out of 125 Div. I teams last season in passing offense. What were they running under Will Muschamp, the wishbone?
Was McElwain thinking that Treon Harris (one game with 200-plus passing yards) or Will Grier (redshirt in 2014) could be built into something more dangerous? Possibly, but depth is essential at this most crucial of positions, and the patient preparation of young talent, too.
There’s also the possibility that McElwain didn’t want to sign somebody just to sign somebody. Nothing all that efficient about giving a scholarship to a guy you pray will never have to play.
Or, even better, did Big Mac have his eyes on a potential transfer quarterback or two? With his reputation for productive offensive strategies and a resume that includes developing A.J. McCarron into a two-time national championship quarterback at Alabama, McElwain and the Gators might well have seemed an attractive option for some highly-ranked passer who wasn’t playing as much as he wanted somewhere else.
Didn’t McElwain take a quarterback with no Power-Five offers (Garrett Grayson) and push him to success at Colorado State and a spot in the NFL as a third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints? This coach definitely knows what he is doing.
The problem is that the Gators have dropped too far off the map in the SEC for McElwain or anyone else to instantly transform them into a magnet. You know, like Oregon is.
The Ducks were in the inaugural College Football Playoff, led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, and now they’ve added Vernon Adams, a graduate transfer who threw 110 touchdown passes in his career at Eastern Washington.
McElwain knows that part of the country. He knows that Adams is eligible to play right away. Matter of fact, he played quarterback at Eastern Washington himself. Yet the star quarterback at McElwain’s alma mater gave consideration to offers from Oregon, Texas and UCLA. Not Florida.
Then there was Everett Golson, the Notre Dame grad looking for a new place to play. McElwain had him in his office on the Gainesville campus for a courtesy call but Jimbo Fisher is the one who got Golson into his school and into his program. If Golson doesn’t wind up starting for Florida State this year, it will come as a surprise.
Now Ricky Town has been granted a release from USC and is looking to transfer. He will need to sit
out a year per NCAA rules wherever he goes next and, as our Anthony Chiang reports, Town may look to Florida as an option. That’s because Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has a previous relationship with the player, having recruited him during an earlier stop at Alabama.
That would be good for the Gators if Town looks their way. He’s a freshman and was one of the nation’s top pro-style prospects coming out of high school.
Still, it’s mid-August, less than three weeks from McElwain’s debut as Florida coach. Too late for the cavalry to come charging in now, at least when it comes to the 2015 season.
McElwain will press ahead with the passers he’s got, still undecided between Harris and Grier, still counting on Gator fans to work with him while he works with a team that has questions and depth problems at far more positions than quarterback alone.
It may not be pretty for a while, but remember that Nick Saban, McElwain’s old boss, faced a similar challenge at Alabama. Saban’s first team in Tuscaloosa went 7-6 with a home loss to Louisiana-Monroe and a 4-4 record in conference.
The good ones tough it out and they do it their way, relying on previous results as a guide. Put McElwain, who went from 4-8 to 10-2 in three seasons at Colorado State, in that category.
UPDATE: Ricky Town told ESPN on Friday morning that he will transfer to Arkansas.